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How To Make Your Dog Smell Good Without a Bath (8 Simple Steps)

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Dr. Lorna Whittemore

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If you’ve started noticing you can smell your dog before you see them, it’s time to do your nose a favor and take care of the issue. You know you can give your dog a bath but what if you don’t have time? Are there any other options available?

In this article, we’ll tell you how to make your dog smell good without a bath in eight simple steps. Read on to learn how to help your stinky dog lose the odor without having to get them wet and be left with a mess!

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Before You Begin

Your dog’s odor could be coming from one or more sources, which means there is a range of different steps you can take to help them smell better. Before you begin dealing with the stink, see if you can narrow down a particular part of your dog that seems extra smelly. For example, do they have bad breath or dirty ears?

Preparation

Depending on the source of your dog’s smell, you might need one or more of the following supplies:

  • Ear cleaner
  • Gauze or cotton balls
  • Dental care products
  • Brush
  • Waterless shampoo
  • Cornstarch or baking soda
  • Doggy cologne or perfume
  • Dog cleaning wipes
  • Laundry detergent (not for the dog)

Again, you likely won’t need every one of these items to help your dog smell better, but we wanted you to be aware of all the possible options just in case.

How To Make Your Dog Smell Good Without a Bath

1. Clean Their Ears

Your dog’s ears can be an overlooked source of an odor, easily remedied without a bath. Smelly ears can also indicate an ear infection, especially if the ears are also red, swollen, painful, or full of discharge. If you suspect an ear infection, see your veterinarian.

To clean your dog’s ears, you’ll need a doggy ear cleaner and cotton balls or gauze. Squeeze a little cleaner into the dog’s ear canal and massage to break up any deep-set dirt and odor. Step back and let your dog shake their head then use cotton balls or gauze to wipe out the ears.

Clean out all the folds of your dog’s ears thoroughly. Avoid sticking anything too far down the ear canal, such as a Q-tip. Repeat the process for the other ear, using fresh cotton balls or gauze.

owner cleaning his dog ears
Image Credit: Yavdat, Shutterstock

2. Brush Your Dog Regularly

Brushing is another way to keep your dog clean and smelling fresh without a bath. Some dogs need to be brushed daily to keep their coats tangle-free. Short-coated dogs can also benefit from brushing 1-2 times a week, however.

A good brushing removes dirt and dead hair from your dog’s coat. It can also help spread their natural skin oils evenly, improving the look and feel of the coat.


3. Check Your Dog’s Teeth

Not all bad breath comes from your dog’s teeth, but good dental care is still a vital part of a dog’s grooming routine. Brushing your dog’s teeth is the best way to keep them healthy. Choose a toothpaste designed for dogs and brush daily if possible.

Some other options for dental care include dental wipes, chews, and water additives. Despite your best efforts, most dogs will still need a professional dental cleaning eventually. If your dog’s mouth still smells despite regular dental care, you may need to have your vet investigate other possible sources of bad breath.

brushing dog teeth
Image Credit: DWhiteeye, Shutterstock

4. Use Baking Soda or Cornstarch

For a simple “dry bath” to help your dog smell better, try baking soda or cornstarch. Either product can be sprinkled on your dog and worked into the coat to help absorb odors or excess oil. To remove, simply brush away the powder and the doggy smell with it!


5. Wash Your Dog’s Bed

If it’s been a while since your dog’s bedding has seen the washing machine, the stink of the material could be rubbing off on your dog. Over time, hair, dander, dirt, and oils can build up on your dog’s bed, even if your pup stays generally clean. The odor can then cling to your dog when they wake up from a snooze.

Give your dog’s bedding a thorough wash, possibly with a laundry additive designed to eliminate dog odors. If you can, dry the bedding outside rather than in the dryer. Sunlight and fresh air add another layer of deodorizing power.

dog bed
Image Credit: Jareerat, Shutterstock

6. Use Waterless Shampoo or Wipes

To get your pup smelling fresh without a bath, try one of the many waterless shampoos or wipes on the market. These products are designed to quickly clean and deodorize your dog without needing to be rinsed afterward.


7. Spritz With Doggy Cologne or Perfume

For a quick hit of smell-good fragrance, try spritzing your pup with one of the many dog colognes or perfumes available. Some of these sprays offer a deodorizing component but most just mask the dog’s smell with a preferable scent. They usually aren’t very long-lasting but can serve to make your dog smell better quickly if you have unexpected guests.

person spraying on dog's paw
Image Credit: trofalenaRV, Shutterstock

8. Evaluate Your Dog’s Diet

Sometimes, the source of your dog’s odor comes from within. Your dog’s food plays a key role in both their health and their scent. Gassy pups are no fun to live with, and poor-quality food or too many table scraps are often to blame.

Ask your veterinarian to recommend a quality, nutritionally-balanced dog diet. Don’t be distracted by trendy buzzwords like “grain-free” or “real meat sources.” Those are meant to attract your spending money and don’t necessarily indicate a healthier food or one that’s suitable for your dog’s particular needs.

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What If My Dog Still Smells No Matter What I Do?

If your dog still stinks despite your best efforts, with and without bathing, it’s time for a trip to the veterinarian. Various skin conditions can cause your dog to smell and will resist all your attempts to battle the stench. Especially suspect a skin condition if you notice other symptoms such as scratching, hair loss, or a flaky coat.

Skin conditions can be frustrating to diagnose and treat. Patience and thoroughly following your vet’s treatment plan are essential. In some cases, your vet may suggest a referral to a veterinary dermatologist for more specialized and advanced care.

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Conclusion

You can’t always avoid giving your dog a full bath, especially if they routinely play in the mud or suffer from allergies. However, frequent bathing can disrupt your dog’s natural skin and coat oils, drying them out. Try these 8 steps to help your dog smell better without a bath and save the complete spa treatment for when your pup really needs it.


Featured Image Credit: Christin Lola, Shutterstock

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