Why Do Dogs Smell More When Wet

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We are all familiar with it. That particularly pungent aroma coming from our furry friends when they are wet. There is no mistaking the 'eau de wet dog' scent even if you not a pet owner. And while you may be all too familiar with the smell, you may not know exactly why Fido smells when he or she is wet. You bathe them regularly, but still smell that smell every time they play in the pool or water hose. So what is it that creates the scent we can't seem to fully cure when it comes to our furry friends? Also, should you try to completely get rid of the wet dog smell?

The Root of the Behavior

Veterinarians and scientists from around the world have weighed in to help answer the age-old question about doggie odor. And particularly with regards to wet dog odor. What these experts have found may be surprising to most. The consensus seems to come down to a more scientific explanation than anything else. The undeniable stench that flows off your canine when he or she is wet can actually be attributed to a couple of different hidden sources. Understanding these sources and what purposes they serve is key to knowing why your pup smells so strongly even when you bathe them regularly.

The foremost opinion regarding the wet dog smell is credited to tiny yeasts and bacteria that live on your dog. And you thought you were only walking one little pet all this time. These tiny creatures are referred to as microorganisms and may be the root of whyFido smells so strongly when wet. Each of the tiny microorganisms leaves behind matter that is called micro excrete (discharge). This micro excrete is classified as volatile organic compounds, or VOC's for short. When the moisture on your pooch evaporates it carries these volatile organic compounds with it. Thus creating the ever annoying wet dog smell.

In addition to the microorganisms that all dogs carry around, there are some breeds that are more susceptible to a stronger wet smell than others. Hound breeds, for instance, have more oil in their coats than a lot of other breeds. This oil, known as sebum, collects on your pup's hair follicles and shafts to protect them against skin dehydration. Although the sebum does serve an important purpose, having this excess oil can make your pup even more smelly when they are wet. The excess oil mixes with the water and creates more bacteria. Which in turn causes more odor.

Encouraging the Behavior

There are a few things that you can do to help lessen the irritating wet dog smell from Fido after a bath or aqua play. One of the most important things you can do is to dry your pooch properly. While a towel will serve to get most of the work done they are simply not enough. To combat some of the stench, you need to get to the 'root' of the problem and make sure that your pup is dry all the way to their skin. With the assistance of a hair dryer, you will be able to get them dried more quickly and effectively.

Most veterinarians also caution you not to over bathe your dog. Unless your pup gets into something, it is recommended to only bathe them every couple of weeks. Also, when you do bathe them make sure you are using dog-friendly, high-quality shampoos. Rinsing thoroughly is also important, as any soap or shampoo residue can just add to the odor issue as it dries and mixes with their natural oils. While there are deodorants, scented shampoos, and even doggie colognes available, these may only serve to briefly mask the smell. You will also want to make sure that your pup isn't sensitive to the more 'perfumey' products, as they may cause skin irritations.

Other Solutions and Considerations

If your dog seems more stinky than normal then a visit to the vet may be in order. Apart from their natural wet dog odor, your furbaby may be suffering from a skin condition. Skin conditions can be a factor in intensifying the smell coming from your dog. Conditions such as bacterial infections and yeast infections can both be a worry and cause of excess odor. Getting Fido to the vet for proper treatment not only helps lessen the smell but also keeps any infection from worsening. Your vet can also suggest what shampoos may be best for your dog and their specific grooming needs.


As unmistakable as the wet dog smell is, it is not something that even the most dedicated canine owner likes. But understanding the cause of it and how to make it a little more bearable is important. Smell aside, if your pup loves playing in the water be sure to take them to the pool or lake any chance you get. The smell only lasts a little while, but their happiness will last much longer!