Woof: Why Wet Dog Smell Is a Thing—and How to Prevent It

Wet dog smell is an assault on the senses.
Wet dog smell is an assault on the senses. / BenAkiba/iStock via Getty Images

It’s not that we love dogs any less when they stink. If anything, a smelly canine just reminds us that we care for our pets unconditionally. Even when they have literal stink lines emitting from them, like a cartoon character.

While dogs can get dirty from digging or other filthy activities, their scent can get particularly offensive when they get wet. Why does this happen, and more importantly, what can be done to avoid it?

It turns out your pooch isn’t really to blame. Dogs tend to harbor a lot of yeast and bacteria on their skin and fur. These microorganisms produce chemical compounds that remain on the coat. Normally, it doesn’t smell. But when these organisms and their waste get wet, odor molecules are released when the water evaporates. It’s why your dog might smell just fine going about their daily dog business but suddenly turns into a stink bomb after a swim or being out in the rain.

According to the American Kennel Club, the smells can resemble almonds, fruit, honey, or have “hints of sulfur and feces.” Certain breeds with wrinkly skin, oily skin, or excessive drooling may be more prone to harboring bacteria.

Fortunately, there’s a way to help mitigate the stench. The faster your dog dries, the faster the smell will dissipate, so it would be wise to dry them thoroughly with a towel or invest in a blow-dryer made specifically for dogs. (A blow-dryer for humans may be too hot for them.) Ideally, you’d want to use a towel for an initial dry and then grab the blow-dryer. Run the dryer all over the coat, and try not to keep it aimed in one place for too long. Try to get them dry before they go sprinting off in their post-bath freakout. You should also try to keep collars or harnesses clean, too. It’s the best way to make sure you don’t need to deal with “hints of feces” as part of your olfactory experience.

[h/t The Washington Post]