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Dog stinks when it's wet: what can it be?


Dog love also means going outside with your fur nose in wind and weather. The fact that the dog stinks when it gets wet is an unpleasant side effect. But why is it that wet dog fur sometimes puts our smell tolerance to the test? Sweet, funny, adorable and ... stinky! Wet dogs are sometimes a bit of a challenge - Shutterstock / Dan74

Dog love also means going outside with your fur nose in wind and weather. The fact that the dog stinks when it gets wet is an unpleasant side effect. But why is it that wet dog fur sometimes puts our smell tolerance to the test?

Some dog owners hardly notice the smells of their dogs because they are used to it. So it often happens that friends or acquaintances who are visiting pay attention to it. Especially with a wet coat - for example, through rain or swimming - the dog smells bad. But where does the olfactory horror actually come from?

Wet dog stinks because the skin produces sebum

A wet dog stinks because the dog's skin produces an oily secretion when wet and damp, which acts like a kind of protective shield against bacteria and moisture. This sebum is very important for the protection of the skin and the dog fur - the fur is lightly greased and more resistant to environmental influences.

Basically: The wetter the dog gets, the more sebum its skin produces. And certain fragrances dissolve, which are usually unpleasant for us humans. They are particularly well distributed because they are water-soluble. After swimming or a heavy rain shower, for example, we get a full load of sebum fragrances.

By the way: This principle is the same as with us humans, with the decisive difference that our skin has significantly less sebum glands and that - thanks to evolution - we no longer have fur and do not produce as much secretion for protection.

How strong the smell of the wet dog is is also a question of the coat structure. Dogs with very short, silky and tight-fitting fur, such as the Basenji, Dalmatian or Pinscher, for example, only smell subtly of wet dogs when they come home from a walk in rainy weather. Even poodles or Spanish water dogs are not so odor-intensive with their curly fur.

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What to do if the wet dog stinks?

So that a dog stinks when it is wet is not only normal and natural, but also important because it protects the skin and dog fur. In any case, you cannot avoid this - the typical "wet dog" smell has to be accepted for better or for worse.

Fortunately, you can usually remove the smell by simply drying your dog. Rub your dog dry with the towel when it is wet - the rest will be taken care of by itself. After a while, the smell should be gone.

Don't just bathe wet dog

It is important that you do not simply bathe your dog when he is grumbling. This would not help to remove the unpleasant smell. It would also destroy your four-legged friend's natural protective coat and further stimulate sebum production. The dog still stinks despite being washed. You can find more information on the topic in the guide: "Washing dogs: how much hygiene is necessary?".

This is different in the case of heavy soiling of the fur - for example, if your four-legged friend has wallowed in a puddle of mud. For example, dog breeds like Beagle, Yorkshire Terrier and Border Collie love to rub a little with the "scent of nature".

Tip: Take a look at the guide: "Why do dogs like to wallow in the dirt?"
In this case, the handle to dog shampoo or - in the case of very heavy soiling - a bath is the right method. Often, however, combing with a special dog brush helps, which is gentler on your dog's skin than a bath.

Tip: If your dog smells extremely, so that it is really hard to endure - even if it is already dry - a visit to the veterinarian is advisable to check whether it is a disease.