Stinky When Wet: Dealing with Wet Dog Smell

It’s a phenomenon with which all dog owners are familiar: wet dog smell. After a walk through the rain, a romp through the snow, or a paddle up the brook, your dog is happy, tired, and, unfortunately, stinky. Most pooches love water; most owners hate the aftermath! Why does wet dog smell happen, and what can you do about?

What Causes “Wet Dog Smell”?

Dogs, particularly if they go outside, collect all sorts of dirt, bits of food, leaves, sticks, and other debris in their fur. Even with good brushings, it can be difficult to remove it all from their coats. Their sweat also contains volatile organic acids, which consist of degrading fat and bacteria (completely natural and normal).

When dogs get wet, this organic matter dissolves. It’s like pushing the “On” button for smells! As the fur dries and the water evaporates, the concentration of malodorous compounds increases. What this means is that there are more of the smelly molecules in the air now. And on your couch, your rug, your car seats, and your clothing (because every dog, from 5 pounds to 150, thinks he’s a lap dog).

When Smell is Not the Big Problem

All dogs have a bit of an odor after a bath or other water activity, but if it is strong (or room-clearing), there may be a bigger issue. Certain health conditions can exacerbate wet dog smell, including: skin infections, ear infections, digestive issues, and periodontal disease. While an occasional, and mild, funky smell is normal, a strong odor can signal it’s time to make the trip to the vet for a checkup, and possibly some medicated shampoo or oral medication.

What Do You Do About the Smell?

If your dog is just run-of-the-mill smelly, there are several steps you can take to clear the air:

  • Brush your dog regularly. This removes excessive hair and skin cells, where malodors like to hide.
  • Bathe your dog regularly with a vet-approved shampoo. Let him shake, and then use a towel or dog hair dryer to hurry the drying process. Bacteria love warm, moist environments, so the quicker you can dry him, the better!
  • Choose a safe, non-toxic enzymatic cleaner with Ordenone. You can use this for a number of different applications, including spraying it directly on your dog! Ordenone traps malodors and locks them in a bubble, while enzymes go to work breaking them down completely. This is a safe, natural process that will not harm your dog. Just avoid spraying the product in his face and ears.
  • Do not use an air freshener on your dog. These products often have chemicals that can harm your pet and cause skin irritation. Plus, he doesn’t want to smell like a spring meadow!
  • Wash his bedding. Use your trusty enzyme/Ordenone cleaner to wash his bedding. This will reduce the dirt, food, sticks, and other debris that gets into his coat – and make everything smell a whole lot better.
  • Treat your carpets and furniture. This same cleaner can be applied to your carpets, furniture, and any other surface your dog has graced with his presence. It’s a quick and convenient way to spot treat everything you can’t fit in the washing machine or bathtub!

A little eau de dog is natural; strong odors, especially when they present with other symptoms (rashes, hair loss, bumps, etc.) should be checked out by the vet. Other than that, you can treat the smell quite easily and effectively at home.