Today we’ll find out why dogs smell, and discover the different causes of dog body odor. We’ll look at the best ways to make your dog smell sweet again, and at how to get rid of dog smell from your home.
Does your Labrador smell?
Dog smell is a common problem so if you have a stinky dog you are not alone.
Not all dog smell problems have the same cause.
You’ll find some common types of dog odor listed in the menu to the right
But let’s start with natural Labrador body odor.
Do Labradors smell?
Most Labradors do have quite a distinctive smell.
Visitors from dog-free homes will notice it immediately they enter your house.
Even if you are no longer aware of it.
“So what?” some of you may say, “What’s a bit of body odor between friends?”
And it is true that it is your home, and it’s up to you what it smells like.
Indeed, regular visitors will also get used to the odor and may hardly notice it after a while.
But why is it that some Labs are a bit more smelly than other dogs, and can you actually do anything about it? Let’s have a look. We’ll start with general dog body odors
Wet dog smell
And they can smell particularly strong when your dog is damp and drying off after a swim.
The worst of the smell will disappear once he is completely dry, so towelling him thoroughly after a swim will help.
However, this ‘wet dog smell’ is part of being a Labrador and not something that can be avoided altogether.
You can reduce your dog’s body odor by bathing him with shampoo (just making him wet won’t really help). But remember that this will interfere with your dog’s ability to keep himself warm whilst swimming, as it disrupts his oily waterproofing.
Bathing is therefore best confined to the summer, and to those occasions when your dog has decided to smear himself in something unpleasant. Which brings us to rolling…
My Labrador keeps rolling in things
Labradors love rolling in strong smelling substances which people find disgusting. Dead animals, and fox poo are favourites.
If you walk in places with a lot of public access, your dog may also find discarded nappies and other sources of human faeces with which to decorate himself.
This is perfectly normal canine behaviour and you’ll need to get to work with a hose to get the worst off, when you get home. And then decide whether or not you need to bring out the shampoo.
Some people swear that rubbing tomato ketchup into the fur before bathing helps, but a good shampoo is probably more effective.
When a dog smells like fish
If you notice a strong and rather fishy smell coming from your Labrador, this is not part of his normal Labrador smell, but is probably due to an anal gland problem.
The anal glands are located either side of your dogs anus, just under his tail, and are normally emptied regularly during defecation.
If your dog’s stools are too soft, these glands can become overfull and even blocked. And you may notice the unpleasant fishy smell in addition to your dog’s attempts to relieve his discomfort by scooting around on his bottom.
My dog’s ears smell
A smell coming from your dog’s ears is another sign of a health problem.
Labradors are more prone to ear infections and parasites than dogs with upright ears. That’s because the ear flaps create a warm, moist environment where germs can thrive.
Dogs with ear infections may scratch at their ears and rub their heads on the ground, but even if your dog is not doing this he needs to see a vet about any odor coming from his ears.
My dog’s urine smells
Concentrated urine smells a bit stronger than very dilute urine, so if your dog has not had enough to drink his urine may smell stronger than usual
But persistently strong smelling urine in a dog that is well hydrated, or urine that smells foul, may be a sign of an infection in your dog’s bladder or urinary tract. You’ll need a vet to diagnose a UTI and to prescribe antibiotic treatment if the test comes back positive.
My dog’s breath smells
Although we talk about ‘dog’s breath’ bad breath is actually not normal in dogs. It can indicate a problem either with the dog’s teeth, or with his digestive system.
Have a look in your Labrador’s mouth. Are his teeth clean and free from cavities? If you are not sure, get your vet to check this out. Dogs should have clean, white, teeth. If his teeth are dirty, you need to do something about it.
If you are feeding your dog on kibble, you may need to clean his teeth for him each day. Check out our article on dental hygiene for dogs.
My dog has bad gas
Some dogs have a really bad gas problem. So much so, that at times, it is unpleasant to be in the same room as the dog.
Most dogs get gas occasionally, but constant gas is not normal in a healthy dog. The problem can be caused by problems with the dog’s diet, or by digestive troubles.
If you know that your dog has an appropriate and balanced diet (you can use that link to check), then a trip to the vet to make sure he is well, is a good idea.
Labrador smells and health checks
Other than the natural doggy body odor we talked about at the beginning of this article, your dog should not stink, and his breath and ears should not smell foul.
Being unwell can sometimes cause body odors
If your dog still smells unpleasant, it’s time to see your vet and make sure he is in good health.
How to get rid of dog smell from your home – #1 grooming
Once you have dealt with any medical issues that are causing your dog to smell, it’s time to tackle the basic causes of Labrador body odor.
The first cause is dead hair. The hair that Labradors shed in small quantities all year around, and in large quantities whilst moulting is a key source of odor. Both on the dog, and in your home because shed dog hair is surprisingly smelly.
Daily grooming is a great way to help minimise this problem. Unless the weather is terrible, you’ll want to do this outside as it generates a lot of ‘floating’ hair around the dog.
Using a de-shedding tool on your Lab when he is shedding will help to reduce the smell.
Check out our article on shedding for tools and tips. You need to be careful with these tools as they can damage your dog’s coat if used too enthusiastically
Once you have removed the dead hair, a good quality dog shampoo will help get your dog smelling sweet again
How to get rid of dog smell from your home – #2 vacuuming
The next step is to vacuum your home very frequently to get rid of any hair that you miss during your daily grooming sessions.
Check out this article to find out how I tackle this problem in my home, which I share with three dogs and a cat.
How to get rid of dog smell from your home – #3 air fresheners and filters
Once the hair problem is under control you should see a big improvement in general Labrador body odor.
If you are still unhappy then you can try out a doggy deoderant that you spray on your dog’s fur (though arguably your dog won’t approve).
Less offensive to your dog are natural charcoal air purifying bags. You simply place these in the room and they help to absorb unpleasant smells
And a final option, is an electric air filter. I own one – not for dog smells but because it helps to reduce dust and I have a dust mite allergy. But it leaves a room smelling very clean too.
How to get rid of dog smell from your home – a summary
Whilst you can treat anal gland problems, or other health problems that cause doggy odor, if you keep any breed of gun dog, you might not ever completely eradicate the doggy smell from your home.
But you can make a big difference
Regular vacuuming and hair removal, together with daily grooming will go a long way. Air fresheners and filters will go a bit further
There is no need to put up with a really stinky dog, and an occasional bath when he gets really smelly, together with daily attention to clearing up hair, will help your home from smelling like a kennels.
And if you cannot get your dog smelling sweet with regular grooming, occasional bathing, and dental hygiene, it is time to contact your vet for a thorough health check
Don’t forget to add your favorite tips for a sweet smelling Lab. Drop them into the comments box below!
More information on Labradors
For a complete guide to raising a healthy and happy Labrador don’t miss The Labrador Handbook
It covers every aspect of caring for your Lab from puppyhood to old age. We think you’ll love it!