How to Make Your Dog Smell Good Without a Bath

Have you noticed your dog smelling weird (or weirder than usual)? Giving it a bath might seem like the obvious solution, but the truth is that there are several reasons why dogs smell and baths won’t fix all of them.

Plus, vets say that unlike us, dogs can’t hop in the shower every day as it damages their skin and coat.

So what can you do? How to make your dog smell good without a bath?

Check out the 8 solutions discussed below. 

Why Does My Dog Smell so Bad? 

There could be many reasons why your dog smells. He could have rolled over in something gross, suffer from an infection or gas, or even absorb some of the smell of his bed or crate. Before you start addressing the smell, you need to figure out the exact reason why your dog stinks—this will make it easier to deal with the problem. 

Here are the most common reasons why a canine might smell:

  • Wet coat
  • Dog plaque
  • Low-quality food
  • Health issues, such as ear and yeast infections, kidney issues, diabetes, or an anal gland infection.

It should be noted that dogs release a smell that is distinctly theirs, helping other canines recognize them, sort of like a name tag. This smell is in the oil on their fur so it can easily accumulate and become quite intense. However, it’s debatable if the musky scent is unbearable. For many pet parents (there are about 63.4 million households in the US who have a dog) it is merely considered part of owning a dog rather than a problem. 

Give Your Dog a Bath

How to Make a Dog Smell Better Naturally?

If a bath is not an option, try one of the 8 tips outlined below. 

1. Regularly brush your dog’s fur 

Brushing your dog’s fur on a regular basis has a lot of benefits. 

First off, it can help keep your dog smelling and looking clean without a bath. When brushing your dog’s coat you effectively get rid of any build-up dirt, mud, or dead hair that might be contributing to your pup’s bad smell. 

This technique also ensures that the natural oils in their skin are distributed throughout the coat, greatly improving the look, feel, and smell of their fur.  

What’s more, regular brushing helps untangle matted hair, which left unattended can get mixed up with dirt, urine, and debris and start giving off an unpleasant odor. 

Finally, brushing will not only help your dog smell better and ensure there’s less fur all over your stuff, but it’s also a great way to bond with your dog.

How often should you brush your dog?

Depends on the type of dog you have. Long and medium-hair dogs, such as German Shepherds and Maltese, need to be brushed a few times a day. Short-coated dogs, on the other hand, can be brushed once or twice a week.

In addition to maintaining their coat when dry, you should give your dog a good brush when their fur is wet—dirty or soggy fur can lead to a yeast infection and an even worse smell. 

Related: When can you give a puppy its first bath?

2. Keep your dog’s bed clean & fresh

Just like you like to rest your head on a clean set of sheets, your dog appreciates a nice clean space to sleep.

Apart from that, It is not uncommon for hair, dirt, pet dander, and skin oils to build up on your doggo’s bed causing the bed itself to smell. The unpleasant odor can then rub off on your pet even if you groom and bathe it regularly. 

Lucky for pet parents, most dog beds on the market are machine-washable, allowing you to easily keep them smelling fresh. To get rid of particularly bad smells, give the bed a thorough cleaning with the vacuum cleaner, use a laundry additive (you can find ones specially designed to eliminate pet odors), and dry the bed outside—the sun and fresh air will ensure all bacteria and build-up dirt is really gone.

On the same note, it’s important to keep your dog’s crate clean even if your pet doesn’t sleep there. By regularly washing and sanitizing your dog’s bed and crate you will prevent skin infections and nasty odors. 

3. Look after your dog’s teeth 

A canine’s dental hygiene should be every dog owner’s priority, both for the smell and your pet’s health. 

If you don’t brush your dog’s teeth regularly, you are making it vulnerable to plaque and tartar build-up, which in turn causes bad breath. This can lead to more significant issues in the long run as dogs are known to suffer from gum disease or tooth decay, just like humans. As a matter of fact, it is estimated that more than 80% of dogs over the age of three have a dental disease

Try to give your pup’s teeth the once over at least once a day using a dog-friendly toothpaste. Owners who can’t brush their dog’s teeth daily should try other alternatives, such as dental wipes or water additives. Introducing dental chews into their diet is another effective way to get rid of plaque. 

4. Clean your dog’s ears 

There are several types of bacteria that can live in your dog’s ears. Usually, a canine who is healthy and whose ears are cleaned regularly will fight off the bacteria. However, if you’ve been falling behind on your dog’s grooming routine (or your pet has allergies or hormonal disbalance), the bacteria and yeast can quickly turn into an infection causing a particularly bad smell and obvious discomfort for your dog.

This issue is even more pronounced among dogs with floppy or hairy ears, such as Spaniels and Basset Hounds, says the AKC

The best way to clean your dog’s ears is with a dog-safe ear cleaner (you can pick one up online or in your local pet store). Just squeeze a little of the cleaner in the dog’s ear canal and give the ear a light rub to loosen up any build-up dirt. After that, clean the ears with cotton balls or gauze (not Q-tips), making sure that you wipe any residue or build-up in the folds of the ear

5. Wash your dog’s paws after a walk 

If you take your dog out on a wet day, you need to wash its paws with lukewarm and soapy water when going back inside. This will remove any mud or dirt from building up in the paws and causing yeast infections—which can be both smelly and bad for your pup’s health. In addition, washing your pet’s paws after it’s been outside (in both dry and wet weather) will stop it from tracking dirt all over your home. 

It’s a good idea to keep a small bucket of warm water mixed in with dog shampoo near the door, allowing you to clean your dog’s paws before it comes into the house. Or you could place a small rug in front of the door and wipe your pet’s paws before going in. 

6. Give your dog a “dry” bath

There are a few effective ways to keep your dog smelling great without giving it a bath, or rather by giving it a waterless bath. Here is what you can try:

  • Home remedies—You can apply baking soda or cornstarch to your dog’s coat—it will help absorb excess oil or smells. After you’re done, just brush away the powder. 
  • Dry Shampoo—In addition to regular doggie shampoos, you can also find a waterless or dry shampoo for dogs. This product usually absorbs any oils on your dog’s fur. It also leaves your pooch smelling great, making this a great way to clean, detangle, moisturize and deodorize your dog’s coat.
  • Wipes—Many pet stores offer several brands of wet wipes specifically designed for canines. This is as effective as it is fast—simply wipe your pet’s coat and voila! You’ve given him a nice waterless bath. 

7. Use some doggy perfume

Deodorizing spray for canines is a great solution for owners who need to get rid of foul odors fast. Doggy perfume and cologne, though, can only mask your dog’s smell with another scent. The effect is not long-lasting either, making this a suitable solution if you’re having guests over or taking your doggo for a drive in your car. 

Before buying doggy perfume, make sure the product is suitable for your pet. You shouldn’t use human products on your four-legged friend, especially perfumes, since they have a higher concentration of ingredients, plus alcohol, which might irritate him.

8. Change your dog’s diet

A bad diet or low-quality food can also result in your dog smelling funky. It can also lead to a common canine issue known as canine flatulence, aka dog farts. In most cases, this problem can be solved by improving your dog’s diet as one of the most common reasons for dog farts is intolerance to a certain ingredient

The good news is that most of the top-rated dog canine brands out there have a wide selection of grain-free and healthy dry food for dogs, so you should not have any issues selecting a good diet for your pet. 

Expensive Professional Dog Grooming

How to Keep the Dog Smell out of Your Home?

You might have eliminated the bad smell from your dog, but your house still has a doggy-like odor lingering around. What can you use to keep your house clean and smelling fresh?

Here are a couple of ideas.

  • Get a pet odor eliminator—These are chemical cleaners that double as stain removers to ensure there is no dog smell on your carpets, floors, or cushions.  
  • Try an air purifier —These handy gadgets can remove pet smells from the room as well as help people with allergies to pet dander and hair. 
  • Clean dog hair — If your dog stinks, so will have the hair it has shed everywhere. Vacuuming all this loose hair will solve the issue of the smell, pet dander, and fur in your home. If you don’t have the time to vacuum the house every day, invest in a pet hair robot vacuum—an effortless way to ensure your house is hair-free.
  • Put baking soda on everything—Baking soda absorbs smells and oils, so if you can feel your dog on the couch, bed, carpet, or curtains, sprinkle some baking soda on it. For particularly bad odors, try a baking soda and vinegar mix. 

Bottom Line

A bath may be the easiest and most effective option when it comes to keeping your pooch smelling fresh and clean, but sadly you can’t give your pet a bath every other day. To keep him stink-free between baths, try one of the solutions described above. Your dog and your nose will appreciate it.

However, if the situation does not improve and you can still smell your dog before you can see it, talk to a veterinarian (whether it’s your regular doctor or an online veterinarian). A persistently bad smell can be a sign of an underlying medical issue, such as dental problems or skin infection, so make sure you address the problem as soon as possible.

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