Why Do Dogs Smell Bad When Wet? What Can You Do?

Why Do Dogs Smell Bad When Wet? What Can You Do?

Have you ever noticed that when you bathe your dog, he comes out even smellier than before? But what we wanted was a dog who was not stinky. Yet, even after doing the best thing we could possibly think of, giving them a bath, we make things even worse.

Is it something that we did wrong while bathing the dog? Or were the bath products we were using not up to the standards? Read on to find out more!

So, Why do dogs smell bad when wet? The main reason for this is the bacteria and other microbes thriving on the hair and skin of the dog when wet. Yes, you will make your dog cleaner by bathing him, but it will also unleash the putrid smell of these bacteria and yeast when you wet him.  

Why Do Dogs Smell Bad When Wet?

Undoubtedly, you will be caught off guard after learning that your dog is smelly even more than he did before right after you bathe him. Naturally, being dog moms and dads, we use the best kind of dog shampoo with various scents to keep our dogs feeling fresh and smelling good. 

And noticing that all our efforts have gone in vain may even make us a little sad inside and make us wonder where the hell our dog has been to smell this bad. Or is it the products we used while washing him?

Well, stop worrying about why dogs smell bad when wet. It’s not your fault or your pet’s fault that your little friend smells funny after coming out of the bathroom. The culprit behind this funky odor is the bacteria and yeast living on the dog’s healthy skin and hair follicles. 

You must have already felt this wet doggy odor from the first day of bathing a dog. But sometimes, when the bacteria on the dog’s body ripen a bit too well, this funny smell will multiply in multiple folds.

While the dog may smell normal when he’s dry and out of the water when you add water to the combination, the entire environment on the dog’s body will change, encouraging these microbes and microbiomes in collective – to grow and reproduce at a rapid pace, increasing its population. 

And another thing that answers the question, “Why do dogs smell bad when wet?” is the excretions created by these microbiomes.

Especially when the thriving environment is made much better with water, the increasing number of these organisms will make way for an increased amount of excretions. 

The bacteria on the dog’s body may be healthy, but their byproducts don’t smell that good. And when the wet dog is slowly drying, the water particles on the dog’s skin and body will start to evaporate along with the excreted particles, giving out a much stronger odor that you will ultimately notice. 

Therefore, as you can already understand, when the dog’s body is dry and has not come into contact with water, he will not smell anything remotely like critter dung.

But as soon as you add water, get him into a dog pool or give him a bath, the smell wafting from the dog will be nothing that is remotely pleasant. 

But there is one more reason why dogs smell bad when wet. Dogs’ skin produces a natural oil on them to prevent the skin from dehydrating. And there are some dog varieties that produce this oil more than necessary.

And as you must have already guessed, when this oil comes into contact with water, it produces a stench smell, making you think you did the worst job in cleaning your dog. 

Dogs with parasites on their skin may also emit a strong smell whenever they are wet. So if you have a concern that your dog is infected with a parasite, it may be proper to get him checked by the veterinarian as soon as possible. 

How Do I Stop My Wet Dog From Smelling?

Now that you know why dogs smell bad when wet or after you give them a lovely bath with all the expensive dog products in the local supermarket, the next question must be, how do I stop my wet dog from smelling? Well, every dog problem has an answer, and so is this. Let us explain. 

Grooming your dog at least a few times a week will help you eliminate excess or old hair and follicles. And combing the hair will also get rid of any dirt or debris residing on the dog’s skin.

And also, make sure that any secretion of the dog that will encourage excessive growth of bacteria and yeast (such as eyes and ear discharge) is wiped off every day. 

Bath your dog every month or so with high-quality dog shampoo and wash him thoroughly until all the residue is completely washed off.

Drying him as much as you can afterward using a cotton towel or a hair dryer will also get rid of the stench faster than letting him dry off naturally.

To do this, you may need to use more than one towel and if you are using a blow dryer, make sure the heat is on the lowest to avoid any accidents. 

After bathing the dog, you may even use a dog-friendly scented spray to keep him smelling more fresh.

It is vital to make sure that the spray you are using is specially designed for dogs because they tend to lick themselves. And using human-grade body sprays may not be healthy for the dog’s skin. 

Washing the bedding on your pet’s bed or cot is also equally important. These are the primary grounds on which these bacteria and yeast may develop over time.

Therefore, letting the dog sleep on a clean bed will keep the population of these microbiomes at bay, controlling the strong odor you may smell after washing him. 

You may even use a diluted vinegar spray on furniture and pet beds to eliminate unhealthy organisms.

Thank you for reading this post. Stay tuned with Jack Russell Owner for more posts like this.


  • Dominic Parker

    Dominic P. is a dog behavioral researcher who graduated from the University of Surrey and holds BVMsi (Hons) in Veterinary Medicine and Science. He has been around dogs since childhood and has unconditional love for dogs. It makes him become a researcher instead of practicing as a veterinarian. Dominic enjoys his work and likes to share his findings with dog parents to give them a better understanding of dogs’ behaviors.

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