Your pet’s naturally occurring body oils, bacteria and yeast on the skin or in skin folds, and dirt from playing outdoors can cause doggie odors, which also transfer to surfaces such as bedding and carpet. Bathing is your first line of defense against stinkiness.
“A bath also is a great time to give your dog a general once-over, including looking inside the ears and making sure there are no bumps or parasites, such as fleas and ticks,” Lorraine Rhoads, environmental biologist with Dogtopia, told The Spruce Pets.
In most cases, your dog shouldn’t need additional deodorizing, and offensive pet odors may even be the first indication of a health problem in your pet. But a deodorizer can come in handy for those occasions when your dog could use a little freshening up between bath times.
Best Deodorizing Foam
Arm & Hammer Ultra Fresh No Rinse Deodorizing Foam for Dogs
Easy to rub in to your dog’s fur
Baking soda absorbs scent, instead of just covering
Foam only available in 8-ounce size
Only one scent available
Arm & Hammer’s Ultra Fresh No Rinse Deodorizing Foam is a suitable stand-in for a bath, at least temporarily. Its foam formula is easy to rub into even long-haired dog coats. The baking soda ensures that this deodorizer does more than just cover up scents, actively absorbing smell-bearing oils. The formula is mild and pH-balanced to avoid skin irritation.
The only real downsides are the limited options. Arm & Hammer’s deodorizing foam is only available in an 8-ounce spray bottle. And while we like the subtle juniper mist scent, a little variety—or even an unscented version—would also be welcome.
Price at time of publish: $7
Vetnique Labs Glandex Dog Wipes
Can be used anywhere on paws, ears, face and backside
Includes aloe, Vitamin E, and moisturizers to nurture skin
Enzymatic deodorizer eliminates smells
Recent redesign made wipes somewhat smaller than previous packaging
Dogs get into a lot of messes, and sometimes you don’t have time to bathe them. While wipes don’t do a great job of getting your dog squeaky-clean (he or she still needs a full bath occasionally), it may help extend the time between baths. Plus, wipes can be helpful for removing salt from dog toes in winter or pollen from his or her coat if your dog has seasonal allergies.
Vetnique Glandex Cleansing Wipes are designed specifically for dog and cat butts. By wiping down rumps and anal glands, you can help stave off itchiness and other discomforts that cause your pet to engage in “butt-scooting” behavior.
Price at time of publish: $14
Quantity: 75-count canister or 100-count pouch
Bodhi Dog Natural Pet Cologne
Available in 11 different scents
Safe for puppies, cats, and rabbits
Good for detangling fur
Ingredients aren’t disclosed online
With a wild array of 11 different scents available—including patchouli, baby powder, lilac, orange sherbert, sugar cookie, lavender, and more—there’s a Bodhi Dog Natural Pet Cologne out there for you. Available in three different sizes, ranging from a travel-friendly 4-ounce spritz bottle to a 17-ounce spray bottle, this versatile deodorizing spray also conditions hair, making it an excellent brushing accompaniment. It’s also a mild formula that’s safe for a wide range of pets, including cats, puppies, and small animals like rabbits.
Price at time of publish: $14
Scents: Baby powder, sugar cookie, lilac, orange sherbert, winter wonderland, patchouli, pumpkin spice, lavender calming, fresh & clean, holiday cider | Sizes: 4-, 8-, and 17-ounce spray bottles (not all scents available in every size)
Best Indoor Odor Remover
Biokleen Bac-Out Stain + Odor Remover
Ready-to-use formula doesn’t have to be diluted
Citrus extracts for light scent
Multi-purpose cleaner for more than pet messes
No fragrance-free option if you’re sensitive to scents
This bio-active formula works not only on pet odors, but also on wine spills, cloth diapers, and other smelly substances. This plant-based cleaner is Green Seal certified and doesn’t contain any artificial fragrance or colors. It’s a pet parent favorite for both urine and vomit stains, and it works equally well to deodorize other smelly items in your home, such as sweaty gym clothes.
Price at time of publish: $13
Sizes: 32- and 128-ounce spray bottles
Best Outdoor Deodorizer
Simple Green Outdoor Dog and Cat
Can be used on all types of surfaces
Built-in hose attachment for easy application
Hose applicator makes it tricky to spot clean
It’s a fact of life, but sometimes your outdoor spaces don’t smell so great if it’s super-hot or if you have multiple dogs. This enzymatic spray helps absorb and suppress the smell of urine and solid dog waste. It’s particularly useful in highly trafficked areas, such as dog runs and dog parks. Its combination of beneficial bacteria and enzymes makes it safe for use around your pets.
Price at time of publish: $14
Sizes: 32- and 128-ounce containers
Best for Skunk Odor
Nature’s Miracle Skunk Odor Control Shampoo & Conditioner
Can also be used on carpet, clothing and other surfaces contaminated with skunk odor
Available in pour or squeeze bottles
Larger dogs may require more than a full bottle to saturate coat thoroughly
Only available in one size
Your dog got too curious, and now you’re dealing with the eye-watering stench of skunk. We’ve looked into making our own skunk-busting cleanser before (hint: it does not include tomato juice, which doesn’t work), but the easiest solution is Nature’s Miracle Skunk Odor Control Shampoo & Conditioner. Massage this shampoo into their fur, let it sit for five minutes, then rinse. Numerous buyers report it working effectively against skunk sprays. Plus, the Nature’s Miracle formula comes in three scents. You can also buy it in either a pour or a squeeze bottle.
Price at time of publish: $28
Sizes: 32-ounce squeeze bottle, 32-ounce pour bottle | Scents: Lavender, citrus, original
If your dog could use a little cleaning after a messy day at the dog park, but isn’t quite right for a full bath, then we recommend Arm & Hammer Ultra Fresh No Rinse Deodorizing Foam. It’s got a mild formula, is only lightly scented, and does a good job at absorbing odors.
What to Look for
If you’re cleaning up after messy outdoor play, and regularly bathing your dog, then it shouldn’t smell too bad. So while deodorizers can be used to absorb or cover smells from your dog’s coat, it’s crucial to discern the source of bad odors.
“Healthy dogs do not have an unpleasant odor,” Lorraine Rhoads, environmental biologist with Dogtopia, told The Spruce Pets. “A dog who smells bad may have an underlying health concern, such as a dental problem or ear infection, which should be checked out by a vet. You don’t want to simply use a deodorizing product that masks odor but doesn’t address the source, especially a hidden health condition.”
Enzymatic cleaners target the biological components in pet-related odors, using chemical reaction-inducing proteins called enzymes. But the most effective enzymatic cleaners will also be “bio-active” or contain “live culture,” two terms worth looking for when considering an odor-eliminating product.
“Some cleaners contain enzymes, but you actually need a ‘live culture,’ which is a bacteria population that continues to populate and create enzymes that attach themselves to the odor-causing molecules, breaking them down until they become inert,” Rhoads told The Spruce Pets.
How do you deodorize a dog bed?
First of all, a stinky dog transfers smells to his or her bedding, so make sure you’re bathing your dog regularly. In general, wash your pet about once a month, though frequency depends on the breed, outdoor activity levels, type of coat, and any underlying health issues, such as environmental allergies (when more frequent bathing may help relieve symptoms, for example).
Next, bedding should be washed weekly in hot water with any detergent you prefer. Tumble dry on the hot setting to kill germs and potential parasites, such as fleas. To extend time between washings of a large bed, top your dog’s bed with a fresh blanket every week, which is much easier to toss in the laundry than a full-sized bed, recommends Rhoads.
Why Trust The Spruce?
We consulted an environmental biologist to learn what ingredients were most effective for eliminating—not just covering up—dog odors. Writer Arricca SanSone shares her home with two sweet-smelling papillons, who receive weekly baths and almost never require their mom to use bio-enzymatic cleaners (although she keeps a bottle of Urine Off handy).