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How to get rid of dog smell in your house
We all wish we could have 7 dogs and 8 cats, right? Or is that just me? I really would love to have a home full of animals, but I also need a home that is livable for humans, and welcoming for guests, even non-animal lovers. Preventing or getting rid of dog smell is important for humans to feel comfortable in a home.
I take pride in knowing that despite having cat and a dog, my house doesn’t smell like dog. People actually compliment me on it. Here are my tips for keeping a clean, fresh home, even with multiple pets, or getting rid of dog smell if it’s already there:
A lot of people assume bathing your dog will get rid of dog smell. Their smell doesn’t come from their skin! And if you bath your dog too often, their skin will be stripped of its natural oils, causing dry, flaky, itchy skin. I only bathe my dog if she’s run around in the mud or been swimming in a stinky lake.
I have a pretty good routine in place for keeping my home fresh. This includes daily, weekly, monthly, yearly cleaning lists, and regular grooming for my pets. I recently had an experience, however, that made my house smell like dog and pee. I dog sit Bently, a big baby whose mom is a nurse so she works 12 hour shifts. He comes to me 3 days a week. And boy does Bently smell like dog. He’s clean and potty trained, but there are things you don’t even realize will make your house smell.
I had gone “nose blind” to my house smell. It wasn’t until I went to dinner at a neighbors and adapted to the smell of their home, that I returned and could experience what my house smelled like. It smelled like pee!
There were a few contributing factors: I have a 3 year old human who sometimes wets the bed. This particular week I had thrown her wet pajamas in the wash and didn’t start it. That made the whole house smell. Bently was the other factor. A problem arose this week because he developed a urinary tract infection. Every time he laid down, he leaked a little. This means every time he laid on my rug, carpet, couch, throw blanket, and bed, a little pee was being absorbed and making my house smell like pee. Here’s what I did to get rid of the pee smell, and overall dog smell:
How to Prevent dog smell
1. Potty Training
This is a given. If you don’t want your house to smell like pee, don’t let your dog pee in your house. See my potty training post for a step by step guide on potty training puppies or adults. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t involve puppy potty pads. Read more about why here. Bently was recently adopted from the shelter, and had peed on my couch a few times. Easy fix: It came down to focusing on letting him outside as soon as he got to my house early in the morning and I made sure to clean up properly. I use Vinegar, Nature’s Miracle, or this homemade carpet cleaner. I have recently discovered Nature’s Miracle Urine Destroyer, and it is an absolute game changer for pee accidents. I do a review of it on my instagram, under potty training highlights.
2. Keep Their Breath Fresh
Most of that “dog smell” comes from dogs’ breath. Dogs naturally keep their teeth clean by chewing. See this post on what to give your dog to chew on. (It’s not bones!) Your dog will still probably need a little bit of extra care to keep their breath fresh. Weekly brushing-if you start young and your dog will tolerate it-is best. You can also purchase toothpaste gels that you just squeeze onto their teeth. Our vet also recommended this water addative when Izzy had fractured teeth but couldn’t get a dental cleaning at the time. Most vets recommend yearly dental cleanings. Your dog has to be anaesthetized, so these can be pricey, especially if teeth have to be removed due to fracture or rot. Do your best to keep your dog’s teeth healthy with brushing and chewing to keep dental cleaning costs down. I also recently learned from a veterinarian that simply wiping the residue off your dog’s teeth with a rag every day makes a huge difference in how healthy their teeth stay.
If your dog’s breath creates “dog smell,” then the more your dog is breathing, the more your house is being permeated with that smell. I noticed this from Bently. Bently gets very anxious in his crate and when left home alone. We’ve been working on reducing this anxiety by leaving him out of his crate for short periods of time with Izzy to keep him company. Properly training your dog to be in a crate or home alone, and reducing anxiety triggers will reduce how much they pant, thus reducing dog breath smell.
3. Don’t Leave Dog Food Out
If your house smells like dog, it may just smell like dog food. It’s important for a number of reasons to feed your dog regular meals, rather than leaving their food out all day and letting them graze. Dogs’ digestive systems are designed for few large meals a day, not small meals throughout the day. Grazing can lead to weight gain. I also believe controlling your dog’s food is an important factor in establishing a hierarchy. If you control when your dog eats, they rely on you for their most basic need. They should earn their food by being polite when it is given. These manners will trickle into every aspect of their life and your relationship.
How to get rid of dog smell
1. Laundry Laundry Laundry
Between my two toddlers spilling everything they put in their hands, Bently dragging water away from the bowl every time he got a drink, human potty accidents, (the list goes on) I was already doing my fair share of laundry. To deep clean and really get that smell out, I added a few loads to my list: Bently’s crate mat, a couch cushion he had sat on (Thank you, Lovesac removable couch cushion covers), throw blankets, and a door mat. My washer has a “sanitize” setting I use whenever I’m dealing with bodily fluids, and that gets the smell out really well. I also make sure to always throw in some fabric softener and I use this stain remover for spot stains.
Since my dog and cat sleep on my bed, I regularly wash my duvet cover, and even though we don’t let them on the sheet (just so it doesn’t get too covered in hair) I regularly wash my sheet and pillowcases as well. I also regularly wash all throw blankets and dog bed covers. When purchasing dog beds, I ALWAYS make sure they have removable covers.
This is what my laundry room usually looks like. I feel like I do 7 loads a day!
2. Clean Those Floors!
Two words: ROBOT VACCUUM. We have this one upstairs and this one downstairs. They are scheduled to run every day, but sometimes they get clogged with a toy and don’t make it very far. So we do deep clean runs about every week. We make sure nothing is on the floor and run it until it gets full or dies. Then we run it again. And again. We are always SHOCKED at how much hair our floors have. I’m no allergist but people with allergies tell me the dander is what causes the reaction, so there is probably a smell associated with pet fur and dander.
Our downstairs is Luxury Vinyl Plank (A lifesaver with pets and kids) but we have a few rugs, and upstairs is all carpet. I rented a carpet cleaner to make sure all of Bently’s leaks were cleaned out of the carpet.
I’m embarrassed to show this, but this is just the dirty water from my upstairs hallway.
My carpet is white by the way. White. Who in their right mind has white carpet? Replacing that is definitely on our home project list. The carpet didn’t look this dirty, but man was it ever!
My next big purchase will be my own carpet cleaner. I borrowed one from my sister at one point, and it worked MAGIC. Way better than the rentals. Here’s my homemade carpet cleaner, stain and odor remover. It has been AMAZING at removing set in dog poop stains.
For the vinyl floors I always clean with vinegar and hot water. Vinegar is great at breaking up dirt and grease, and also neutralizes urine smell.
We can have beautiful, clean homes, and still enjoy life with our pets. Whether you’re trying to prevent your home from smelling like dog, or need to deep clean to get rid of dog smell, I hope these tips help you enjoy life with your fur babies even more.
We struggled for a bit to find the right trash can solution for our dog getting into the trash. One that would fit under the sink was too small, we put it in the pantry for a bit but it was a pain to always keep the door shut. Eventually a doggy friend taught my dog how to slide past the pantry slider doors anyway. So we got a trash can with an automatic lid. A normal lid is easy for your dog to push open. But on this trash can, the lid sits flush with the outer edge, so there’s no way your dog can open it.