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How To Get Rid Of Wet Dog Smell

Written by Laura
Laura is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Monday 6 December 2021
Last updated on
Sunday 24 October 2021
dog that is wet
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As dog owners, we are all familiar with wet dog smell. As much as we love our four-legged friends, it’s not the most pleasant thing in the world! 

So, let’s examine the causes of it, and more importantly, how to get rid of wet dog smell. Keep reading for everything you need to know including answers to the most frequently asked questions. 

What Causes Wet Dog Smell

The microorganisms that naturally live on a dog’s skin and hair produce waste in the form of various chemical compounds. They are barely noticeable, if at all when your dog is dry. However, water liberates these compounds and accentuates the smell of the waste in the atmosphere. It tends to be noticeable after they have been out walking in the rain, swimming, and playing in water, or after taking a bath.

A little bit of an odor is normal and shouldn’t be too unpleasant. As mentioned above, all dogs, and indeed all animals, have microorganisms living on our skin. Certain dogs, however, notably retriever and hound breeds, like Golden Retrievers and Basset hounds, have sebum oil on their coats that can make the smell stronger.

That said, if the smell is overwhelming or particularly unpleasant, it could mean that there is a build-up of chemicals in your dog’s coat and that they need a little extra grooming to remove them.

How To Get Rid Of Wet Dog Smell 

If your dog is particularly smelly after a walk in the rain, it could mean that their coat needs some extra care. Here are a few tips to help you out!


How often your dog requires a bath depends on their coat type. It’s important to get it right so that their fur has a healthy balance of oils and natural bacteria in it. Whilst occasional, and in some cases, regular baths are needed to remove excess oil and bacteria, dog fur contains natural self-cleaning oils that can be stripped from the coat with too much bathing. This can cause dry skin and irritation. 

Most short-medium length coats don’t require regular baths and shouldn’t be bathed more than once every other month. Particularly if their fur is soft, straight, or slightly wavy. They do need the occasional bath though, especially when they are dirty from particularly muddy walks, to remove dirt and debris. Longer coats, coarser coats, and those with curls or cords should be bathed more routinely, but not more than once a month. This is because thicker, longer coats tend to trap dirt and debris more easily, which can cause skin infections if left to build up.

Whatever your dog’s coat type, owners should use an all-natural, gentle dog shampoo, especially with breeds prone to sensitive skin, such as Dalmatians. You can also buy dry shampoos for dogs if you’re looking to avoid wet dog smell from bathing. They work in much the same way as human dry shampoo, by absorbing excess oil from the hair, leaving your dog’s coat nice and fresh without the need for rinsing or using water. Bathing can usually be done at home, but if your dog is one that needs regular haircuts or clipping by a professional dog groomer, it’s a good idea to let them your dog as well. 


Brushing is essential to remove loose fur, debris, and tangles in dogs’ coats. It also exfoliates the hair follicles and encourages oil production, which protects your dog’s fur and keeps it clean. How often you need to brush your dog depends on their coat type. Dogs with long, curled, or corded fur need daily brushing to prevent or remove tangles. When fur tangles, it can lead to matting over time, which can be painful and lead to infections. It can also conceal other issues like parasites.

Dogs with shorter and less textured coats need brushing at least once a week to remove debris and loose fur. Seasonal shedders will need brushing a lot more often during the end of spring and fall, to remove loose fur, prevent discomfort, and avoid hair getting all over your home. Dogs that shed heavily all year round, whatever their coat length or texture, may need brushing every few days for the same reason. 

The type of brush you need will depend on your dog’s coat. Pin and bristle brushes are great for dogs with shorter, softer coats with less texture. Rakes and slicker brushes are best for dogs with longer, thicker, more textured coats. De-shedding tools are also available for heavy shedders.


Haircuts and clipping are not necessary for all dogs. In fact, most dogs don’t need them. Dogs that need regular haircuts are those with thick, curly fur, such as Poodles. They require monthly or bi-monthly haircuts to prevent matting once they are fully grown. It will also help to keep your dog’s hair fresh and avoid bad smells from bacterial build-up.

Dogs with other coat types may still require the odd haircut or trim around the back end for hygiene reasons, particularly those with feathery coats, such as Border Collies. If you’re looking to give your dog a haircut at home, take a look at our guides on the best grooming scissors and clippers. Make sure you do your research and learn how to cut your dog’s hair safely.

Keep Your Dog’s Belongings Clean

Another way to keep your dog clean is to keep their belongings clean. Like human clothes, the natural bacteria that dogs leave on their collars and harnesses will retain odors and should be washed regularly to avoid a build-up of bacteria and bad smells.

Fabric and nylon collars, harnesses, and leashes are usually machine washable. Be sure to use a non-bio washing detergent, which is free of harsh chemicals and won’t upset your dog’s skin. It’s also helpful to add a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar in with the cycle, as it’s a natural cleanser and deodorizer. Other materials may require hand-washing with antibacterial soap, apple cider vinegar, and water. 

Most dog bed and car seat covers are removable and machine washable, those that aren’t should be washed by hand and left to dry thoroughly. Always let your dog’s belongings dry thoroughly before you give them back to him. Airdry them unless the product label says that it’s dryer safe. You may also want to clean your dog’s soft toys, particularly those that get taken to bed.

Removing Wet Dog Smell From Your Home & Car

Mixing apple cider vinegar with water 50/50 in a spray bottle will create a natural, non-toxic, de-odorizer solution. It is safe to spray on the carpet, soft furnishings, dog beds, and inside of the car. However, some people don’t like the smell of vinegar, and even though it will fade after a day or so, they can’t bear the wait! 

Another tried and trusted home remedy for wet dog smell is baking soda. For a smelly home or car, try sprinkling some baking soda on soft surfaces. Leave it overnight or for a few hours, and vacuum it up afterward. Baking soda contains odor-neutralizing chemicals that will kill any and all bad smells! It can also be used for other pet-related smells, such as toilet accidents, and even removes toilet stains from carpets and rugs. 

smell of wet dogs
Dogs start to smell usually right after they play under the rain or take a swim in forest lakes.

Wet Dog Smell: FAQ

Can I use vinegar in my house for wet dog smell?

Mixing apple cider vinegar with water 50/50 in a spray bottle will create a natural, non-toxic, de-odorizing solution that is safe to spray on soft surfaces. The vinegar itself does smell fairly strong, but the smell will fade after a day or two.

Does baking soda work for wet dog smell?

Another tried and trusted home remedy for wet dog smell is baking soda. For a smelly house or car, try sprinkling some baking soda on soft surfaces, leaving it overnight or for a few hours, and vacuuming it up. It contains odor-neutralizing chemicals that will kill any and all bad smells!  It can also be used for other pet-related smells, like toilet accidents, and even removes stains from carpets and rugs.

How can I make my dog smell better without a bath?

Try using a non-rinse, waterless, or bathless dog foam shampoo. Sometimes called dry shampoo for dogs, it works the same way as human dry shampoo, by absorbing oils in the fur, and clean’s your dog’s coat without the use of any water or rinsing.

Do dogs dislike bad smells?

Dogs’ noses are far more sensitive than ours and can pick up on lots of scents that we can’t, including those that are far away from us. However, because of this, they are generally a lot better at tolerating bad smells. Although, every dog is different, and some are more sensitive than others.

A little bit of a wet dog smell is nothing to worry about. If anything, it means that your dog’s coat is totally normal! However, extreme odors may be a sign that your dog’s coat needs a little extra TLC. Try following our grooming tips, and if you’re concerned about your dog’s coat, speak to your vet.

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