How to Make a Puppy Smell Good [And Why They May Stink]

CareHow to Make a Puppy Smell Good

If you want to make your puppy smell good, you need to first figure out why they stink in the first place. If breath is the issue, brush their teeth using doggy toothpaste. If they’re passing a lot of gas, they may be allergic to their food. Switching to a new puppy friendly food might be the answer. If it’s their fur, they need a bath. You can use the “cotton ball” bath method on puppies.

Newborn puppies give off a fresh smell that makes them lovely to cuddle. Most owners wish they could preserve that smell forever, but it’s just not possible. Between dogs’ love of stinky things and the inevitable health troubles like flatulence and oily skin, the lovely smell will disappear for good.

If you’ve noticed your puppy losing his delightful odor, you might wonder how to slow the process. The steps you take should depend on the source of the unpleasant smell. Is it constant, or does it only show up after meals? Does it seem to be coming from his mouth or his coat?

Bad Breath

A new puppy’s sweet breath can slowly turn nasty as the puppy begins to teethe. Bacteria develops on his gums, creating a fishy smell as his adult teeth replace his baby teeth.

During these two months, don’t worry too much about any bad smells. This is a natural process, so you don’t need to worry about dental hygiene or tooth brushing. It should improve on its own after six months of age; if it doesn’t, consult your vet.

While your puppy is teething, offer him a selection of soft chewing toys. Hard toys can hurt his developing teeth.

Avoid rope toys as well, as they can fray and catch in his mouth. You can even freeze a washcloth or a soft toy to soothe his mouth. A rubber Kong full of peanut butter can be a great, long-lasting teething toy. Soft nylabones in an appropriate puppy size can work as well; the soft bumps can feel good on his gums.

Once your puppy has finished teething, you can begin brushing his teeth to maintain good dental hygiene and avoid bad breath.

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From the beginning of your puppy’s life, practice gently handling his ears, paws, and mouth. Hold his muzzle, lift the sides of his mouth, open his mouth, and put your hand in his mouth. If you start this early in your puppy’s life, you will have a much easier and more relaxed time when it comes time to brush his teeth.

Visit the pet store and pick up a doggy toothbrush and toothpaste. Your vet can recommend something if you are not sure.

When your puppy is calm, introduce him to the toothbrush. Let him sniff it and touch it to his muzzle. Once he has reacted positively, offer him a little taste of the dog toothpaste and let him get used to it.

  • After putting a bit of toothpaste on the brush:
  • Start with the top teeth, working from the front to the sides.
  • Keep cheering your dog on, keeping the atmosphere light and positive.
  • If he is responding well, move on to the bottom teeth. You can even brush the inside of his teeth if he doesn’t mind.

Reward your dog handsomely each time you finish brushing. He might even get excited when you get out the toothbrush!

If the session is turning into a stressful wrestling match, consider waiting for a better time. Just make sure he doesn’t think that he’s getting his way by fussing.

If your dog is not coping well with toothbrushing at home, ask your vet about sedation cleaning options. These are also an excellent choice for deeper cleanings if your dog has gotten behind on his dental care.

If your puppy is not teething, has clean teeth, and still exhibits bad breath, especially a sweet, sour, or rotten smell, take him to the vet to check for oral tumors, gum disease, and diabetes.

Tummy Troubles

Even the cleanest puppy can stink up a room by passing gas. A little bit of flatulence is expected in any dog, but excessive, persistent gas can signal digestive distress. This could be a sign of allergies or just poor digestion.

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With a puppy, you haven’t yet had time to discover any of his allergies. Allergies to wheat, soy, milk, fish, and different types of meat are quite common. Your vet can help you test for allergies and pick an allergen-free food for your dog to enjoy. This process can take some trial and error, but will help save you and your puppy from uncomfortable, smelly gas.

Aside from allergies, there are a variety of foods that can upset a puppy’s stomach. Avoid feeding him large quantities of human food. Not only are there dangerous ingredients to look out for, but dogs’ stomachs are not built for salty, processed foods.

Foods that are spicy or fatty are particularly gas-inducing. Peas, beans, soybeans, and milk can also cause flatulence, even if your puppy is not allergic.

If your puppy is not allergic to milk, you can offer him some ginger and yogurt to calm his gas. For persistent gas, your vet can recommend a probiotic or over-the-counter gas medication. Keeping your puppy active can help improve flatulence as well. A combination of treatments and food assessment can clear the air in your house for good.


If your smelly puppy is scooting across the ground or rubbing his head on the carpet, it can give clues as to what is ailing him. A yeasty smell combined with head rubbing and scratching usually signals an ear infection.

On the other hand, if your dog smells rotten and is scooting on the carpet, he may have impacted anal glands.

Usually, dogs are able to naturally express their anal glands, but if they become impacted, it is very unpleasant for both the dog and the human who has to smell it.

A vet or groomer can help express your dog’s anal glands. Contrary to some opinions, you should not always express your dog’s anal glands for him. Instead, allow your dog to do so naturally unless he is showing discomfort.

Stinky Skin

Keep your dog bathed with warm water and dog-friendly shampoo (if your dog has dandruff, look for a dandruff-specific shampoo). Roughly every 3 months is a good schedule for bathing your pup.

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You can wash your dog outside with a hose, but be gentle. You can also bathe him in the bathtub using a showerhead or a bowl to pour the water.

Use distracting treats like peanut butter to cheer him up and hold his attention. Try to be firm and assertive without hurting or panicking the dog. If he has medium or long hair, give him a good brushing in between baths. Take special care to clean and wipe dry your dog’s skin folds, if he has any.

If smells are lingering after a bath, consider washing your dog’s bedding, which can hold on to and transfer odors.

Persistent musty smells can also be linked to seasonal or food allergies that promote inflammation and oil production in the skin. Try switching your dog to a more natural food with fewer grains and fillers.

If he is still suffering, he may need allergy-specific foods. Dogs with seasonal allergies can benefit from a dose of Benadryl, generally 1 mg per 1 pound of body weight. If you have a small dog, a vet can prescribe your dog a smaller dose of Benadryl than what is sold for humans.

Create a Foundation of Good Routines

When your puppy transitions from the infant stage, it’s hard to let go of the fresh, perfect smell. The first sign comes from teething, which is an unavoidable period of bad breath. After that, creating a foundation of good routines like tooth brushing and bathing can promote health and beat unpleasant odors. If the smells are sticking around, assess your dog’s allergies and look for any symptoms of infection or digestive problems. Keeping your dog clean and fresh will give him healthier skin, while feeding him nutritious food can promote energy and prevent infections.

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Bryan Harkins
Bryan Harkins
Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.

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