How to Clean Smelly Dogs Without Water

With his rubber ducky beside him, all that's missing from your pup's normal bath is the water.
Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Maybe there's not enough time in your busy day to hose down your pup with water, or maybe his fear of water goes beyond that of a cat's. Whatever the case, taking the nasty smell that seems glued to him out to the trash doesn't always require H2O. Waterless shampoo, whether in powder, foam or even waterless liquid form, will have your pup looking fresh and smelling nice.

Step 1

Brush your pup's fur to remove any tiny sticks, patches of hardened mud and anything else his furry butt has collected. If you find mats, try to gently brush them out. If the clumps of hair refuse to cooperate, pinch tiny sections at a time between your fingers and run your brush over those instead of the entire clump. Do not attempt to cut them out, unless you're experienced in doing so.

Step 2

Apply the waterless shampoo to your pup's coat. Start at top of his head and work your way down to his tail. You can apply the foam or liquid shampoo by spraying it directly onto his coat, or spraying it into your hands first. If you're using a powdered shampoo, separate your pup's fur slightly by going against the grain of his hair with your hand or a brush, and then shake the powder onto his coat. If you want to bathe his face, apply the shampoo to your hands or a rag first, and use only a small amount. Unless his face is soiled, you can usually just use a damp rag to wipe it down.

Step 3

Work in the shampoo with your hands or a finger brush. If your pup wasn't a fan of having the shampoo applied to his fur, he'll definitely be more compliant with the massage action. Pretend like you're using regular shampoo and rub it into the coat thoroughly. Some liquid shampoos direct you to rub in the liquid until it starts to foam, so check the back of the bottle before you begin.

Step 4

Whip out your regular grooming brush and go with the grain of your pup's fur. At this point, you're removing all the excess shampoo that's left. A 5- to 10-minute brushing should suffice. Use your hand or a rag on your pup's face if you applied any shampoo in that area. Your little guy may tolerate metal pins and teeth on his backside, but he probably won't be a fan of them poking him in the face.

Step 5

Use a towel to remove any remaining residue. A dry towel will work fine, but a damp towel will likely give you more bang for your buck. After you give your pup a few rubdowns, his coat should look good as new and his putrid smell will be a thing of the past.


  • Never apply the shampoo near your pup's eyes or ears. If your little guy's ears are dirty, use a special canine ear-cleaning solution found in most pet stores.

  • If your pup appears to have an allergic reaction to the shampoo, stop using it and talk with your vet.


  • Although waterless shampoo won't have your floors soaking wet, they can leave you with quite a mess to clean up, especially if you use a powdered variety. Lay a few towels down before you begin, or move the bathing operation outside.

  • If your pup's smell is courtesy of a dead animal or something equally as rancid, you may have to bathe him with the waterless shampoo twice. Let your nose be the judge.

Items You Will Need

  • Dog brush
  • Finger brush
  • Waterless shampoo
  • Towel or rag