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Why Do Dogs Stink When Wet?

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You’ve just come in from the rain after having walked your now sopping-wet pooch.  You enter the house, remove your boots, and stand back as he rigorously shakes all that wet away, and begins to wag his tail. While he’s a happy boy, you’re thinking “whoa, what on earth is that funky smell?” Well, that’s the smell of wet dog and until he has been thoroughly dried, he’s going to spread that dank scent throughout the house and onto any soft surfaces he cares to rub himself against.

Related: Best Dog Wipes

So, what causes that distinctive “wet dog” odor?  It’s actually as bad as you’d think. It’s a stinky combo of microorganisms such as yeasts and bacteria that naturally occur deep down, on your dog’s skin and just settle in for the long haul. And, like most natural organism, they excrete volatile compounds (AKA poop).  Just add a little water and what you have is the answer to why wet dogs stink. Yes, that odor is in fact a cocktail of reconstituted feces from those millions of microorganisms.

Now that you know what causes the smell, how do you prevent it from infiltrating your home, your car, and clothes?  I mean, dogs will continue to jump in lakes, pools, get caught in rainstorms, run under hoses, and have baths, right?

There are a few tricks you can use to banish doggy smell, such as:

  1. After his bath, you need to devote lots of heavily absorbent towels to blotting him off and preventing those drips. Yes, he’s still going to shake and run around trying to rub himself along the rug, bed, sofa… but with effective, preliminary towelling you can eliminate a lot of the excess moisture and help him dry more quickly.
  2. Introduce him to the blow dryer. Kept on a low speed at a minimal heat setting is a great way to move the drying process along. Towel him dry first, then run the hand dryer up and down his coat, slowly brushing as you go. Treats and soothing words can also go a long way in making this a positive, one-on-one process that he’ll look forward to.
  3. After toweling him dry (meaning he’s not dripping wet or sending out jet sprays when he shakes himself off), you could opt to let him air-dry. For colder days, let him free range around the house but don’t let him settle into his crate or bed – it will inhibit drying. If it’s a warm day, take him out for a walk. Warning: if you simply let him out into the yard to air-dry, he’s going to roll in dirt. No question about it, your dog will roll in dirt.
  4. Check out some of the many scent neutralizers designed specifically for use on a dog’s coat. Whatever you do, don’t resort to Febreze or home deodorizer sprays which can cause any number of serious reactions if applied directly. Check out sites like Amazon, Chewy or PetSmart to find a product that’s suitable for your pet.

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