Skip to main content

How to Get Rid of Dog Smells In Your House

Judi likes to write about trending topics from history to animal care to travel.

Don't get rid of the dog, get rid of the smell!

Don't get rid of the dog, get rid of the smell!

Dog Smells in the House

We've all visited a house and known that the owners have dogs the moment we step over the threshold. Not because a dog greets us, but because their smell assaults us. If you are a dog owner yourself, you may not even be aware that your dog is making your house smell - you just get used to it.

Don't let yourself be embarrassed by your dog's odour. Often our friends are too polite to mention the problem; they either stay away or accept that dog smells are an inevitable part of dog ownership. They aren't!

A few simple steps will have your house smelling fresh. You may even find you end up with a few more visitors!

Eliminating Dog Smells: Clean House and Clean Dog

Getting rid of dog smells is a bit like getting rid of fleas; you need to treat your dog and your house. Treating just one isn't going to work. You can have the sweetest smelling dog in the world, but if you don't wash his bed or tackle old stains, your house will still smell. Likewise, if you scrub the floors and shampoo the carpet, the effect will be short-lived if your dog is wandering around the house with a smelly coat.

A clean dog means a clean house!

A clean dog means a clean house!

Get Rid of Dog Urine Smells

Rule number one: never use bleach! The ammonia in it smells like urine to a dog, and he will simply use the spot again.

  • On a rug or bedding: try using cider apple vinegar in the wash (about a quarter cup)
  • On a carpet: soak up as much urine as you can with paper towels or newspaper, sprinkle the area with baking soda, leave for at least 30 minutes, then hoover or brush up. Repeat.
  • On hard floors: try mopping with a 3:1 solution of warm water and white vinegar.
If you're letting your dog on the sofa, don't forget a blanket under him - and the book and soda, of course!

If you're letting your dog on the sofa, don't forget a blanket under him - and the book and soda, of course!

Top Tips to Keep Your House Free of Dog Smells

Ideally, you will have hard floors and mop them every day. If you can keep carpets for upstairs or areas where your dog doesn't go, you will save yourself a lot of time in fighting dog smells. Likewise, keeping your dog off the furniture will cut down on work.

Realistically though, many of us have carpets and like letting the dog on the sofa. Here are some suggestions for keeping the house smelling fresh.

  • Open the windows daily and air the house.
  • Vacuum carpets and mop hard floors every day. This will remove hair, skin debris and is also a very valuable tool in keeping fleas at bay. Empty the vacuum bag and put it outside.
  • If the weather is dry, hang your dog's bedding outside to air while you take him out for a walk.
  • Wash pet bedding every week.
  • If you allow your dog on to the sofa, put a blanket down first. Wash this with the dog's bedding each week.
  • Shampoo or steam clean the carpet every month. A good steam cleaner can be very effective at shifting dog smells.
  • If your dog urinates on the carpet, deal with it immediately (see below for how to deal with dog urine smells).
  • If you are out when the dog urinates and can't locate the spot, try a "black light" to reveal the spot.

Dog Smells and Dog Health

Get your vet to check for underlying health problems.

Get your vet to check for underlying health problems.

Dogs, Diabetes and Smelly Breath

If your dog's breath has a smell of acetone (like nail polish remover), ask your vet to check him over, particularly if he has other symptoms such as rapid breathing, vomiting or lethargy. This could be an indication of diabetes ketoacidosis, a potentially lethal condition.

Keep Your Dog's Teeth Clean

Why is Your Dog Smelling?

Dogs don't have to smell unacceptably bad. A certain amount of odour is natural, but if your dog is smelling strongly, you should ask yourself why.

  • Do you bathe him regularly?

Once a month, at least, is recommended. If he likes to roll in muck, do it more often.

Groom him daily to remove old hairs and dander, this will help stop a build-up that can contribute to smelliness.

  • Does his breath smell?

Smelly breath can arise if you don't clean your dog's teeth. Tooth decay will cause bad breath and if the dog is also drooling, the saliva will get on the coat around the mouth and smell. Changes in the smell of the breath can indicate diabetes or kidney disease.

  • Are his ears smelly?

Sometimes a dog can get an ear infection and this will cause an extremely unpleasant smell. Take the dog to the vet. Don't try to treat it by cleaning the ears yourself; you can create a worse problem, particularly if you put water in the ears.

  • Full anal glands can cause bad smells

There are two glands on either side of your dog's anus. In most cases the secretions from these glands are drained naturally when your dog defecates. However, sometimes this doesn't happen and the glands become full, impacted and smelly. If not dealt with, the glands can become infected and very smelly. Your vet can express the glands, and show you how to do it too. This will eliminate the smell.

  • Is your dog flatulent?

It's normal for your dog to have some gas, but if it happens all the time, his diet may need to be adjusted. Ask your vet's advice.

The Buck Stops With You, Not Your Dog!

Remember that the responsibility for your dog and your home lies with you; the dog may be making the house smell, but it's only you who can deal with the problem. So what are you waiting for? Get rid of that dog smell from your house!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


Judi Brown (author) from UK on July 10, 2012:

Hi DrMark - hope you find this useful next time you deal with the problem! Thanks for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it.

Mark dos Anjos DVM from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 10, 2012:

I just addressed this problem yesterday; too bad I did not know the link to this hub! I will bookmark it for next time.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on May 22, 2012:

Hi eric-carter - glad you found this hub useful, thanks very much for taking the time to comment :-)

eric-carter from Fulham, UK on May 22, 2012:

Thanks, Judi! Those are some great tips you've shared, voting up!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on May 17, 2012:

Hi Lisa - delighted that you found this hub useful. I am lucky to have hard floors downstairs, which makes cleaning easier - it would be a drag if I had carpets.

Thanks so much for commenting, I do appreciate it :-)

Lisas-thoughts101 from Northeast Texas on May 17, 2012:

judi, nice hub. I appreciate the health tips with the dogs teeth, ears, breath, etc.. I don't know that I have time to vacuum daily but the thought is nice. I will be more aware of all the ideas in your hub, however. Thanks for all the information.

Take care,


Judi Brown (author) from UK on May 06, 2012:

Hi bayoulady - my dog is now going through a phase of licking my furniture, which I am trying to nip in the bud, or we are going to have a house that smells like dog slobber.

Thanks for your comments, much appreciated :-)

bayoulady from Northern Louisiana,USA on May 05, 2012:

Wow. I never though about a dog's bad breath exuding an odor in the house. It makes sense,of course. I have three little dogs,and when they play together,they slobber on each other. It IS stinky,ha!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on April 24, 2012:

Hi avantitexan - I haven't heard about pumpkin before, I shall remember that next time we have a problem! Glad you enjoyed the hub!

Thanks very much for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it :-)

avantitexan on April 24, 2012:

One of my dogs has some gland problems as well, especially after we travel (poor doggy has a nervous stomach), a few days of raw organic pumpkin gives him the fiber he needs, bulks up his stool and expresses his glands. Works well for him.

Great suggestions in the article! Thanks for sharing!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on April 05, 2012:

Hi PetCollars - absolutely right! It's just common sense, really, but sometimes we forget.

Thanks for taking the time to comment, much appreciated :-)

PetCollars from Saint Augustine, Florida on April 04, 2012:

Proper hygiene cleaning and grooming could help maintain ten good smell of your pet. Thanks for sharing.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on April 04, 2012:

Hi Linda - good point about allergies. I think a lot of people don't realise that dogs, as well as humans, suffer from a range of allergies.

Thanks for your comments, always appreciated :-)

Linda Liebrand from San Francisco on April 04, 2012:

Hi Judi - these are some great tips for keeping your house dog smell free. I keep forgetting to clean my dogs bedding and blankets, but I will get onto that straight away now that I've had some inspiration from you :o)

Worth adding as well is that keeping a dog's bedding and the floors clean and dust free will help both humans and dogs who have allergies...

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 22, 2012:

Hi Tenkay - no dog smells for you then! We don't have carpet downstairs either, which helps. Luckily our dog has never been one for toileting indoors.

Thanks for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it :-)

TENKAY from Philippines on March 22, 2012:

I am so lucky to live in a country where carpet is not mandatory and tiled or marble floors are the 'in' thing.

I got 4 dogs, a cat, a husband, and a small apartment. I wash the dogs once a week, the cat once a month. I walk the dogs almost everyday, and sometimes let them run around the park nearby to let out excess energy. I never have problems with emptying dog's anal glands, I guess it's because of their daily exercise. I got one male dog, who loves to water/urinate all the furniture inside the house. I solve this, by letting him stay in the garage area during the day and put him in a cage during the night, and give him vigorous exercise every other day. I have two types of blankets for the sofa, one for the dogs, and the other for visitors. Pets are added responsibility but the joy we get out of them is payment enough.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 17, 2012:

No worries dailygirl - hope all goes well.

dailygirl from Texas on March 17, 2012:

Awesome!! Thanks for the info!! We'll definitely get him to the vet.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on March 17, 2012:

Hi Dailygirl - as I understand it, the anal glands should ordinarily be emptied a little every time your dog has a bowel movement. However, this doesn't always happen. The usual cause is that the dog's stool is not firm enough - if it is too loose, there is no pressure on the anal sac to empty it. Then the sac/gland starts to get full and impacted. It may be that a change to your dog's diet will help, but I would take him to the vet just to check it out. Good luck!

dailygirl from Texas on March 17, 2012:

My dog has gland problems that cause awful smells, which we take care of as soon as we realize them. My husband and I take him to the groomer to get his glands expressed, but not long after he goes to the groomers, he's having gland issues again. Is it possible that our dog has overactive glands?

Judi Brown (author) from UK on February 26, 2012:

Hi Natashalh - you are so right about using a blanket or rug on the sofa, it makes life so much easier (and less smelly!).

Thanks for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it :-)

Natasha from Hawaii on February 26, 2012:

So awesome. I have dogs, but I hate when I go to someone's house and it reeks of dog. I always try to wash them and their things. I also find that keeping a blanket or rug on any furniture they are allowed to use helps, too. I can just wash it every week and keep the furniture from becoming soiled.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on February 26, 2012:

Hi vespawoolf - I agree wholeheartedly, I do have a dog, but I can't stand that dog smell! And thank you for your congratulations too! :-)

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on February 26, 2012:

I don't have a dog at the moment, but these are useful tips. There's nothing worse than a house that smells like animals! Congratulations on writing your 50th hub.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on February 26, 2012:

Hi Sannel - thanks for your congratulations, I have to say that I am enjoying writing more than I thought I would.

"Bouquet of roses" doesn't spring to mind when I think about my dog - you are very lucky!

Thanks for your comments and for sharing :-)

SanneL from Sweden on February 26, 2012:

Judi Bee, congrats on your 50th hub, great work! I have enjoyed reading them!! This is yet another great hub by you. Great tips how to avoid smelly dogs. I guess I have been very lucky, but I never had a problem with my dog. He always smells like a bouquet of roses! Hehe! However, I always wash him and his bed frequently. Voted up, useful and sharing this here and on FB. Thanks!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on February 26, 2012:

Hi Matt - thanks, I've never heard of this product!

Matt Ringer on February 25, 2012:

Odors are an ongoing problem for pet owners, candles and sprays are temporary fixes, which have to be replaced when they run out. Ionizers and Ozone generators are effective but require cleaning and filter replacement. I have used both to combat the odor problem from my dog Zippo. I have resolved the problem with a product named air-renu that you mix with paint. Works great and once applied it works 7/24 and does not have to be reapplied. . You can find it on the internet;

Judi Brown (author) from UK on February 25, 2012:

Hi Donna - thanks for the comments about the hub and for your support. Can't believe that I have managed to write 50 hubs, and enjoyed doing it so much!

Donna Cosmato from USA on February 25, 2012:

Great hub and some good, commonsense ways to keep the odors at bay. Best wishes on reaching the 50 hub milestone and here's to many, many more!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on February 23, 2012:

Hi Millionaire Tips - yes, it's definitely hard work, but if you keep on top of it, it isn't so arduous.

I have also read that you shouldn't wash a dog more than once a month but I have read just as many times that it's not a problem! I think that as long as you use a gentle shampoo (say, one based on colloidal oatmeal), use tepid water,don't rub too hard and rinse thoroughly, it's OK.

Thanks for taking the time to comment, good to hear from you :-)

Shasta Matova from USA on February 23, 2012:

Congratulations on your 50th hub. Keeping a house from smelling like a dog is a bit of work, especially since my dog sheds, but it is worth the effort. I have to take particular care to dry my dog if he has been outside when it was raining or muddy outside. That wet dog smell is the worst!

I thought I had read that you shouldn't wash a dog more than once a month because natural oils would strip away.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on February 23, 2012:

Hi robie2 - yes, this isn't rocket science, but it is very easily put off for another day...and soon no one is visiting you!

Thanks so much for your comments, I appreciate them :-)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on February 23, 2012:

Hi Cloverleaf - fortunately skunks aren't a problem for us in the UK. I can only imagine that my dog would be permanently lagged in skunk spray, that's just the kind of dog she is!

Good to hear from you, thanks for the comments :-)

Judi Brown (author) from UK on February 23, 2012:

Hi Cogerson - thanks for joining my 50th hub celebration! Glad to know that this hub will be useful for you.

Many thanks for taking the time to comment :-)

Roberta Kyle from Central New Jersey on February 23, 2012:

Absolutely wonderful hub and full of good advice-- getting rid of doggy odor is not only possible, it is the best thing to do for all concerned.. Thanks for doing this one

Louise from Calgary, AB, Canada on February 23, 2012:

Hi Judi Bee, thanks for these great tips. I remember one time my dog was sprayed by a skunk and I couldn't let her in the house for a couple of days! I had to pour several cans of tomato juice over her to tone down the smell....euuuch!

UltimateMovieRankings from Virginia on February 23, 2012:

Congrats on your 50th hub.....look forward to the next 50 you write and to checking out some of the other hubs you have already written.

As for this hub....lots of great information that will be used on our two chocolate labradors....voted up and useful.

Judi Brown (author) from UK on February 23, 2012:

Hi Tammy - I guess this hub is stating the obvious, but I have visited so many people whose houses were smelly because of their dogs, that maybe the obvious needs to be stated!

Wishing you a fresh smelling house when you get your pup! Thanks for commenting, much appreciated :-)

Tammy from North Carolina on February 23, 2012:

I will bookmark this hub as I plan to get a dog one day. I had a husky when I lived in SC. She sweat so bad and it was hard to keep her from smelling the house up. A very practical hub!

Judi Brown (author) from UK on February 23, 2012:

Hi Bill - I'm glad that you can make use of this hub. I am slightly paranoid about our dog making the house smell, particularly after we have been out for a walk in the rain. Oh, and then there's her penchant for rolling in fox poo. Or duck poo. Or any poo!

Thanks for your kind comments, much appreciated of course :-)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 23, 2012:

I will be referring to these suggestions today; perfect hub for our house. Great job as I always expect from you.