We love the dogs, cats and pocket pets we keep as companion animals. Their smells on the other hand are usually not so desirable. Animals are biologically different from us as people. For example, although dogs sweat, they do so quite differently from us. Whereas people form drops that fall off our skin, dogs sweat from their paws and hair follicles. It is this sweat combined with oil which produces the “dog smell.”

Medical Conditions

Dogs can also suffer from various medical conditions that can exacerbate the odor. Please take your pet to the vet if any of the following are a concern.

Ear Infections

The bacteria that develop inside a dog’s ear when suffering from an ear infection can create a nasty odor.

Poop Issues

Dogs can suffer from an anal problem known as impaction in which the incomplete emptying of fluid inside the two anal sacs on either side of the dog’s anus dries to the point of plugging the openings. Impaction usually needs to be treated by a vet.

Bad Breath

The issue of bad breath in dogs is quite common and is a key indicator that you need to brush their teeth and/or provide them a dental chew. Just like us, dogs can get periodontal disease or gingivitis and can even lose teeth. Some breeds are more prone to tooth issues than others and require annual cleaning by a vet. Such concerns are common among small breeds like Chihuahua’s and even some larger breeds like Greyhounds.

Leaky Eyes

Multiple causes exist for runny and/or mucus filled dog eyes including allergies. Such issues can also be breed specific, e.g., Bulldogs.

Again, please take your pet to the vet if you feel they are suffering from a medical ailment.

Eliminating Odors

If you are able to rule out a medical reason for the smell, your focus can shift to places in your home where bad smells coalesce.


Bed linens and sheets are a prime location for pet smells, especially if you sleep with your pet. Putting clean sheets on your bed and machine-washing the soiled one’s once a week is recommended. Remember to machine-wash your pet’s bed as often as one time per week as well.


Removing the cushions, dusting and vacuuming the couch are a good start. Utilizing a washing machine is good as well as long as the material is machine washable. Another technique is to generously sprinkle and spread baking soda on and around the couch. Allow it to sit overnight and vacuum the baking soda the following day. If none of that works, you might consider professional couch cleaning.


Household carpets are the perfect item for collecting all kinds of dirt and debris from the entire environment, not just your pets and their hair. This of course makes carpets excellent at trapping foul odors. Regular vacuuming is a must. If you can invest in a vacuum designed with pets in mind, I highly recommend it. Professionally cleaning your carpets at least once a year is also recommended.


Hardwood and tile floors are great at collecting dirt, dust, hair and dust bunnies, especially along the wall edges and corners. Regular dusting, vacuuming and mopping are highly recommended.


Make sure to properly bath your dog as appropriate for the breed. Although regular bathing is a great way to minimize your dog’s odors, you want to avoid over-washing as this can be bad for their coat and skin.

This article was adapted from a story in Mother Nature Network by Chanie Kirschner titled “How to banish pet smells from your house.”