Why Does My Dog Always Smell Bad?

The good news is you have the most adorable pooch in the neighborhood. The bad news is he's the smelliest. Of course, dogs naturally have a distinctive odor (so you'd best get to love it!), but--for a variety of reasons--some dogs are just smellier than others. If you've a real stinker on your hands, there are ways to help your furry fellow smell as sweet as his disposition.

Does Fido Love "Playing Dirty"?

Let's start with the obvious: Fido may just need a bath. Doggies naturally spend time rolling around in foul-smelling nasty stuff while frolicking outdoors including garbage and, we hate to say it, feces. It just so happens that some dogs tend to like these activities more than others. Wash Fido weekly with a mild dog shampoo, unless he's been diagnosed with a skin condition and a vet recommends a stronger medicated shampoo. Once the odor gets under control, bathe him once or twice per month. Bathing the pooch too often will remove vital skin oil and can lead to scratching, dry skin and a possible accumulation of yeast and bacteria, which could create more nasty smells. Massage baking soda into your dog's fur after his bath to help keep odors at bay.

Dental Hygiene

Bad breath in your furry best friend can be a real deterrent from accepting his loving kisses. Halitosis is the result of accumulating bacteria in Fido's gut, lungs or mouth. The best way to keep his breath smelling fresh is to thoroughly brush his canines every day. Only use a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for dogs -- human toothpastes can be harmful to him. Doggy toothpastes are designed to whet Fido's appetite with enticing flavors, such as poultry and beef, which will make it easier for you to keep the toothbrush in his mouth. Also give him hard chew toys to gnaw on that will naturally help clean his teeth.

Clean Bedding

Your pup requires a pristine sleep area, just like humans do. The longer you delay washing Fido's bedding, the worse the unpleasant stench in that space will become, which will rub off on him. To help keep him smelling clean, wash his bedding regularly, at least every other week. Place all cloth bedding, linens, crate and pillow covers in the washing machine with a mild detergent. Don't add chemical fabric softeners that could irritate his skin and cause more odors. Rinse your pooch's crate or bed with a gentle soap and hose.

Medical Considerations

A persistent, off-putting foul odor may be an indication of a more serious health condition, such as liver disease, dental or gum disease, skin or yeast conditions, or infections in the anal sacs, ears, bladder or urinary tract. Bad breath can be a symptom of respiratory system disorders, gastrointestinal tract or mouth and gum disease, according to WebMD. If your pooch's breath smells fruity or sweet, he should be checked for diabetes, especially if he's been urinating and drinking liquids more often. Take him to a vet for a thorough medical exam to rule-out an underlying illness.

By Liza Blau

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References:
ASPCA: Grooming FAQ
WebMD: Bad Breath in Dogs
Dog Health Guide: Dog Odor Skin

Dogster: How to Give a Dog a Bath
DrBarchas.com: Bad Smelling Cat or Dog
American Kennel Club: Grooming

About the Author
Liza Blau received a B.A. in English from Columbia University. Her writing has appeared in fiction anthologies from Penguin Press, W.W. Norton, NYU Press and others. After healing her own life-threatening asthma by switching to a whole, natural foods diet, she founded the NYC Asthma Wellness Center. Blau counsels individuals on healing their own asthma and allergies with dietary and lifestyle changes.