Causes of Dog Odor

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Dog Odor Causes


We all want our dogs to smell heavenly, and many dog parents want to know how to make their dogs not stink!

There is an array of doggie shampoos, air fresheners, and sprays on the market to help us make a stinky dog smell better.

But the problem is, 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

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)

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.


Dog Odor Causes Sometimes the bad odor comes from the rear end of our pet! Yes - I am talking about "gas".

Some dogs may produce "gas" that 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 fishy 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. fish oil such as salmon 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 cannot identify the cause that may make your dog smell bad, take her to a vet for a check-up.

Causes of Dog Odor

How To Make A Dog Not Stink

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"

The ingredients in these shampoo and spray are soothing, non-toxic, specially formulated with rosemary and zinc, a proven odor neutralizer that works on everything from normal dog smell to nose-pinching bad odor. They also feature human quality, plant based ingredients - pH balanced for dogs.

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 body odor will improve. Here is a simple way to try:

Herbal Deodorizing Powder

  • 3 parts of spirulina (or other green food such as chlorella, barley grass, etc.)
  • 2 parts dried dandelion leaves
  • 1 part dried marshmallow root

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.

C.J. Puotinen, Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats (Keats Publishing, 1999).
M.L. Wulff-Tilford and G.L. Tilford, Herbs for Pets (Bowtie Press, 1999).
R.H. Pitcairn, The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats (Rodale, 2005).

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