What Causes Wet Dog Smell And How To Get Rid Of It Fast

We’ll give you one guess who’s the culprit.

Why do people smell? It’s all the same sort of stuff: sweat glands, oily skin, waxy buildup. Microbes, yeast, bacteria, chemical compounds. Yadda yadda yadda. Sounds gross, eh? Imagine what we smell like to the dog. Good thing they don’t seem to mind. (We think they might even like it.)

But if your wet dog is causing your home to smell like a kennel, we’ve got some helpful solutions for you. There are lots of little puppy maintenance tips and tricks to keep your pooch smelling fresher than not. We’ve also got some ideas for how to get that wet dog smell out of your house (get rid of that dog hair, to start!) and how to keep it smelling sweet going forward.

But first, let’s learn a bit more about our furry friends, shall we?

Why do dogs smell?

What makes our besties so stinky? Mostly moisture. And moisture comes in lots of varieties.

  • Wrinkles, oils + weird skin stuff
    • What’s that really specific “houndy” smell? It’s the sebum! Sebum is a lubricating substance secreted by glands under the skin to protect hair and skin, found in naturally oilier skin.
    • Mirror, mirror on the wall, who are the wrinkliest pooches of them all?
      • Shar-Peis
      • Basset hounds
      • Bulldogs
      • Pugs
      • Pekingese
      • French bulldogs
    • Because these good boys and girls are super wrinkly (thus, trapping moisture in their flappy bits), they harbor more bacteria—fed by the sebum!—and therefore contain a higher population of odor-producing microbes.
  • Drool and slobber. Even when it’s dried and crusty, it still stinks like dog breath. And even when it’s not on the dog, it still smells like dog breath (just have a whiff of your pup’s bed).
    • The drooliest pooch awards go to these breeds.
      • English mastiff
      • Newfoundland
      • Neapolitan mastiff
      • Saint Bernard
      • Bloodhounds
      • Coonhounds
      • Basset hounds
  • How much time they spend outside (and what’re they rolling in)? Is it just wet grass? Is it a puddle of rain water or snowmelt or … worse?
    • Lakes and rivers are often full of fish. Fish stink! So does rotting vegetation, algae and other water-dwelling organic material. But buddy sure loves to swim.
  • How often they’re bathed. Or not bathed.
  • Allergies, dermatitis or yeast infections. Pooches are prone to irritated skin, just like us.

How to get rid of wet dog smell

  • Frequent routine drying goes a long way. Think of it like spot treating your wet dog.
    • Invest in a microfiber dog towel. They’re small and handy, super absorbent, quick drying and lightweight. Plus, they trap less fur than a terry cloth towel.
    • Stash your doggo towels by every entrance to your house, in the car, in your backpack, in the mudroom, everywhere. Even if it’s just a mild case of swamp paws, give them a good dry.
  • Natural enzyme cleaners help get out tough pet odors from your home or car, especially urine. There are a ton of different kinds, so be sure you get one that’s safe to use around pets (they all should be, but hey!).
    • A diluted vinegar mixture is also effective for spraying onto the dog’s beds, pillows, favorite couch cushion and/or your car seats to neutralize any scents.
  • Freshen up with Febreze. Hit your dog’s favorite spots with some Febreze Air Heavy Duty Pet Odor Eliminator—but do not spray directly onto the dog! Febreze comes in all sorts of scents that aren’t wet dog.
  • Routine baths + laundering are an obvious solution.
    • Pups should be washed every 2 weeks or so. Thick-coated dogs can be bathed once a month.
    • Towel them off, and blow dry! Yes, we’re serious. Use a low heat or cool setting.
    • Don’t forget to wash their collars. Nylon can go in the washing machine. Leather collars can be wiped down with a gentle dish soap, like Dawn, and warm water, then rinsed with clean water and air dried. Consider a waterproof collar!
    • Launder your dog’s bed weekly. Some pet beds come with removable slipcovers, which makes this job easier and likely increases the life span of the bed.
      • You can use a variety of odor-neutralizing laundry detergents or additives, such as apple cider vinegar. Add ¼ cup during the detergent cycle (and even another one during the rinse cycle, if it’s really bad!).
  • Grooming wipes + slobber rags are awesome. It’s like those refreshing, hydrating makeup remover wipes, for dogs.
    • There are lots and lots of brands of grooming wipes, paw wipes and slobber rags for dogs. Most of them are all-natural, plant-based and hypoallergenic—but most importantly, deodorizing! They even make specific wipes for animal eyes and noses, with ingredients like aloe vera, cucumber and green tea. These wipes can help with any sort of irritation that’s occurring and can treat and prevent dryness, cracks or creepy eye goobers. Don’t forget to clean inside their ears, too!
    • You can also totally DIY a simple solution to clean your dog with.
      • 1 cup warm water
      • 1 drop gentle dish soap (seriously, just one drop!)
  • Linen bedding stinks less.
    • Does your pup sleep in your bed? Linen bed sheets and duvets are sturdy and tend to not trap and absorb odors as much as cotton. Plus, they’re anti-allergenic.
  • Baking soda (is actually man’s best friend).
  • Baking soda neutralizes smells on upholstery, from carpet and couches to the back seat of your car. Sprinkle it liberally (like, really liberally) all over the offending area, and let it sit overnight. Then just vacuum it up in the morning!
  • Ugh, your car also smells like a wet dog? Yeah, we’re not surprised.
    • Try throwing a blanket down in the trunk or the back seat, wherever your dog tends to spend their time after romping around in the park or going for a swim. That way, you can just take the blanket out and toss it in the washing machine with apple cider vinegar to neutralize the stink, and it’s not embedded in your car.
    • You can also install a Febreze CAR Heavy Duty Pet Odor Eliminator, specifically formulated to remove tough pet smells and leave your car feeling fresher.
  • Diet matters.
    • A poor diet can cause yeast infections in pups, which makes them stinky. Make sure you’re only feeding your doggo the finest feasts. Or at least not too much garbage or table scraps.

How to get that wet dog smell out of your house

  • Vacuum everything, repeat. Repeat again. Hair, dirt and dander require that you sweep, mop, vacuum, repeat. And vacuum everything: carpets, curtains, furniture, rugs, floors. Be sure you’re cleaning and changing your vacuum filter often, as well.
  • Invest in Swiffer pet-friendly tools. Swiffer Heavy Duty Pet products are super helpful. Not only can Swiffer Dusters Heavy Duty Pet extend to reach those awkward places where hair might be hiding, but its fibers trap and lock in dust and allergens.
  • Sweep! Sweep your floors with Swiffer Sweepers Heavy Duty Pet, which are ideal for sweeping without having to mess with a dustbin. The dog hair just sticks to its disposable cloths, which you can then trash when you’re done.
  • Or better yet, mop! Mop finished floors with Swiffer Heavy Duty Pet Wet Mop, no water buckets or soap necessary.
  • Air out the place. Open all the windows and doors, crank the fans, turn up the air purifier.

Okay, so accept it. Part of being a dog owner is having your stuff smell like dog sometimes. But it doesn’t have to smell like a wet dog.

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