Dogs have a whole host of smells that humans can’t sense, and one of those smells is the reason your pup stinks when wet.
This is because the dampness breaks down their odor-neutralizing oils (also known as apocrine glands) which are concentrated in the skin and hair follicles. Without these oils, your dog will start to produce smelly compounds like skatole and indole.
While this may sound rather gross, it’s not actually a bad thing! The compounds are used to mark territory, with a stronger smell indicating that an area is more frequented by dogs.
So while your dog’s wet smell may not be to your taste, it is a natural phenomenon that is important in canine behavior.
The smell also comes from bacteria that live on the skin, and it is a good thing that this bacteria is there. This bacteria produces hydrogen sulfide (which is the same chemical as rotten egg smell) which helps to destroy germs on your dog’s skin. As an added bonus, hydrogen sulfide also kills bugs like fleas and ticks that are attracted to your dog’s moist skin.
The wet smell may be unpleasant for humans, but for dogs it’s a natural process.
So next time your pup comes back from the rain or from swimming, don’t criticize him for having smelly wet fur.
Instead, take a sniff and appreciate the fact that your dog’s wetness is helping to protect him from illness.
So How Do I Make My Dog Smell Better?
The good news is that there are a few things you can do to make your dog smell better when he gets wet.
You can use dry shampoo on your dog’s coat to absorb the moisture and remove the stink. You can also use a pet odor neutralizer spray on his body (such as those commonly used to get rid of bad smells in rooms, closets, or cars).
While these are handy ways to remove moisture, don’t rely on them if you want your dog smelling better. Because he will stop producing all those stink-producing compounds once he is dry.
So the best way to make your dog smell better when he gets wet is to take extra time for bathing him. If you tend to forget this step, then try investing in a dog bath mat. These mats are easy on the paws and can be removed after your dog has dried off with no staining or sticky residue.
Here are some more tips to keep in mind:
Dogs under 5 months old don’t need baths as often, so wait until their coat is grown out before bathing them.
You don’t have to bathe your dog daily because in between baths, you can use a moist hair spray to help stop excessive shedding. This will also help to minimize the pet odor that builds up in your house.
For dogs that aren’t used to being bathed, start off with a bath and rinse. This will allow them time to become used to the process while preventing staining.
Understand that dogs do not smell the same as humans. We may not like the smell of our own sweat (or those of other humans who have a similar odor), but we don’t mind the scent on other people’s skin when they get sweaty.
While dogs do produce a smelly process, it is natural for them to do so. As such, we should not judge them for their scent.
Dogs use their odor to mark out territory and show dominance over each other.
They also do it so they can recognize each other, which can help to prevent dog fights.
So next time your dog stinks, remember that it is a natural process and try to work with it rather than against it.