Causes of Dog Odor

Dog with bad odor that persists may be an indication that your dog has a health problem or is not getting enough nutrients from his food.

We all want our dogs to smell heavenly, don't we? Dog odor is one thing that many of us want to get rid of but don't know how. There is an array of doggie shampoos, air fresheners, and sprays on the market to help us make a stinky dog smell nice. However, if the odor is coming from the "inside" (i.e. from within the dog), it doesn't matter how much perfume and spray we put on our dogs! The odor will not go away.

However, we don't have to live with bad odor from our dogs. Identifying the cause of the odor and finding remedies to eliminate the cause is the best way to deal with this smelly problem.

Possible Causes of Dog Odor and
Essential Oils to the Rescue

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Possible Causes of Dog Odor

If your dog smells bad and the odor is coming from within your dog, it is an indication that she may be suffering from certain chronic disease or malnutrition. Care has to be taken to find out the underlying cause and, if you are unable to do so, a trip to your veterinarian is advisable.

Here are just a few possible problems that cause dog odor:

Bad Breath (Dog Halitosis)

Chihuahua Very often, a dog smells bad because of his breath! Bad breath can be caused by indigestion, constipation, or dental problems such as gingivitis. A dog's breath does not have to be stinky. In fact, healthy dogs usually have fresh breath. The best way to prevent bad breath is to feed your dog a natural diet and of course brush her teeth daily. Visit our page on brushing dog teeth to learn how to clean and brush your dog's teeth.

Also go to our page on bad breath in dogs for information on different causes of dog bad breath and the use of natural remedies to freshen up the doggie breath.

Ear Infections

If the bad odor comes from the head of your dog, lift up her ear flaps and check her ears. Ears infected by bacteria can cause discharge with offensive odor. It is therefore essential to regularly check your dog's ears for mites, dirt, debris, and possible infection.

Regular ear cleaning is also important to keep those ears clean and fresh. Don't know how to clean your dog's ears? Visit this page. Also visit our page on dog ear infections for more information on this topic.


Sometimes the bad odor comes from the rear end of our pet! Yes - I am talking about "gas". Dog flatulence can be so smelly that it can knock you out. There are hosts of reasons as to why our dogs have gas - from eating too fast to constipation to allergies. A poor diet can also cause dog flatulence. Chronic flatulence can be a sign of parasites so if your dog has odorous gas constantly, it is advisable to take her to the vet for a check-up. Visit this page for more information on this dog odor problem.

Anal Gland Problems

Anal gland problems, such as impacted anal glands or anal gland abscess, are rather common in dogs. When your dog has one of these problems, you will definitely notice a distinct, powerful odor coming from his rear end. Another indication of anal gland problem is that you will notice your dog scooting on the floor from time to time. If your dog's anal glands are impacted, you need to have the glands expressed - either by yourself or by a groomer or a vet. For more information on this not-so-aromatic topic, please visit our page on dog anal glands.

Improper Diet

Low-quality foods (e.g. low-quality dry kibbles) usually are high in carbohydrates (starches) and low in high-quality protein and "good fat", i.e. essential fatty acids. This very often results in bad breath and skin problems in dogs who are fed such foods. If you have not already done so, feed your dog a high-quality natural diet, and supplement it with EFAs (e.g. flaxseed oil, fish oil). Usually you will notice a dramatic change in your dog's skin condition and the bad smell will disappear as well.

Other Medical Problems

Other medical problems that can cause a dog to be smelly include yeast infections, diabetes, kidney failure, and cancers.

External Causes of Dog Odor

Of course, there is always the possibility that the odor comes from the "outside". For example, your dog might have been sprayed by a skunk, or she might have rolled in something smelly.

If your dog has been skunked, you need to act quickly before so that the skunk spray (which is actually an oil) can be neutralized before it gets soaked into your dog's coat. Visit our page on How to Remove Skunk Smell from Dogs for more information.


To recap:

When it comes to dog odor, don't just think that it is normal and that all dogs have some sort of "doggie smell". Healthy dogs do not smell bad. If you notice a strange or unusual odor coming especially from the inside of your dog, take her to a vet for a check-up.

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Essential Oils For Dog Shampoo

Dog in Tub If you have a dog who likes rolling in smelly stuff, regular showers are called for to help remove the stink. You may also consider adding some essential oils to the shampoo to help your dog smell good. For example:

Aroma Shampoo

To 8 oz of all natural shampoo, add:

  • 2 drops of Roman Chamomile essential oil
  • 2 drops of Geranium essential oil
  • 7-8 drops of Lavender essential oil

These oils have soothing and calming effects and are good for relieving itching from skin allergies. (If you are interested in using essential oils with your dog, here is a useful eBook for you!)

Corgi Puppy

Natural Products to Eliminate "Doggie Smell"

  • Earthbath All Natural Shampoos: The ingredients in these shampoos are natural, and 100% biodegradable. The Mango Tango Shampoo is mild and leaves your dog smelling sweet and exotic! If your dog has skin irritation, the Tea Tree Oil & Aloe Vera Shampoo can speed up healing and relieve itching.
  • Earthbath Between Bath Spritzes: These spritzes contain ingredients that are good for the skin - colloidal oatmeal, aloe vera and vitamin E, plus essential oils of either lavender, or vanilla and sweet almond. They are perfect to use to naturally eliminate dog odors between baths.

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Herbs for Dog Odor

Herbs can be given to dogs to cleanse and detoxify the body from the inside out. By eliminating toxins within the body, the dog's natural fragrance will improve. Here is a simple way to try:

Herbal Deodorizing Powder

Combine the above dried herbs and if they are not completely powdered, grind them in a coffee grinder. Add the herbal powder to your dog's food. Start off by adding a pinch and gradually increasing to 1/2 teaspooon per 10 pounds of body weight per day. Give this to your dog on a "five-day on, two-day off" schedule for up to a month.

Green foods such as spirulina are rich in chlorophyll, which binds with toxins and removes them from the body. Dandelion is a diuretic and supports the liver and urinary tract. Together they work to deodorize the body by cleansing the inside of the body.

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