When you think of things you love about your dog, it’s probably the companionship, the playtimes, the snuggles, and those loving eyes. Wet dog smell, not so much. 

Normally, your dog probably smells a little musky- a not-unpleasant smell that you probably associate with cuddle sessions. That same dog, after a romp in a pond or even after a bath is going to smell different. Stinky, pungent, funky, and peeee-yew. The reason why a wet dog smells so horrible is a simple, and kinda gross chemical reaction. 

We’re all talking about our biome, whether it’s in our gut or on our skin. Like us, a dog is covered in microorganisms, such as yeast and bacteria. There can be up to 16,500 bacteria per square centimeter of dog. That sounds unhealthy, but it’s normal. They live on the skin and produce waste and excrement that is not smelly when a dog is dry. But when your dog gets wet, water breaks down the micro-poop and releases the molecules from the skin to the surface of their fur.  As the water begins to evaporate off your dog’s coat, so do these molecules thus emitting a wet dog smell. So that smell is the poops of bacteria. 

You can never eliminate microbes from our dog’s skin — and you shouldn’t. That bastion of bacteria helps keep the skin healthy. ​​

Other things that can intensify the stink are the quantity of drool and slobber, how much time they spend outside, what they like to roll in, how often they’re bathed, folds of skin (have you ever smelled a Shar-pei?), allergies, dermatitis, or yeast infections. Even diet can change the smell of a wet dog.

Dog shaking water, detail of a wet animal, enjoying and having fun

Regularly brushing your dog and keeping his fur trimmed helps speed drying time and prevent odor and dirt from becoming trapped. Whether it’s an intentional soaking (a bath) or impromptu (a romp in a pond), the less time they are wet, the less stink you’ll have to endure. Invest in a heavy-duty dog towel to dry them faster, or even a blow dryer. If they come in the house wet, try to dry them off before they have a chance to rub on the couch or roll on the carpet. If they transfer the stink to your furniture, bedding, or rugs baking soda can help neutralize the odors. 

Regular baths can go a long way in keeping your dog smelling fresher. Generally, a bath every two weeks is best. If you have a large, or heavily coated breed, once a month might be more realistic. 

Keep your dog’s belongings clean, too. Collars and harnesses often retain smells and should be washed regularly. Regularly clean your dog’s other belongings, including their bed and toys. 

Duckie is a 10-month-old German Shepherd, Aussie, Bernedoodle Mix. He is very sweet and loves to play with his toys. He has a lot of energy so he would do best in an active home.

For thirty years, the Animal Resource Center and Shops of Second Chance Humane Society have been serving Ouray, San Miguel, and Montrose Counties. Our adoption hours are from Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. You can view our shelter pets and services online at www.secondchancehumane.org. Connecting Pets, People, and Community While Saving Lives.