Smelly Dog

Updated on September 28, 2010
T.A. asks from Toledo, OH
29 answers

We recently rescued a beagle and he SMELLS!!! I had absolutely no desire to get a dog because I don't want my house smelling like dog but lost the battle to my husband. A little history on the dog...he was abandoned in a garage and has some skin issues (it's kind of broken down but there is not any open areas) and is constantly itching. He doesn't have fleas or mange. I am not sure if it's his skin that smells so bad or his fur. The vet recommended an oatmeal shampoo because of his sensitive skin right now, and it didn't even touch the smell. We have tried a few other concoctions to no avail. I want to take him to a groomer but none of them seem confident that they can get the smell out and I don't want to waste my money. My vote would be to get rid of him but, since that is not an option, I need to get rid ofthe dog smell. What do you bathe your smelly dogs with?

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So What Happened?

I have had the dog to the vet twice. He is on medication and his coat is improving along with looking better. The smell is more like "dog smell" if that makes any sense. He was in a garage with 16 other dogs and I am unsure what the conditions were and how long he was there. I assume his smell is from that, that and being at the humane society. The vet has checked for mange and he doesn't have it. I bathed him again today and he is already smelling better. He fur looks so much better. I washed his bed and blankets and repeat every few days. Thanks.

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answers from Shreveport on

You mention a few things that are red flags to me. The smell,constant itching and sensitive skin. I would look at his food first. It is amazing the crude that is in dog food that dogs are sensitive to. This leads to all kinds of issues. I feed my dogs raw and it is amazing the difference it has made for them. They are rarely bathed even though they are indoor dogs,their teeth have never been brushed but are beautifully white,no bad breath,and the list goes on.
If you don't want to try raw then look to a more high quality dog food. It means a bit more money but odds are it will take care of the issues you are having.

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answers from Toledo on

I think that as his health improves, so will his smell, which means there's no quick fix. As for the itching, please try a cortisone spray. His skin can't heal until you stop the itching. You can get it at the doggie supply, and it really works well.

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answers from Washington DC on

every dog we've ever had has been a beagle mutt, and they all smell. i think hounds are just stinkbombs.
i suggest a cat.

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answers from San Francisco on

Unfortunately this may be because of the type of dog he is. It seems "hunting dogs" are more smelly. I have a lab and a beagle/cocker/lab mix. They both are smelly and I should give them bathes more. I do have two blankets I put over the area they sleep in that I wash weekly. These are under the dog beds they sleep on. I also have a goal of vacuuming every day (the areas the dogs are allowed in) that translates to 3-5 times a week. That is probably my number one battle housecleaning wise and have it down to a routine. (I'm not the best or most diligent about other chores).

Also, there is a type of mange that isn't contagious that dogs can have (Demodectic mange). It has a very distinctive smell, you might just double check with your vet that they screened for that. I've tried the vinegar in the water and it seems to really help. Do you know anyone who has experience with dogs, espeically Beagles? Maybe you can ask them for an honest opinion if your dog smells more than other dogs. I LOVE dogs but I don't blame you at all about your feelings about the smell!

One last thought....I do the dog related chores around the house because I wanted them. My daughter and husband do help but in your situation I think the burden should be more on the shoulders of those who wanted the dog. It would be unrealistic to say it could be 100% off your plate but to keep you from being resentful the rest of the family should step up.

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answers from Sacramento on

I heard on the radio of some type of supplement to give smelly dogs called something like Vita-mite? It is supposed to be great and improve a dogs coat and eliminate smelly coats. Go bk to the vet and ask for more help, or get another one, a good vet should be able to help. You might also consider if there is a good college of vet medicine in your state, call them and ask to talk to one of the vet med professors who specializes in animal dermatology and skin disorders in coats. We have U C Davis Vet Med Collegel very close by here and I have toured it. They have incredible veterinary expertise in all areas working at this university vet med center, I even saw they have doctors who specialize in animal blood transfusions. It is worth a shot. We are big dog lovers and will do anything to help our pets, please don't get rid of him. He needs help.

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answers from Jacksonville on

Since he doesn't have fleas or mange or any other OBVIOUS reason to be itchy/scratching so much, did your vet consider that he may have a thyroid issue? Thyroid can cause hair loss and eczema and other skin issues. (even in people). Also, I don't KNOW that it could, but it would seem to me that if he had a medical issue, it could affect how he smells.

Are his ears clean? Mites or gunk in the ears can reek, too. Be sure his ears are cleaned regularly as recommended by the vet (usually you can just wipe them with baby oil, but they also make specific ear cleansers that you can buy - they aren't expensive).

Just a thought...

p.s. btw, if it IS a thyroid issue, it is easily treatable and the medication is not expensive.
Beagles commonly have this condition.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I'm not sure what would helpif you have tried all those things, but Denise said Nature's Miracle. I haven't used any dog shampoo from that brand (I did see they have a skunk smell remover so it must work pretty well.) I do know that i buy the nature's miracle stain and odor remover and am a many many repeat customer. So I would second trying that brand.

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answers from Minneapolis on

A vet, perhaps a specialist, needs to figure out the cause of his skin problems and odor. Someone else mentioned thyroid, which can cause skin and hair problems, but the primary cause of itchy dogs and canine skin problems is allergies. I would have him examined by a veterinary dermatologist. It could be something as simple as changing his diet (many dogs are allergic to grains and even chicken) or something more complex, but either way he sounds miserable. I would start with a vet specialist before I took him to a groomer. If you do take him to a groomer, I would get a recommendation for a good one and be very wary of the types of products they use, many of which could just irritate his already inflamed and sensitive skin. My 15-year-old dog suffered from allergies so badly that she probably would have scratched herself to death without treatment so feel free to send me a private message if you have any questions. Constant scratching usually leads to secondary infections--either bacterial or yeast, but only a vet will know for sure by swabbing it. Good luck--I know this is probably more than you bargained for when you were talked into a dog! Sounds like both you and your dog could use some relief. Oh, the oatmeal bath is a good short term remedy and shouldn't irritate him, but probably won't provide lasting relief.

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answers from State College on

If he has skin issues that is probably where the smell is coming from. You may want to have him back into the vet if it is not improving to make sure he does have a bacterial or yeast infection on his skin or in his ears- both can be very smelly. If nothing else a call to the vet that he is still smelly and is there anything else you should try or do they need to see him again may help. A medicated shampoo may help as his skin heals some, but many of the medicated shampoos do wonders for the skin but are smelly at the same time. Even without open sores, I would be careful using anything strong, since that may irritate his skin even more and make him more itchy leading to more scratching and more sores. I would keep using the oatmeal shampoo as often as your vet says is okay. I love hylyt too, which is a mild soap free shampoo and has a good smell to it. It sounds like the smell is really the skin that is damaged, especially since the shampoo did not help. You may want to suds him up and let it soak for 10 minutes before rinsing. You can talk to the vet about environmental or food allergies. Depending on how long you have had him a high quality diet will help. If your vet thinks food allergies are possible and you don't want to try the prescription diets, ask about Natural Balance ones that are over the counter such as duck and potato. If you do try a food trial, remember no table scraps or anything that is not the diet for about 6 weeks to see a difference. Good luck and hope the little guy grows on you soon.

Saw your update: Glad he starting to smell better. It did sound like you had had him to the vet a couple of times before asking for help. Skin issues can be real pain, so glad it is healing and he is on the road to recovery!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I had a smelly cat rescued from a kitty mill. She had funky skin and fur and smelled funny for months. But with care, she healed up and smelled just fine.

Don't forget, these poor pets are seriously traumatized from these experiences and like humans who have survived trauma, take a few months to even years to recover. A good vet will help you to find the source of problems and get him on the right track to health.

Smells and health on a pet go hand in hand. Rest assured, he will smell better as he recovers. Their skin, fur, waste and smells will improve greatly from a top notch diet. I know they're pricey, but pet foods like Eukanuba or Science Diet are formulated to help pets digest food more effectively and are fortified with nutrients etc that will help improve their coats and skin.

Avoid using perfume (even pet products) insecticides (flea collars and powders) and fancy pet shampoos. The vet is right. Oatmeal wash is the way to go until his skin heals up. Otherwise you risk prolonging and worsening the condition.

Make sure he has a soft bed. This will help him heal up too. The more expensive ones have natural smell repellants (like cedar) in them to control the doggie odors.

Be sure to brush his teeth with a dog toothbrush and paste...or pay a groomer to do it. Bad teeth and tartar can make an entire dog smell mighty bad. No need to do this everyday like for people...but at least once a month and give him teeth cleaning bones in between to keep him smelling good and his teeth clean.

Don't leave him outside. Dogs love to roll in smelly things. If he's in more than out, less chance of him doing those doggie things, and that means less chance of him smelling funny.

Sometimes castor oil on a cotton ball dabbed on dry or sore patches can help speed up healing. Do not over do it, as castor oil can cause loose bowels if he ingests too much. So dabbing is the way to go...enough to soften and soothe the patches, not enough to get things going if he licks himself. Soaking in Epsom Salt is helpful too.

Any chance the doc gave you any sort of antifungal or antibiotic to help speed healing?

I agree with others who've suggested cleaning the ears. That's another spot that can get smelling if there's infection. The doc should have noticed and given you a cone and antibiotics if that's the case.

I know he's bugging you now...but mark my words. The little "stinker" will grow on you. And he's going to love you to pieces for saving him from the shelter. Dogs are incredibly loyal and loving if you give them a chance.

I promise, when he gets healthy, he'll smell just fine. Dogs generally do not stink if they're not neglected or sickly. I have big labs and people are always shocked when they find out...saying by looking and smelling your house I"d never known you had big dogs.

If you keep them brushed and cared for, they'll be clean and pleasant companions.

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answers from Seattle on

I have a very healthy lab... but he's a waterdog... and comes with a double coat. Which means he's OILY. Add to the fact that I didn't want him neutered until he was full grown (for physical development, since he's a boy the testis are fully removed, and I wanted his growth hormones to let his muscles and bones and etc develop fully)... so he has adult dog scent.

I bathe him once a week, unless he's being fed raw food, in which case he can go 2-3 weeks. Sigh. I MISS raw food, it also keeps them from having "dog-breath". He NEVER has dog breath when he's on an all raw food diet (and of course, is just generally healthier). But since we moved away from our butcher, the only option is MudBay, and wetnoses/etc is waaaaay to expensive for us.

For my (non skin problem) dog, I use "Buddy Wash", which is fantastic. Regardless of what shampoo you use... DO make sure not to use people shampoo. Dog shampoo has a different Ph than people shampoo. People type makes their skin burn.

((For more info on raw food... check out here : We always fed our carnivors raw food growing up just off of tradition -even during the depression my grandfather fed his dog the way he always had been since he raised rabbits and his dogs helped him hunt... but prior to the depression ALL dogs were fed that way. It wasn't until the depression that people who loved their animals were looking for a way to keep them alive on foods they couldn't eat. Science Diet is actually rather proud of that, but it's still the canine equivelent to eating boiled shoes. It will keep them alive and relatively healthy, but it's not the diet that they've evolved for. I came across this book a few years ago when I started running into others who were feeding raw. But it makes sense now, why most peoples pets die when they're 10ish, and have so many health problems, and ours always lived into their 20's with almost no problems to speak of.))

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answers from Allentown on

Bless you both for giving this poor guy a home. Sounds like the skin issues may be the cause. My little rescued doggie has allergies and scratches a lot, needs to get a cortisone shot every so often to put an end to the cycle and allow healing. Brushing usually helps with normal smelliness. Did the vet check his teeth? Rotten teeth could also cause odor.

You could put doggie beds or blankets in specific areas in your house so he learns that's where he can rest (not on your furniture or rugs, to get it all smelly). Put them in places where it's tiled, like the kitchen, so it's easy to wash the bedding and mop the area.

The other moms have given some good ideas too, so hopefully something will help. We have a number of rescued pets and in time we found the love and amusement they provide far outweighs the inconvenient smelliness/fur/litter-cleaning.

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answers from Kansas City on

His skin problems might be allergies and he found an itchy spot and kept on biting on it.

As far as the smell, you could mix up some plain white vinegar in with his shampoo and let it sit on his skin for a while(you might have to do it a few times). that may take the smell out, I know it works wonders, when I accidentally leave my clothes in the washer too long and they get that sour smell. Vinegar works wonders, on so many things.

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answers from Sacramento on

I wouldn't take him to a groomer. Your dog probably has skin issues.
One of ours does. He would be allergic to a food so we took him to a specialist her for dogs and got him on the right food.
In the meantime, you can bathe him every so often but make sure the shampoo you are using he isn't allergic to or it will just make it worse.
One thing I did was take a baby wipe and I would often wipe down our dog's coat to rid the smell. She had oily skin so she was constantly sinky. Just make sure your dog isn't allergic to the wipes.
I used Frebreeze throughout the house and vacuum ALL the time.
Bless you for taking this dog in.
I know it's hard but it is worth it the end: especially for the dog and for your husband.
Also, if he's not allergic to it (which he might be making the skin issue worse) you can sprinkle baby powder on his fur to help rid the smell.



answers from Indianapolis on

He smells because of the the dead skin cells on his body. One - he needs to be bathed everyday! Two - try a rinse on him after you bath him. Baking soda & water should help. On the worst areas, use a little olive oil or a very rich, oily hand cream. Remember his skin is very dry. Whatever you do, make it comfortable for both you & the dog. I get the impression you are the one stuck bathing him. Oh, make sure hubby has a hand in caring for the dog. One other thing that might help get the stink out of his fur, clean dirt! Not potting soil; but good ole Mother Earth.

Make sure his diet isn't a cause of the body odor. Open a can of green beans & give that to him when you feed him. Put a half of a can of the green beans on top of his canned dog food. The beans will help to cleanse his bodily functions, plus he'll think he's getting a treat with his meal. Also, check out Rachel Ray's receipes that she has developed for her dog. This is something hubby can do as a special night for all. These can be eaten by humans too!

All you can really do now is wait & see what regular bathing & good meals will do for the new member of your family.



answers from Canton on

ok not sure if this is the problem but I'll go out on a limb here. We have a Beagle. Have had her since a puppy and some beagles develope a secreation from their rear end that is a horrible smell. GROSS I know!!! On a positive note, the vet can "pack it" and it does go away. If this is not your problem, sorry for the details : )
Good luck!



answers from Columbus on

There's always the old "skunk smell remedy", tomato juice in a tub. It may neutralize the odor. Or, white vinegar. Both are acidic, and may be irritating on contact depending on his skin condition. The thing with vinegar though, is that it also works as an astringent, and actually reduces inflammation on the skin (also works great if you get a sunburn!). It might take a shaving, then washing with a tar and/or tea tree oil shampoo such as Neutragena T-gel Shampoo (people shampoo, but it works). We had a beagle that escaped from time to time, and when she came back, she ALWAYS smelled like she had fallen into an outhouse. From what I understand, this is instinct to disguise their "dog smell", from whatever they are hunting for. If the odor is in the fur, shaving, then at least weekly washing, will help get rid of the majority of the odor. Or you can wait it out until he sheds, and hope that the new fur growth doesn't absorb the odor as it grows out. Good luck with your beagle. Ours was great, even on her smelly days.



answers from Los Angeles on

how do you know he does not have mange, the only way to tell is with a skin scrape - so unless you have had that done you can't tell - my dog had it once - caught it from a boarding kennel, stunk so bad, scratched till he bled, lost his fur - sounds like your dog - revolution from the vet will cure it



answers from Cleveland on

We have been known to use Baby Shampoo since is fine for sensitive skin and smells good :-)



answers from Cincinnati on

I know you got tons of answers already but I agree with the response I read from Chris W. Make sure you are not feeding a crappy cheap dog food. One with any kind of meat by-products and ground yellow corn. Those things can lead to skin issues as well. Now corn gluten meal is ok, it is the most nutrient part of corn. Also, some dog foods with omega-3 or an omega-3 supplement will help his coat and skin too. I used to work in a pet store and before that didn't really think about what is in dog or cat food but it makes all the difference! Went to a few dog food seminars and learned quite a bit about what they put in pet food! You would be amazed at what they put in the cheaper brands! YUCK. Good luck and I am sure it will go away with time.



answers from Cincinnati on

You might also look into a homemade diet for him. I just read a book by Lew Olsen about raw and homemade diets. I am going to try it out. It is supposed to help with a lot of allergy and skin issues, as well as a host of other things (like better health and longevity). I got it from the library.



answers from Springfield on

Some of the dog's itchiness may be due to allergies and there is a lot of pollen in the air. He may have had fleas before you got him and one flea bite to a dog that is allergic to them causes a great deal of discomfort that doesn't leave as soon as the fleas are irradicated. And believe it or not, while many dogs are resistant to baths (one of ours does everything short of spread-eagling herself outside the bathroom door), they all feel better for being bathed regularly and get a great deal of pleasure out of the stroking that goes along with the bath. I'm glad you are being diligent with those baths because with time that doggy smell should reduce significantly. When you get a sniff of it again....time to bathe!
Beagles are generally a very loving breed, who enjoy being around their "family". They are usually great with kids and with other small animals (that is, can be taught not to chase the family cat; we had one who loved to sleep with our cats).
Rescuing a dog that has been abused, neglected or abandoned is an act of great kindness but it needs to be done with an open heart, because it takes time for everyone (dog and people) to mesh together. You are obviously a caring person, as evidenced by the fact you have sought veterinary help. I suspect it won't be long before you learn to love your new family member. Animals can add so much richness to the quality of our lives and research has shown pet owners are generally healthier, have lower blood pressure and a more positive outlook on life in general. Good luck and hang in there; it is worth the wonderful effort you are making.



answers from Chicago on

One of our dogs has black skin disease and it makes her smell funky. After spending a fortune at the vet on prescription shampoos and sprays I started looking on-line to see what others had done. Someone suggested using Dawn dishwashing detergent and, voila, it works great! It's gentle and takes the smell away. I've saved a ton of money by not buying the prescription stuff that didn't work anyway.



answers from Indianapolis on

Beagles are the best dogs, just hang in there, he will get better and you will be so glad that you took him.......they are very loving and kind.....Good Luck.....and take care......and thank you for helping a beagle in need.....



answers from Bloomington on

Another thing to try that may help is dryer sheets. Just wipe him down with a nice smelling dryer sheet. I know it sounds weird but someone told me this and it does help. Dogs with short hair (like beagles) have a lot more dander that long hair dogs and the dryer sheets will also help reduce this dander.



answers from Des Moines on

Just to let you know, Beagles tend to smell more than other breeds. We have a Beagle(that we adore) and she always needs a bath! They love to smell everything and they will most likely roll in it...this is wny they stink! As I am sitting here, I can smell my Beagle from across the room! Once you get the smell out, you will have to bathe him often...just to keep it from coming back!

Have fun...I love having a Beagle...they are great!!



answers from Cleveland on

Hi - I have a beagle-basset hound mix and she can get smelly too! Two other things to check - I apologize if someone else already mentioned them - are the ears and the anal glands (gross, I know.) Beagles' ears need to be cleaned regularly and can give off that dog smell if they're not. An ear infection could be a problem too but the vet can give you a pretty inexpensive antibiotic to go directly in the ear.

The anal glands on some dogs can get blocked and need to be squeezed. Yes, it is really gross. It gives off a pretty strong smell though and is not what I think of as the typical dog smell. I hope you figure something out! Good luck.



answers from Cincinnati on

I Have two beagles and from time to time they get a little smelly...but nothing too bad.You need to check his ears. If the inside looks normal, then fine but if you see black stuff in there. If so, the dog has an ear infection and needs to see a vet for anitbiotics....Beagles are nortorious for getting them because of the way their ears traps a even after a bath you need to dry his ears up. An ear infection could be the sorce of your smelly dog too as an infection does not smell good
OK next the smell....I know when our dogs have been sprayed with a skunk we SOAK them in tomatoe juice. You will need to put some elbow grease and soak the dog for awhile.
The smell not go away overnight and you might have to repeat the process a couple times but it SHOULD get better.
I will say for our dogs I wash them with Mane N Tail...its a horse Shampoo that you can buy at walmart. I aslo use their conditioner to help with keeping their coat nice and shiney.
Hope the doggie is doing better....I LOVE my beagles....They are a wonderful family dog once you get the bellering bark under control..ha ha :)



answers from Columbus on

First off, I know you don't want the dog. But, now that the dog is here, please try to show some compassion for the poor critter. Put yourself in his place--living in a garage with 16 other animals, probably eating nasty food or little food and having your whole body itch and/or hurt..... Imagine what that would be like..... Hopefully that will put the smell into perspective--compared to that, a doggy smell is really not a big deal.... :)

Putting him on a good quality dog food will help. A good quality food will have at bare minimum, meat as the first ingredient should be meat--and preferably the first 2 ingredients should be meat, and you should be able to read the ingredients (like real people food), and shouldn't have anything labeled as a "by-product"; avoid dog foods that have a lot of fillers or grains (like corn, beet pulp, etc).

You may also want to put the dog on fish oil (1-2 caps per day), since this can help with itching and the omega fatty acids are good for him.

With our dogs, who are healthy & do have healthy coats/skin, if I can't bathe them (I use a mild, scent free puppy shampoo). If I don't have time to bathe them, I use about 1 to 2 T of baking soda, and rub it through their fur, then brush it out. The soda absorbs some of the oils from the hair (the oils hold the smell) and so they are fresher smelling after you brush the soda off the dog.

Definitely continue to wash the bedding, too. And if he lays in a particular spot on the carpet, you can sprinkle some baking soda on that spot, let it sit for a few minutes, and vacuum it up. I have an old spice jar with a "sprinkler" opening that I use for this purpose, and I added some dried lavender blossoms to it. So when I vacuum, the lavender scent is released, in addition to the doggy odors being absorbed.

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