So long, smelly dog - here's how to keep yours fresh

There’s no getting away from it – however much we love them, sometimes our dogs just smell bad. Luckily, turning our dogs from pongy to pristine is easy. It just takes a bit of know-how and patience.

How to keep dogs clean all year round

Whether it’s rain, mud or something stronger that our dogs love to roll in, chances are from time to time they’ll be a bit stinky. Muddy, wet coats can trap smells, while central heating or summer sun can dry them out. 

It’s a good idea to bathe your canine companion every month or so and there are products out there that will help protect their skin and coat. Odour control shampoos are available online and from vets and pet care shops. In winter, rub your dog dry and let them warm up in front of a radiator. In summer, they’ll probably want to head outside and dry off out there. 

Too busy for regular bathing? Try a dry shampoo to keep your four-legged friend delightfully fragrant. These are also great for dogs who aren’t water babies and who hate a scrub in the tub.

Tip-top toe tips

During winter, de-icers such as salt and sand can dry out a dog’s paws. In the summer, dry soil and sand can get stuck there. A regular wash between the toes and footpads, a trim of any long hairs and a nourishing moisturiser will keep your pampered pet protected from the elements, whatever the weather. Remember, during summer, dogs’ paws can be hurt by hot pavements and roads, so take them out early or late in the day when it’s cooler.

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Brush up on brushing

Regularly brushing a dog’s coat gets rid of dead skin and dirt trapped between the hairs and helps stimulate natural oil production that keeps their coat glossy and shiny. It also protects their skin – so a good grooming routine will help your dog not to trap nasty odours but to stay lovely and fresh. 


Beat bad breath

Just like with humans, when plaque and tartar build up on our dogs’ teeth, it can cause bad breath. Gum overgrowth is another common problem. It’s a good idea to clean your dog’s teeth every few days with dog toothpaste and a special toothbrush, but if this doesn’t keep your dog’s breath smelling fresh then book them into the vets for a professional clean.


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Sometimes, regular grooming isn’t enough to keep a dog smelling sweet. Here are some common causes of disgusting dog smells – along with tips for getting your much-loved family member back to their best.

Whiffy wind

Some dogs have more sensitive stomachs than others, and if one blast from your dog is enough to clear the room, yours could be one of them. There are specific diets available for dogs with digestive issues. Another potential cause is dogs scoffing their food too fast – if this sounds like your dog, try a slow feeding bowl or puzzle feeder. If you’re concerned, your dog gets diarrhoea or constipated or starts vomiting, take them to the vet in case there’s an underlying health issue. 

Ear infections

These can be common in dogs, especially if they are regularly exposed to bacteria in water from swimming. Keep the folds of floppy ears clean with a damp cloth or piece of cotton wool, but don’t touch anywhere that’s not immediately accessible in case you damage their ear canal. If you notice any discharge around the ear, your dog needs to see the vet. 

Skin allergies

Allergies in dogs can show up as itchy and inflamed skin. As your dog scratches it can cause further irritation, which leads to increased amounts of oils and water being produced to soothe the sore spot. This build-up of dead skin, bacteria and oil can create a rather potent pong. Ask your vet to pin down the underlying cause, so you can fix the problem permanently.


What’s that fishy smell?

If your dog smells of fish, it’s usually nothing to do with what they’re eating. It can often be a sign of anal sac (otherwise known as anal gland) disease or disorder – especially if a dog is also scooting their bum on the floor, licking their bum, has a change in their bowel habits or seems to be in pain down there. 

Dogs have anal sacs either side of their bum and these produce a pungent secretion specific to them when they poo, walk around or are stressed. (This is why dogs smell each other’s bums.) If the sacs don’t empty fully when the dog does their business, or the dog doesn’t poop as often as usual, the liquid in the glands can dry and create a painful blockage. 

Don’t express the dog’s anal sacs yourself and don’t get a groomer to do it without consulting a vet first – this can worsen the situation. Get in touch with your vet so they can determine the best course of action for your dog.

If it’s actually your dog’s breath or wee that is fishy, also speak to your vet. These issues can be down to dental, digestive or urinary problems, or more serious health concerns such as kidney problems. Your vet will get to the bottom of what’s going on.

So now we know why our dogs might pong and when the smell could be down to something more serious. As always, seeking the right help at the right time can make our pets’ lives much more pleasant. Or, if the smell is just down to them rolling in something you’d rather they didn’t, a bath should soon fix the problem.

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