Will Pet Odors Take Over Your Home? How to Keep Things Fresh if You Get a Dog


Bringing home a dog is an exciting time for any pet owner. The pitter-patter of paws and the enthusiastic greetings make it all worthwhile. However, dogs come with responsibilities – including keeping your home from smelling like a kennel. While it’s normal for a home with dogs to have some odor, there are many ways to manage this. With smart practices, you can drastically reduce smells and keep your house fresh.

The key is being proactive. Putting in some work upfront will prevent issues down the road. This involves everything from choosing the right food and breed to training properly. Thankfully, small adjustments to your home, habits and pet care can make a big difference. With the right information, you can confidently bring home a dog without dreading the impact on your home’s scent.

Dogs and Odors

Dogs can make homes smell for a few key reasons:

dog with oily fur rubbing on furniture

First, dogs have a lot of fur that can trap odors and make them difficult to remove. Shed fur gets stuck on furniture and carpets and brings the doggy odor with it (source).

Additionally, dogs release natural oils from their skin that can create a characteristic doggy smell, especially when mixed with moisture or dirt. This oil sticks to surfaces around the home.

Dogs also have anal glands that can release a very strong, unpleasant odor at times. This is spread when dogs wag their tails or rub against objects (source).

Finally, accidents in the home from urination and defecation can leave behind odors in carpets, floors, and furniture. Dog waste contains compounds that produce persistent, difficult smells.

In summary, fur, oils, anal glands, and waste all contribute to potential dog odors around a home.

Sources of Dog Odors

There are several main sources that contribute to dog odors in the home:

Dog urine and feces – Dogs will need to urinate and defecate regularly inside the home if they are not properly house trained or let outdoors frequently enough. The smell can linger in carpets, floors, and furniture (Family Handyman).

Dog breath and saliva – Dog saliva contains bacteria and compounds that produce odors, especially if dental hygiene is poor. The smell gets transferred around the house as they lick and pant (Wag Walking).

Skin, ears, and paws – Infections, fungus, and excess moisture between skin folds or in ears and paws can lead to powerful odors. These scents spread through shedding hair and secretions (Homemade Simple).

Gas – Flatulence from dogs can be quite smelly due to their diets and trouble digesting certain foods. The gas gets released inside the home (Wag Walking).

Bedding and toys – These fabric items absorb odors readily when exposed to dog fluids, skin oils, and breath. The smell lingers strongly even after washing.

Managing Dog Odors

While some odor from dogs is expected and normal, there are many preventative measures you can take to keep odors to a minimum. Regular bathing, brushing, and wiping down your dog is key to controlling body oils and dirt that lead to odors. Bathe your dog every month using a quality dog shampoo and brush regularly with a vet-approved dog brush. You should also spot clean your dog between baths by wiping down feet, face wrinkles, under eyes, behind ears, belly, and other areas where dirt accumulates.

woman bathing dog to reduce odors

Vacuuming and mopping floors regularly prevents odors from becoming embedded in flooring materials. Use an enzymatic cleaner designed for pets as needed on carpets, floors, dog beds and furniture to remove organic compounds that cause odor. Maintain a lint roller near pet areas to remove loose fur and brush dogs outdoors when shedding. Change air filters monthly in central air and heating systems to catch dander. Consider investing in an air purifier with a HEPA filter to further purify the air of pet dander and odors.

Clean food and water bowls daily with soap and hot water to prevent bacteria growth. Scoop litter boxes twice daily and change the litter regularly. Maintain proper outdoor disposal areas by clearing stool remains and repositioning pee rocks. Keep dog areas tidy by laundering bedding weekly and storing toys properly between play sessions. With diligent cleaning habits, you can successfully manage odors that come with dog ownership.

Feeding Considerations

What you feed your dog can have a significant impact on their odor. Certain ingredients and foods are more prone to causing strong odors.

premium low odor dog food

Diets high in fat and protein can increase body odor, gas, and fecal odor. Meat-based protein sources like beef, chicken, lamb, and fish tend to cause more odor than plant-based proteins like peas or potatoes [1]. Some dog foods made with fresh, whole meats have extra odor from the oils and amino acids that dry food processing eliminates.

Poor quality ingredients, artificial additives, and fillers like corn can also lead to digestive issues that increase flatulence and fecal odor. Look for high-quality dog foods made with digestible carbohydrates like brown rice and limited ingredients to reduce waste odors.

Consider switching to a partially or entirely plant-based dog food made with pea, potato, or legume proteins. The limited animal proteins tend to be less odorous. Just ensure the food meets your dog’s nutritional needs [2].

Ingredients like yucca schidigera, zinc gluconate, and chlorophyll may also help neutralize odors. Some premium dog foods include these to help control waste odors.

Choosing Dog Breeds

Some dog breeds are more prone to producing odors than others due to a variety of factors like skin oils, diet, activity level, and coat type. When choosing a dog breed, consider their natural tendency towards odor:

Small breeds like Chihuahuas, Yorkies, and Maltese have less surface area and produce comparatively less odor. Their small size means they also produce smaller waste quantities. However, they can still develop odors from tear staining, skin allergies, poor diet, and lack of grooming.

Some larger breeds like Greyhounds, Poodles, and Siberian Huskies are less prone to doggy odor if properly cared for. Non-shedding Poodle coats tend to trap less odors. Greyhounds and Whippets have short coats producing little oil.

Coated breeds like Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, and Old English Sheepdogs require extensive grooming to minimize odor. Drop-coated breeds like Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels tend to have oilier skin and coats.

Herding and sporting breeds like Collies, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds can develop odors without sufficient activity and exercise. Odor-causing bacteria thrives more when dogs are inactive.

Brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs, Boxers, and Pugs can snort, drool, and flatulate more due to their short snouts and digestive issues. Skin fold infections are also common.

No matter the breed, proper nutrition, activity, grooming, and preventative care reduces odors. Research breed characteristics, but remember any dog’s odor depends largely on your lifestyle and care.

Training Recommendations

Proper housetraining is essential for teaching your dog acceptable bathroom habits and reducing indoor accidents. The two main methods are crate training and using a designated potty spot outside. Crate training involves confined your dog to a crate when you can’t directly supervise them. The confinement helps them learn to hold their bladder and bowels. Be sure to take puppies under 12 weeks old out at least every 2 hours and adult dogs every 4-6 hours. Using a consistent potty spot outside is also important. Take your dog to the same spot in the yard whenever you take them out to relieve themselves. Reward them with praise and treats when they go in the designated area. This helps reinforce where they should and shouldn’t go. For more housetraining tips, check out the Humane Society and AKC guides.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Getting a dog can require several lifestyle adjustments to ensure the dog’s health and happiness. One of the most important aspects is providing enough exercise, socialization, and enrichment activities.

Dogs need regular exercise to prevent obesity, relieve boredom and pent up energy, and maintain joint health. The amount of exercise depends on age, breed, and health status, but guidelines recommend at least 30-60 minutes of activity per day. This can involve walks, playing fetch, going to a dog park, or other physically engaging activities. Seek advice from your veterinarian on appropriate exercise levels for your individual dog.

woman playing fetch with dog for exercise

Socialization and exposure to new environments, people, and other animals is also crucial for a dog’s development and mental wellbeing. This teaches dogs proper social skills and prevents fearfulness or aggression later in life. Arrange regular controlled interactions with friends, family members, other pets if possible, and bring your dog to busy parks or stores to get them accustomed to sights and sounds.

Lastly, enrichment activities like puzzles, Kongs, nosework games, and chew toys provide mental stimulation when physical activity is limited. Rotate different enrichment items to prevent boredom. Engaging a dog’s mind is just as important as physical activity. Refer to this source for more enrichment ideas.

With proper exercise, socialization, and enrichment, dog owners can avoid many problem behaviors and keep their pets happy and healthy.

When to Seek Help

Sometimes dogs can develop behavior problems that require professional assistance. Here are some signs that it may be time to seek help from an animal behaviorist or certified dog trainer:

Aggression issues like growling, snapping, or biting when around food, toys, or people. This indicates a lack of bite inhibition and can be dangerous (Source).

Separation anxiety behaviors like excessive barking, whining, pacing, destructive chewing, urinating, or defecating when left alone (Source). This indicates an unhealthy attachment.

A sudden change in typical behavior patterns like increased fear, withdrawnness, irritability, or listlessness (Source). This may signify an underlying medical issue.

Difficulty learning basic obedience cues or house training. A professional trainer can provide effective behavior modification techniques (Source).


Bringing a dog into your home will undoubtedly introduce new smells. However, with proper dog care and cleaning habits, these odors can be minimized. Feeding your dog a high-quality diet, regularly bathing and grooming them, and routinely cleaning areas where they spend time are all effective ways to keep your house smelling fresh.

Certain breeds like Retrievers and Poodles naturally have less doggy odor than others. But any dog can benefit from increased training and exercise to prevent accidents inside. Consider odor control products and be vigilant about cleaning messes immediately. With patience and proper prevention strategies, there’s no reason owning a dog has to make your house smell bad.

The keys are being proactive, establishing a schedule for cleaning, bathing and grooming, and making adjustments based on your dog’s needs. If odors persist despite your best efforts, consult your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical issues. Follow these best practices, and you and your dog can enjoy a fresh-smelling home.

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