Why Do Wet Dogs Stink? Unraveling the Mystery!

Have you ever wondered why dogs smell so terrible when wet? Even though they may look cute and adorable, their odor can be overwhelming. Most people assume that this stench is caused by damp fur; however, the reasons for a wet dog’s odor is much more complicated than that.

The science of why dogs stink when wet is an interesting topic that has puzzled many pet owners over the years. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this offensive smell, and provide you with some tips on how to reduce it. So, buckle up and prepare to unravel the mystery of why wet dogs stink!

Why do dogs smell bad when they are wet?

Wet dogs stink due to a variety of reasons that have to do with their skin, fur, and underlying medical conditions. Let’s dive deeper into each of these explanations:

1. The shape of a dog’s hair follicles

Dogs have unique hair follicles that differ from human hair follicles. Their hair follicles are tilted at an angle, which allows them to shed dirt, debris, and liquids easily. When dogs get wet, the water gets trapped in these tilted hair follicles, and the resulting dampness and humidity create an ideal breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria.

2. Skin folds and wrinkles

Dogs with skin folds and wrinkles, especially those on their face, are more likely to develop bad odors when wet. This is because the folds create an ideal environment for bacteria and yeast to grow, leading to skin infections and unpleasant odors. Breeds that are prone to such skin folds include Bulldogs, Pugs, and Shar-Peis.

3. Poor hygiene

Just like humans, dogs require regular grooming to stay fresh and clean. Unfortunately, not all dogs receive adequate grooming, and dirt, sweat, and other debris can accumulate on their skin and fur. When a dirty dog gets wet, the water washes away some of the grime, but also exacerbates the remaining odors, leading to even more stench.

4. Medical conditions

Dogs with medical conditions, such as fungal or bacterial infections, may produce strong odors even when they’re dry. When these dogs get wet, the water can spread the odor throughout their body, making it even more noticeable. Possible medical conditions that can lead to smelly dogs include yeast infections, bacterial overgrowth, and dermatitis.

What are some tips to prevent wet dog odor?

Now that we’ve explored the various reasons why wet dogs stink, let’s discuss some measures you can take to reduce or eliminate this odor:

1. Regular grooming

The best way to prevent wet dog odors is to keep your pet clean and tidy. Regular grooming can help remove loose hair, dirt, and debris from your dog’s hair and skin, reducing the chances of bacteria growth. Make sure to use dog-friendly shampoos and conditioners that are designed to maintain the natural pH balance of your pet’s skin.

2. Use a towel

When you’re done giving your dog a bath, use a clean towel to dry them off thoroughly. Make sure to rub the towel into your pet’s coat, lifting up the hair and exposing the skin underneath. This will help remove excess moisture that could lead to bacterial growth and odors.

3. Use an odor-eliminating spray

If you’re still struggling with wet dog odors despite regular grooming, you can try using an odor-eliminating spray. These sprays are designed to neutralize pet odors and can be used on surfaces such as furniture, carpets, and even your dog’s coat. Make sure to use a product that’s safe for your pet and that won’t irritate their skin or eyes.

4. Consult a veterinarian

If your dog’s wet odor seems particularly strong, it may be a sign of an underlying medical condition. In such cases, it’s best to consult a veterinarian who can diagnose and treat the problem. In some cases, a change in diet or medication may be required to address the issue.


Wet dog odors can be unpleasant, but they’re a natural part of being a pet owner. By understanding the causes of this stench and taking appropriate measures, you can reduce or eliminate it over time. Remember to groom your dog regularly, use a towel to dry them off after a bath, and consider using an odor-eliminating spray if necessary.


Here are some common questions that pet owners have about why dogs smell bad when wet:

  • Q: Why do dogs smell more when they’re wet?
  • A: Dogs smell more when they’re wet because the water reacts with the oils and bacteria on their skin and fur, creating a potent odor.
  • Q: How often should I bathe my dog to prevent wet odor?
  • A: The frequency of baths depends on your dog’s breed, activity levels, and lifestyle. Generally, it’s recommended that you bathe your dog once every 2 to 3 months. However, if your pet has skin or coat problems, or enjoys rolling in the mud, you may need to bathe them more frequently.
  • Q: Can I use human shampoo on my dog?
  • A: No, you should never use human shampoo on your dog. Human shampoos are designed to maintain a pH level of around 5.5, while dog shampoos have a pH level of around 7.5. Using human shampoo on your pet can lead to skin irritation, dryness, and other problems.
  • Q: My dog still smells bad after I’ve given them a bath. What should I do?
  • A: If your dog smells bad after a bath, it may be due to an underlying medical condition. Consult a veterinarian who can diagnose and treat the problem.


  • https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/grooming/why-dog-smell-after-bath/
  • https://www.petmd.com/dog/grooming/evr_dg_why_do_dogs_smell_bad
  • https://thebark.com/content/why-do-wet-dogs-smell

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