How to Help a Smelly Dog

Does your dog smell wet even when he’s not? Is the odor getting worse? Does the odor return even after bathing? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” read on for the causes and solutions by Amy Shojai in New Choices in Natural Healing for Dogs and Cats (Rodale, 1999) to help keep your dog from smelling like stinky old socks.

The Cause
Dogs love to roll in manure, dead fish (nice!) and other stinky things. For some reason, they relish this canine perfume–a lot more than their owners do. A quick bath is the easiest way to eliminate eau de dog when the smell’s cause is external. But things get more complicated when the body odor is coming from within.
“The skin is a reflection of the internal organs,” says Joanne Stefanatos, D.V.M., a holistic veterinarian. If you treat the whole body and make it healthy, your pet’s skin will improve naturally. Dogs are usually smellier than cats, but any pet may occasionally become a little pungent.

Some owners resort to spritzing their pets with cologne or scented powders, but this only masks the odors. The only way to get rid of body odor, according to holistic veterinarians, is to discover and eliminate the underlying cause. It is usually not difficult to do, adds Stefanatos. Try the following tips provided by veterinarians.

Change the Diet
One of the best ways to get rid of body odor is to switch your pet to a natural diet. Try a high-quality all natural brand which are available in some pet supply stores and through mail order. Or you can switch to a homemade diet.

Clean Them from the Inside Out
Giving your pets barley grass, wheat grass, or chlorophyll can remove toxins from the body that can lead to bad smells, Dr. Stefanatos says. “Each of these will cleanse the gastrointestinal system and help eliminate body odor,” she says. For pets under 10 pounds, she recommends giving one-eighth teaspoon of one of these remedies twice a day. Those weighing 10 to 24 pounds can have one-quarter teaspoon, pets 25-50 pounds can take one-half teaspoon and larger pets can take a full teaspoon–all doses given twice a day. The remedies are available in health food stores and can be mixed in your pet’s food.

Save the Skin
A type of yeast that normally lives on your pet’s skin will sometimes multiply, causing infections and sometimes leading to a bad smell. Washing your pet with a medicated shampoo, such as MalAcetic, will kill the yeast and help your pet smell sweet again. Ask your vet about shampoo and how often to use.

Try Some Supplements
Giving pets fatty-acid supplements along with their regular food can help eliminate smelly toxins in the body, says Dr. Stefanatos. She recommends a product called Omegaderm Oil, available from vets. The multiple veterinary mineral tablet Gerizyme also helps. Gerizyme is also only available through your vet.

Clean the Coat
Combing and brushing your pet regularly will help remove the thick undercoat, which tends to trap moisture along with bad smells. “Back-combing” your pet, going against the direction of the fur, every day, especially during shedding season, is recommended. Wetting the comb with wet water helps remove loose hair.

Schedule a Bath Day
Natural oils on your pet’s skin will sometimes collect in the fur, turn rancid, and give off bad smells. The odor will usually go away when you give your pet a good sudsing. Any natural pet shampoo will work fine; check with your vet to see how often you should bathe your pet.

To make baths even more effective, give your pet a final rinse with a solution containing two tablespoons on vinegar in a quart of water.

Call the Vet If …
Some dogs and cats are naturally smellier than others, and a quick bath or these tips will usually clear the air. But body odor is occasionally caused by serous problems, like infections, tooth decay, or even kidney disease. If the odor persists, it could point to a bigger problem and you should see your vet.

By Melissa Breyer, Senior Editor, Care2


Kamia T.
Kamia T2 years ago

Every rescue dog I've adopted has stunk, because they were being fed the wrong type of food and/or being dosed to death with all sorts of stuff. Once that ends, and I begin giving them the food I use, which has NO wheat or corn, their eyes clear up and they quit stinking. For older dog, or ones with skin problems, I also add one capsule of Vitamin E oil. Dogs shouldn't need to be bathed 24-7 unless they found a skunk or deer scat, etc.

Anteater Ants
Anteater Ants2 years ago


Fi T.
Past Member 4 years ago

Digging into the cause is the most efficient

Winn Adams
Winn Adams4 years ago


Valentina R.
Valentina R4 years ago

Informative article, thanks.

Maria Cantillo
Maria Cantillo4 years ago

lol.. its funny but true.. they love to roll in stinky things especially after bath!! its so annoying but cute at the same time.. you just gotta love them! :) and help them!!

Marie W.
Marie W4 years ago

Parsley in food is also mentioned elsewhere.

Victoria P.
Victoria P4 years ago

I acquired a Jack Russel last year that had a really stinky odor to him poor thing. No one wanted to pet him because the smell just lingered on the hands for so long. I read somewhere that coconut oil would help and I started mixing just a teaspoon in his morning food every day. Et voila! within 3 days no more bad smell!

Kathleen Cazander

great tip about the vinegar and water. Thanks

Karen Martinez
Karen Martinez4 years ago

Going to have to try some of these. We now have 5 dogs, and one smells really bad. We bathe him, and he smells good for a day or two, but then begins to smell again. Thanks heavens the others don't stink! I think I'd be dog-less if they all did!