One of the most frequent complaints about owning a dog can be odor.  Dog breath, flatulence or body odor can have us avoiding our best friend, not to mention avoiding having our friends over.

Dog Odor Causes & Natural Treatments

Before you’re entirely friendless, there are some natural remedies and holistic practices that can help with dog odor.  The first order of the day, however, is to identify the issue.  Odor can indicate serious illness so a visit to the vet is necessary.  Armed with a diagnoses, you may find the following natural treatments and holistic preventatives helpful.

Bad Dog Breath

Dental disease in dogs can produce odor in two ways, one from the disease or decay itself, and the other from infections around the mouth caused by the increase in drooling.

Natural treatment of bad dog breath is similar to treating it in humans.  Keep the teeth clean using the method you prefer, from safe bones to commercial products. You could also make your own holistic dog toothpaste.

A suitable, balanced diet and healthy digestive system should take care of the rest (more on that below).  We have a wonderful homemade dog treat recipe that specifically addresses bad breath due to digestive issues in dogs.

Chronic Flatulence in Dogs

Overeating and a diet too high in rich foods or cereal grains can cause chronic flatulence in dogs.  It may also be a sign of a more serious digestive issue.

Natural treatments for dog gas & flatulence:

  • Reduce food intake, especially foods high in sugar, carbohydrates & saturated fat.
  • Research and change the diet.  This should be done slowly, 10-25% daily until the diet has been completely changed to the new plan/food.
  • Exercise
  • Yogurt with Acidophilus – 1 TBSP daily.
  • Chlorophyll:  Sprinkle a very small amount of chlorophyll supplement from seaweed/algae on wet food daily, and/or feed some green vegetables high in chlorophyll daily.
  • A drop or two daily of heavily-diluted, high quality essential oil blend, such as 1/2 an ounce of base oil and three drops of the following:  caraway, cardamom, tangerine and cinnamon leaf essential oils.
  • Add a dash of Calcium Montmorillonite Clay to wet food.

Note:  Anal gland issues can also cause dog odor, which should be addressed by a medical professional.

Natural remedy for dog ear odorFoul Dog Ear Odor

Allergies, bacterial, fungal and yeast infections can make your dog’s ears smell like sweat socks or a sewer.

Natural Treatment for dog ear odors:

Weekly cleaning of the dog’s ears can prevent infections.  This can be as simple as a 1/1 blend of organic apple cider vinegar and sterile water.  High quality essential oils may also be blended into a cleansing solution, with the most commonly used being heavily-diluted lavender, aloe vera, citrus bergamia, grapefruit seed extract, bergamot, niaouli, and chamomile.  Remember to use very small, diluted amounts of essential oils and keep them away from cats and other pets.

If your dog has an ear infection, you may find our article Ear Infections in Dogs and Cats – Natural Treatment and Prevention to be helpful.

Body/Skin Odor in Dogs

There are several causes and natural  treatments for dog body/skin odor.

  • Odor can be caused by something as simple as insufficient dog grooming.  Dogs with long or thick coats, or ‘wrinkled’ skin, require diligent grooming to remain clean and odor-free.
  • Skin diseases & infections can cause nasty odors in dogs.  They may start out as an allergy which irritates the fur apocrine glands, making them smell like a box of musty old clothes.  These allergies can then lead to yeast or bacterial secondary infections.  To further complicate matters, yeast can be the primary infliction which invites allergies and/or bacterial infections.
  • ‘Wrinkle’ breeds (or overweight dogs) and those that slobber a lot are often plagued with skin yeast and bacterial infections as well.  There are even some breeds who are predisposed to yeast and other skin infections, including the Australian Terrier, Basset Hound, Bulldog, Bullmastiff, Chihuahua, Chinese Shar-Pei, Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund, French Bulldog, Lhasa Apso, Maltese, Neapolitan Mastiffs, Poodle, Pug, Shetland Sheepdog, and Silky terrier.

natural remedy - dog odorDiagnosis

Finding the cause of your dog’s particular issue can be difficult, but it should be the goal – fix that and you’ll fix everything else.  It’s also important to identify the strain(s) of bacteria, yeast or fungus that you are dealing with so you know which natural treatments will be most effective. This is another reason why a medical professional needs to work with you.  Throwing a bunch of natural treatments at an unknown organism can cause more harm than good for your dog, not to mention the risk of creating ‘super bugs’.

Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can come up with a routine maintenance schedule to treat and prevent the issue.

This may include:

  • Bath – 1/1 organic apple cider vinegar wash, or more elaborate shampoo blends with high quality, heavily-diluted essential oils, such as geranium, rosewood, lavender, carrot seed, chamomile, helichrysum, ravensare or labdunum.
  • Dietary changes
  • Supplements such as Essential Fatty Acids, Quercetin and Zinc.
  • Prebiotics and probiotics

Antibiotics are the common remedy for any sort of bacterial infection, from dog skin to ears.  The problem with antibiotic use in dogs is they often have secondary yeast or fungal infections.  Treating the bacterial infection with antibiotics can allow a yeast infection to flourish by killing off the beneficial bacteria that usually controls it.  It is important to supplement antibiotics with probiotics, prebiotics, and anti-fungal foods/herbs.  This should be done in cooperation with a medical professional to avoid drug interactions or other complications, but it is rarely initiated by veterinarians (or in human medical treatment, for that matter).

The increase in these maladies is often attributed to diet and low quality pet food, due to allergies and a compromised immune system.  Our environment has been contaminated by all sorts of toxins that may contribute to the increase of allergies in dogs, but they are so common now that one can only assume that there must be a more mainstream cause.  Manufactured pet diets are a common denominator that can’t be ignored.  Pet foods and overall diet are improving thanks to educated pet parents, however, and time will tell if diet was indeed a common culprit.

??? Have you successfully tackled dog odor?  I’m sure everyone would appreciate it if you share your methods in the comments below.

Messonnier, Shawn D.V.M. The Natural Health Bible for Dogs and Cats .
Bell, Kristen Leigh.  Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals. Findhorn Press. 2002.
Thomas, Randall C. Canine Atopic Dermatitus: Clinical Disease, Diagnosis and Treatment.
Olivry, T. Mueller, R. S. Evidence-based veterinary dermatology: a systematic review of the pharmacotherapy of canine atopic dermatitis. 2003.
Robinson, Narda G. Nonpharmacologic Approaches to Canine Atopy. 2007.
J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. Efficacy of Boric-Complexed Zinc and Acetic-Complexed Zinc Otic Preparations for Canine Yeast Otitis Externa. 2005.
Weese, J. Scott.  Probiotics in Veterinary Medicine.
Giffard, C. J. Collings, S. B. Stoodley, R. M. Ability of an anti-flatulence treat to reduce the hydrogen sulfide content of canine flatulence. 2000.
Jones, B. R. Jones, K. S. Turner, K. et al. Flatulence in Pet Dogs. 1998.
Pasupathy, K. Sahoo, A. Effect of lactobacillus supplementation on growth and nutrient utilization in mongrel pups. 2001.

✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Holistic Dog Toothpaste Recipe For Healthy Teeth and Gums
Dog Treat Recipe: Pumpkin Treats for Dog Bad Breath
Dog Treat Recipe: Bad Breath Muffins


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51 thoughts on “EEEWWW What’s That Smell? Dog Odor Causes and Natural Treatments

  1. I have hope to breathe freely again thanks to you ROFL. Thanks for the link to Frugally Sustainable too, it’s a great site.

  2. My dog smells bad in almost every way listed here lol. We’ll be trying your suggestions from start to finish.

  3. Our dog smells really bad so I’m going to take him to the vet and maybe try some of your procedures.

  4. We’ve been using apple cider vinegar in the bath and for our dog’s ears and wow, what a difference! Her odor is cleared up and her ears look much more healthy.

  5. You’ve cut down my potpourri bill considerably…that’s for sure. I quite honestly thought all dogs had a bad odor and it comes with the territory. I wish I found out sooner but I’m grateful to find out now anyway.

    • @ Seafoam: ROFL Well there’s something I’ve never been called before!

      I’m so glad that this post has been helpful to smelly dogs and I appreciate everyone stopping in to say “Hello”.

    • We have bathed and brushed like crazy people without any change in our dog’s odour. Thanks for giving us a few more things to try.

  6. Dietary allergies are a common cause of smelly dog odor alright!!! It makes me angry that pet food can cause so many problems and nobody does anything about it!!!1

  7. We didn’t have her on very good dog food when she had a strong odor. My son checked the internet and found some good dog food for us to try and that helped a lot. We feed her Halo most of the time these days.

  8. My dog’s bad odour was caused by yeast due to allergies, but he was fine once we figured it out and treated him.

  9. These methods work like a charm! My dog had this nauseating musty smell and his bad breath made it worse. We took him to the vet after reading this post and changed his diet. The odor is almost gone and I like his company again :-).

  10. It’s really funny how many of us dog people spend our weekends searching for stuff about dog odor LMAO!

  11. My dog’s breath has reeked lately and after reading this I think it might be his teeth. I hpe we fix it soon.

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