7 Ways to Deal With a Smelly Pet

We love our four-legged pals but sometimes they may not smell all that “fresh.” What’s a pet parent to do? The solution is in finding the cause of that “furry funk.”

In this post, we will explore seven common stinky pet problems and some solutions that can help solve the issue.

1. Halitosis (aka Doggy Breath)

If your pet suffers from bad breath, you are not alone in this halitosis dilemma. Although dogs seem to be the major offenders, cats can also tip you back when they yawn in your face. The cause of bad breath in pets is usually poor oral hygiene - a trip to the vet can confirm this. You may have to have your pet’s teeth professionally cleaned, followed up by daily brushing can greatly decrease your pet’s halitosis.

Some animal’s bad breath can be caused by their stomach gasses. If this is the case, an adjustment in their diet may take care of the issue.


2. Gassy Pet

Some pets can clear a room with a single “toot.” There are a few conditions that can cause flatulence in animals; intestinal parasites, pancreatic malfunction, and inflammatory bowel disease. A visit to your veterinarian can determine if one of these is the culprit. However, most of the time excessive gas in pets is caused by a digestive intolerance. Pay attention to when your pet is gassy and note what it has eaten. Eliminating foods that upset your dog or cat’s tummy may just take care of the noxious fumes emanating from him.

3. Skin Issue Odors

Some bacterial and yeast infections of the skin can produce a strong odor on your pet. These may also be accompanied by greasy fur and/or flakey skin. Your vet may recommend treatments involving oral antibiotics, medicated shampoos, or antifungal treatments depending on the disorder.

4. Stop-n-Drop Rollers

If your dog loves to stop, drop, and roll in all things foul, then you are well aware of what is causing that fur-funk. This habit is not usually one that is easily broken, so you will have to be vigilant when it comes to outdoor time in the backyard or when out walking and hiking. If your pet happens to find something disgusting to roll in, then a bath in a mixture of 1-quart hydrogen peroxide, ⅓ cup of baking soda, and a small squirt of liquid dishwashing detergent (such as Dawn) should do the trick.

5. Anal Gland Issues

Perhaps the foulest of all pet-stink is from anal gland leakage. These two small sacs (found on either side of your pet’s anus) will sometimes leak when full. The solution is to have these glands manually expressed by either a veterinarian or a groomer. You can also use some hydrogen peroxide to gently wipe your pet’s butt once the odor becomes apparent.

6. Wet Dog Smell

Some water-loving dog breeds are impossible to keep out of the pools, lakes, rivers, and even puddles. Unfortunately, this also leads to that never-ending doggy smell. One of the best ways to decrease this is to Furminate your dog to reduce some of the undercoat (which traps moisture). And, of course, you may also want to decrease the amount of time (and access) your dog has to those outdoor “water holes.”


7. Stinky Ears

If your pet has stinky ears, it is most likely an allergy to something resulting in an external ear infection. Your vet can diagnose this issue and may choose to treat it with antibiotics and antifungal medications. However, finding the underlying cause will need to be investigated and dealt with accordingly. You can also use a mild disinfectant (made for this purpose) in the ears as a regular part of your dog’s grooming which should also help reduce the odor.


Dealing with a smelly pet isn’t fun but it’s necessary, especially if your dog or cat is suffering from an underlying health issue. Whether it be bad breath, gas, skin issues, anal glands or something as simple as rolling in debris or spending too much time in the water, getting our furry pals back to being rosy fresh and full of life should be our priority.

Further reading and references:

  1. UC Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County. Try growing fragrant plants to mask dog odors in the yard
  2. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Bad Breath: Sign of Illness?
  3. American Kennel Club. Why Your Dog Smells Like Fish


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