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Top Tips for Cleaning a Stinky Puppy

Imagine these scenarios: You’re playing fetch with your puppy in the yard. You turn around and bend over to pick up the ball–and you promise it’s just a quick second! When you turn around, your mouth drops open when you see your puppy righting herself from rolling in something and is now covered in an unidentified substance just standing there wagging her tail, seemingly asking, “What are you looking at?” Then it hits you–a foul smell so putrid it makes your nose hairs curl. While you’re recoiling and probably hollering from the stench, your puppy has rubbed up against you because she’s curious about all the noise her silly human is making.

Or maybe you’re enjoying a calm moment with the sun streaming in your window while sipping your morning cold brew. Finally, five minutes of peace! All of a sudden, you detect a stench that is definitely not from your favorite candle. You look over and note your couch does not normally have brown spots…and see your faithful companion as happy as can be with her tongue out also covered in those brown “spots.” While you’re getting paper towels, your puppy has now knocked over your drink, happily splashing in the small puddle forming, and has tracked your special surprise all over your floors and furniture.

We’ve all been there, and if not, your moment is coming! It’s only a matter of time before your puppy gets stinky for some reason. Here’s what to do when that pungent odor radiating from your puppy wafts toward you like a green cloud in cartoons.

Why Does My Dog Stink?

The first step in figuring out how to clean a stinky puppy is to discover what is causing the smell in the first place. So many issues can cause odor! Some causes are completely natural, others indicate a medical condition that can range from mild to severe, or your puppy could have merely gotten into something.

Dogs have a natural odor

It’s natural for a dog to become stinky. Dogs exercising outside can bring in a particular outside smell. Some dogs may stink badly after playing in the sprinkler, frolicking in the rain, or swimming in a lake, water, creek, or pool.

It’s important to keep a dog’s natural odor to a minimum. Pay attention to your dog’s coat. Undesirable items like bits of feces and other nasty items can get entangled in your puppy’s fur. Brushing regularly also helps prevent matting, which can capture smells of its own. It’s important to choose the right brush for your puppy’s coat and keep up with a brushing schedule that best suits your four-legged friend.

Puppies will have accidents that cause them to be stinky, especially during the potty training phase, so never scold your dog or rub her nose in it. Dogs vomit for various reasons that don’t necessarily indicate a medical condition. Try to be proactive to prevent stinky incidents.

Whether normal or serious, some medical issues can cause your dog to exhibit malodor. Start by doing a full-body scan in and out to see if you can find the source of the stench before calling the vet.

Why do my puppy's paws smell weird?

Some people may notice a yeasty odor coming from their puppy’s paws that smells similar to corn chips or popcorn. This particular scent is caused by the by products of certain natural types of bacteria activated when your puppy sweats through its paws and is completely normal. However, if you smell something fouler than a mild smell, check in between their paws to see if they stepped in something or have an infection.

Why your puppy's ears stink

Over time, gunk can build up in a puppy’s ears. Light brown ear wax is the body’s way of cleaning out ear canals, and it may have a faint odor. If it’s particularly foul, you notice discharge or an abnormal amount of build-up or odd color, or your dog is shaking its head or scratching its ears, make an appointment with the vet because your pup may have an ear infection, yeast, mites, or allergies.

Examine body fluids

Yes, body fluids stink, which is natural (and unpleasant). However, absolutely pay attention if you see a different consistency, discoloration, or blood in urine, feces, or vomit. This could indicate a very serious medical emergency. Diarrhea can also be caused by the wrong type or formula of food, indicating sensitivities, intestinal parasites, or another serious condition.

Look for infected areas

Start with a nose-to-tail examination of your puppy. Check outside as well as inside the mouth. Dental issues in puppies give off bad odors and indicate something’s not right. Some skin conditions in dogs can cause abnormal smells, so you may need to part the fur and look carefully for signs of infection like red spots, flaking, scaling, or oozing. Pus from abscesses most certainly has an unpleasant odor indicating that dead white blood cells have tried to fight infection. Ruptured cyst contents also have a foul scent, so be sure to contact your vet if you notice any infected areas.

Express anal glands

Anal glands are two small sacs on either side of the anus that fill up with a fishy, foul-smelling fluid. When the sacs are full, the anal glands can either be expressed naturally from bowel movements or manually by owners or a professional. If you see your puppy scooting across the floor, licking its backside, or notice a pungent, fishy odor, it’s probably time to check the anal glands.

Why do dogs like things that smell bad?

Your puppy is learning all about the world around her, so of course, she will want to investigate anything new in her world. Unfortunately, curiosity may get the best of her. Look around the room to see if there are any soiled areas or take a trip outside to scour for unsightly patches. When dogs roll around in smelly stuff, it’s called scent rolling. Animal behavioralists aren’t entirely sure why puppies do this, but it may have something to do with following their ancestors’ instincts to mask smells from predators when hunting.

Foul odors may result from:

  • Garbage

  • Animal Carcasses

  • Animal Waste

  • Body Fluids

  • Skunk Spray

Choose the Right Products to Clean a Smelly Puppy

Inevitably, a puppy will cause other surfaces to smell, too. You’ll need to remove soil from tainted surfaces to prevent lingering pet odors.

Various situations require different methods to clean up any odors. The internet can often give conflicting opinions or an overwhelming amount of information on ways to clean a stinky puppy. Regardless of how you treat animal odor, make sure it’s safe for your puppy! A quick call to the vet can give peace of mind about the best cleaning method and pet-friendly, non-toxic cleaning products for your specific situation.

Select the appropriate treatment for removing odors from your puppy

When addressing how to clean a smelly pup, you may have a single treatment, follow medication and let it run its course to clear up the odor source, or have several follow-up treatments over a period of time if it’s a particular stinky situation. Always be gentle with your puppy, and don’t scrub her vigorously.

Don’t forget that you’ll probably need not only cleaning supplies for your pup, but for your home (or soiled area) and even for you! Odors can linger even if you do a surface clean, so look into whether you need a deep clean for items like floors, dry cleaning clothing and bedding, etc.

Gather materials to clean your puppy

Depending on the issue, it could be as easy as checking your cabinets. You could use household items or shampoos you already have on hand. Check your cleaning supply area for any brooms, dustpans, mops, buckets, rubber or disposable gloves, and brushes. Medication can be picked up from your vet in person or via mail. If you have to run out and buy supplies right away, make sure your pup is contained in one area or crate so you don’t spread around the mess in your house. If it’s incredibly bad and you can’t leave your pup, consider using a delivery service if there is one in your area for those absolutely dire circumstances!

You can choose disposable options like paper towels or washable things like rags, old towels, and sheets that you don’t mind getting messy or stained. Throw away soiled disposables in a separate trash bag so you don’t stink up your household trash, and take out the bag immediately to the outside bin or dumpster.

If you want to wash items whether they are your own clothing or cleaning rags, you may need a special detergent with enzymes designed to remove tough stains and proteins. Follow instructions for the water temperature setting, and consider an extra rinse or line dry items instead of using a dryer to avoid heat setting lingering stains. Always check to see if stains were removed to the best of your ability, and if not, you may need to continue washing until everything is clear.

Lastly, you may need to gather some patience and time! Remediating a smelly puppy may not be a one-and-done situation. You may need to allow products to soak into surfaces. Drying time may take up to a few days to prevent soft materials from molding. It will be worth it in the end to remove those odors!

A How-to Guide to Cleaning Your Puppy

As always, consult your veterinarian for recommendations or serious issues. Otherwise, here are some common causes of odor and how to clean your furry friend.

Rub-a-dub-dub: Bathing your stinky puppy

How fun – your puppy is now getting an unexpected spa day! Have those towels and shampoo handy. Recruit some help. A buddy can help you distract your puppy while you focus on shampooing. A detachable shower head helps. Be prepared to get wet, especially when puppies are wiggly or like to shake everywhere. Clean up afterward by wiping up excess water, sweeping, vacuuming, wiping out the tub, removing hair to prevent clogging, and washing towels. Exercise patience!

Cleaning a puppy's smelly ears

You may just need a soft cloth to clean out dirty ear gunk. Using a gentle liquid ear wash also cuts down on the smell. Administer any medications by following directions.

How do I make my dog's breath smell good?

For stinky dog breath, special dog dental care products like Greenies, breath strips and sprays, dog toothbrushes, and toothpaste can promote oral hygiene and treat bad smells. Practice good doggy oral hygiene to prevent bad breath in the first place. Monitor your dogs while giving special treats, and follow instructions for serving sizes and usage.

Removing skunk odor from your puppy

All puppy parents dread the moment they realize their puppy has been sprayed by a skunk! Before buying all the cans of tomato juices in the area, there are several methods of removing skunk odor from your puppy, you, and the infiltrated area. Regardless of the method you choose, make sure to bathe your puppy outside as quickly as possible to remove oils and prevent the scent from seeping into surfaces.

Be patient when dealing with a dirty, smelly puppy

Have patience when cleaning your stinky puppy! It’s always best to be prepared with supplies and the vet’s phone number programmed into your phone in case you have questions about treating a stinky puppy.

Find Your Little Stinker at SacBulldogs

Here at SacBulldogs, we’re happy to help you search our puppies for sale to find available puppies to cater to your lifestyle. Call our Puppy Concierge Team at (916) 820-4737 to find your healthy, happy puppy!

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