How to Make Your Dog Smell Good Without Shampoo

Dogs may be our best friends, but that doesn't keep them from smelling bad from time to time. If you want your dog to smell good but you don't want to give him a bath with shampoo, there are other options. You probably already have the things you need for the job in your kitchen or bathroom. Canine cologne may help, but be sure to spray it on his back by his shoulder blades, where he can't lick it off.

chihuahua on the beach
Your dog may find smelly things to roll in.
credit: cynoclub/iStock/Getty Images

Seriously Bad Smells

Skunk smell is one of the worst. According to the University of Nebraska Extension, a mixture of ¼ cup baking soda, 1 quart 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and a teaspoon of dish detergent to break up the oily skunk spray will make your dog smell better. Don't try to store the mixture because it will expand and might rupture the container. Be sure not to allow the mixture to get in your dog's eyes or mouth or yours. Make enough to saturate him and then work it well into his coat. Leave it on him for about 5 minutes and rinse well.

Smelling Good without Water

If you want to make your dog smell good without getting him wet, reach for the baking soda. There is no set amount to use; how much you put on your dog will depend on his size and how long his fur is. Just use enough to work it well into his fur, getting it all the way down to the skin. Follow with a good brushing to remove the excess baking soda. This "dry bath" will leave your pet smelling fresh and clean with no water required. If you prefer, purchase a good commercial dry shampoo for dogs. Spray it on him and brush it out. Easy to use wipes also will help keep your dog smelling good between regular baths and are especially easy to use on short-haired dogs.

A Quick Rinse Recipe

A simple but effective solution for making your dog smell good is to rinse him with vinegar. This strong-smelling product might seem like it would leave your pet smelling worse, but once it dries the odor is gone, along with any other unpleasant smells on your dog. Combine 2 cups of distilled white vinegar with 4 gallons of water. Make more or less depending on your dog's size and coat length. Wet him to the skin with plain water and saturate his coat with the mixture. Dry your pet without rinsing off the vinegar and he'll be left smelling great.

Important Considerations

Sometimes dogs may get into things that can cause them to stink. This is pretty normal and is not usually cause for concern. Things may be different if your dog begins to smell bad for no obvious reason, especially if he seems itchy, if his coat looks thin, if his skin feels rough or scabby or if he shows other signs of skin trouble. Any of these can signal a more serious problem that requires prompt veterinary attention and possibly medication. He also may need a change in diet, such as a diet that uses only natural preservatives, or he could require additional fatty acids or other nutritional supplements.