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Gross Dog Problems and How to Deal With Them

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

There’s no way to sugar coat it. Dogs can be just plain gross. They put just about anything in their mouths and let’s just say they don’t always smell like roses. Sounds kind of like living with a toddler, doesn’t it?

When you’re dealing with your dog’s most unpleasant behaviors, it’s important to remember they are animals with natural instincts. What might seem like bad behavior has a perfectly reasonable explanation. Even the most well behaved dogs still make messes and stink up the house.

But, despite all the times your dog has driven you crazy with nasty behaviors, you love him anyway. Here are the five most common unpleasant dog problems and what you can do to avoid them.

Bad Habit #1: Eating unsanitary things

Poop, diapers, trash, cat litter, toilet water, vomit. The things your pup puts in his mouth are truly horrifying, but not surprising.

Why do dogs put the most inedible things in their mouths when they have an appetizing bowl of food waiting in the kitchen? Simply put, they do it because they can. It’s all about seizing the moment. Your dog might be curious, or bored, or reacting to carnal instincts that tell him to eat whatever seems digestible in order to stay alive.

Dogs are especially notorious for eating their own feces. Contrary to what seems obvious, this behavior won’t always make your dog sick. An upset tummy will probably be the worst of it unless the fecal matter contains dangerous bacteria or parasites.

If your dog predictably drinks out of the toilet every day, it’s time to be more vigilant about putting the seat down. If your dog is tricky enough to get into the toilet with the seat down, consider dog-proofing with a toilet lock.

If your dog is a poop eater, increase the number of times you scoop in the backyard. Removing the opportunity is always the best way to stop a behavior. If your dog has an accident or makes a mess indoors, use a cleaner like Oxy Shot right away so your pet doesn’t try to hide the evidence himself.

Lastly, if your dog likes to snoop around in the trash, opt for heavier metal trash cans with lids that aren’t easy to open. All of these precautions will minimize the spread of germs and messes.

Bad Habit #2: Licking Themselves

Being a pet owner can be embarrassing–especially when company is over. It’s always a little awkward when your dog sits in the middle of the room and starts his hygiene routine on his privates; however, it’s perfectly normal behavior.

A dog’s tongue is essentially his toilet paper. If your dog is picking an inopportune moment to casually lick himself, simply redirect his attention or take him into another room.

You may have also noticed your dog licking a wound or area of discomfort. Don’t worry, licking an open wound won’t cause infection, but could be a sign of a more serious problem. Similar to a person holding or putting a hand on a painful area, dogs lick their wounds for comfort.

On the flip side, dogs may also show interest in licking your wounds. Your dog loves you and can see you’re in pain, so as a member of his pack, he will try to take care of you. Sure, dog saliva has some antibacterial properties, but licking usually hurts more than it helps. Cover wounds if needed to keep your dog away.

Problem #3: Sniffing Other Dogs

Your dog has a sensory superpower that shouldn’t be viewed as a problem. The reason dogs engage in this odd behavior is actually fascinating.

Dogs can get a sense of whether or not they’ll get along with another dog by the way they smell. Imagine if people were the same way! That would save a lot of time and some heartbreak. This is essentially what a dog is doing when he sniffs a furry passerby.

When dogs sniff each other they are picking up chemical compounds that tell them everything they need to know about their new acquaintance. These compounds communicate what that dog likes to eat, what mood he’s in, if he’s healthy, and if “he” is actually a “she.” The more intimate the sniff, the more information your dog will discover.

This sniffing superpower is actually so effective that a dog who is separated from his family for months, or even years, can get up to speed on what the other has been up to with a sniffing party.

Unless the owner of the dog who is being sniffed is bothered by this behavior, it’s harmless. As long as you’re respectful of other owners’ wishes, there is nothing about sniffing you should try to prevent.

Problem #4: Rolling in Stinky Stuff

It’s easy to forget that dogs have carnal instincts when they spend their days waiting for belly scratches, but they do. Many animals will roll around in feces or dead animals to camouflage their own scent in order to sneak up on prey.

Of course, this is a totally useless tactic for your dog who is fed routinely in his decorative food bowl. However, dogs are born with many instincts that lead them to do strange things. Rolling in yucky stuff is also a way to signal to other dogs that they’ve found something interesting that’s worth checking out. Your dogs are thinking, “Dead bird? I’m in!”

While this behavior is technically normal, you don’t want an animal who smells like poop wandering the halls of your house. Discourage your dog from these behaviors by spraying water at them to signal it’s a no-no. If your dog is notorious for rolling in foul-smelling things, keep him at your side when you go on a walk. Prevention is usually the best method.

If your dog does have a heyday with something yucky, the only next step is a thorough bath. Use a trusted shampoo product, such as pawTree’s 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner to get the stench out while promoting a shiny coat and nourished skin.

Problem #5: Smelly Gas and Breath

Does your dog know how to clear a room? Dog flatulence can be truly awful. That, combined with a case of intense dog breath, is enough to keep your pup in the backyard for life.

Bad gas is often a sign of a diet that isn’t being digested well. Foods that often cause gassy dogs are milk products, fat, and beans. If your dog’s gas is bothersome, it’s worth taking a look at the ingredients in your dog food and finding an alternative.

On top of puppy gas, pet owners also have bad breath to deal with. Already, normal dog breath isn’t necessarily pleasant, so it can be tough to tell if your dog has regular bad breath or really bad breath. Really bad breath can be the result of tooth decay, plaque and infection.

Consistently keep your dog’s mouth clean and you shouldn’t have this problem. Sure, you can brush your dog’s teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste, but there’s an easier, less messy way. Try a no-mess solution like Dental Sticks for a low-maintenance, effective approach.

For every Instagram-worthy thing your dog does there is something equally cringeworthy. When your dog’s gross behaviors are driving you nuts, try to remember that most of them simply come with the territory of being a dog. Have a clean-up, distraction, or prevention plan at the ready and you won’t have to deal with too many unsettling surprises.


Dr. Diaz’s nurturing nature led her into medicine where she became a Board Certified Anesthesiologist. While she loved her career and her patients, she also wanted to be a stay-at-home mother. After retiring from her practice and achieving her goal of being a home-based parent, Kristi began looking for ways to give back to her community. At the same time, she and her husband were looking for home-based business opportunities.

Kristi knew she found the perfect opportunity when she discovered pawTree. The value Kristi placed on diet and nutrition for health and wellness, coupled with her family’s love of animals, aligned seamlessly with pawTree’s company values.

Dr. Diaz’s philosophy is that diet, genetics, and luck all work together to create the quality of a pet's life. While owners can’t control their pets’ genetics or luck, they can control their diet. Pets have no choice but to count on their owners their entire lives for great nutrition. Feeding dogs and cats high-quality food and supplements will give them the best chance to live healthy, vibrant lives.

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