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Many dogs stink after bath often leaving owners wonder what that's all about.

 After all, after you take a bath your skin and hair smell very good, but the same cannot be said about dogs, what gives?

 And yes, you used a nice smelling shampoo, you made sure you worked it in well into your dog's coat and you carefully rinsed it off. 

With all these measures in place, you would expect your dog to smell fresh as roses.

 Turns out, there is a reason behind that famous wet dog smell many dog owners complain about. Let's discover more about what may be going on.

1) A Matter of Molecules

Dogs aren't the only creatures blessed with powerful sniffers, humans can also sense smells quite decently. Of course, we will never be able to compete against dogs, but we can't complain about our sense of olfaction either. 

When we sense an odor, it's because of microscopic chemical molecules floating in the air.

These volatile molecules enter our noses and reach the olfactory epithelium, a special membrane that houses special olfactory receptors which send messages to the brain.

 Once the messages are received, the brain decodes the smell, and in the case of wet dog, it's often perceived as unpleasant, but what causes that bad wet dog smell in the first place? Let's dig a little deeper!

2) The Power of H2O

It's a well known fact that humidity and moisture work better at transmitting smells compared to dry air. 

According to Live Science "the more likely substances dissolve in water, the heftier their odor. This is why you sense a distinctive smell after the first rains and why people use warm, steaming water to carry the scent from dried potpourri into the air of their homes. 

This also explains why dogs are so intently focused on going on to sniffing adventures after it rains. Intrigued? Read more about this here: how rain impacts dogs. 

On a stinkier note, a pile of trash is also more likely to stink on a hot and humid day. 

In a similar fashion, when a dog's coat gets wet, the water frees volatile molecules from the surface of the dog's coat, and of course, these molecules end up all the way up inside our noses. 

What makes the smell unpleasant though? Let's dig now even deeper!

Wet dog smell? Not my fault..

Wet fur emphasizes odors

3) Microorganisms at Play

This may sound gross, but that wet dog odor actually stems from the presence of microorganisms living on the dog's skin.

 The dog's coat is normally populated by yeast and bacteria and when the dog's coat gets wet, these organisms excrete stinky volatile compounds (for science junkies, here's a list of compounds that contribute to wet dog smell). 

These molecules are then liberated from the dog's fur and travel all the way up to our noses. 

If you think that your dog's coat is free of microorganisms, think again. 

According to Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, a small number of yeast and bacteria are considered normal flora of the dog's' skin.

4) Some Dogs Naturally Stink More

Did you know? Dogs that belong to the hound category, such as the beagle, foxhound, bloodhound and coonhound, are known for having a strong, musky coat odor compared to other dogs.

 According to Beagle Pro, this houndy smell is believed to stem from the fact that hounds work in packs and have a need for being aware of each member's whereabouts throughout the fields.

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 There are therefore chances that throughout the many years of selective breeding, this breed developed a stronger than average level of chemical emitters from their skin.

Doggy odor? It'snot from me!

Doggy odor? It's not from me!

5) A Possible Skin Condition

While it's quite normal for a dog to smell more after a bath, doggy odor that gets overwhelmingly stenchy can be a symptom of a skin condition requiring veterinary attention. 

This occurs when the numbers of yeast and bacteria are no longer effectively kept under control by the immune system. 

When the dog's immune system is suppressed, the numbers of bacteria and fungi increase which can lead to skin infections, explains veterinarian Dr. Ernest Ward in an article for VCA animals hospitals. 

These infections are often categorized as "opportunistic infections" and may cause a strong musty skin odor in dogs along with other symptoms such as redness, itchiness and crusty, flaky skin.

Fortunately, finding the  exact culprit is rather easy. All that's needed is performing cytology - that is, a microscopic exam of a small sample of affected skin surface. 

6) Other Possible Medical Issues

There can also be other sources of smell that can cause dogs to stink up a room. These may require that you put on your investigative hat to find the source of the smell, or even better, that you visit a vet so they can be properly tackled. 

Anal Gland Problems

Problems with the dog's anal gland are notorious for causing a fishy smell. The smell is strongest under the dog's tail. Affected dogs are often seen scooting and licking or biting their behinds.

Bad Teeth

Dogs with bad teeth will emit a strong unpleasant smell from their mouths, but the smell can easily spread to all the coat as a result of licking themselves. 

Affected dogs may struggle chewing on things and may drop food from their mouth,  although some dogs may not show any obvious signs.

An Ear Infection

Even an ear infection can produce an unpleasant smell. Affected dogs will often scratch their ears, shake their heads and they may be seen yawning. 

It may be therefore worthy paying a visit to the vet, just to rule out any of these medical possibilities. 

7) Rolling in Something Nasty

According to a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, a wet 60-pound dog is forced to carry an extra pound of wet fur around and allowing it to evaporate would require about 20 percent of his daily caloric intake!

That's a big energy expense! Fortunately, dogs are blessed with an effective mechanism that gets rid of 70 percent of water from their coats in as little as four seconds: you got it, it's the famous after-bath shake!

On top of shaking their coats, dogs may feel compelled to rub their coats on carpets or furniture, or worse, roll on the ground to dry up. 

This latter often consists of rolling on something nasty such as a pile of cow poop or rotten fish. D. Caroline Coile and Margaret H. Bonham in the book "Why Do Dogs Like Balls" explains that dogs who roll in things after a bath way simply do so because they may want to get their smell back.

Yes, to put it bluntly, that wonderful shampoo you purchased from the pet store smells like poo-poo to your dog, so he can't wait to go back to... ugh, smelling like a dog again!

Now That You Know...

As seen there are several good reasons why dogs stink after a bath. Now, you may be wondering about what you can do to reduce that doggy smell in your home.

Your dog will likely smell less bad once his coat has dried, especially if you blow dry his coat, but what about your carpet, rugs and upholstery?

 If your dog likes to roll on the carpet or rub against furniture to expedite the drying process, these surfaces will likely absorb that wet dog smell and they may end up stinking too. 

There are fortunately some strategies to remove that strong wet dog smell. 

For instance, you can steam clean the stinky surfaces and then you can fill a bowl with white distilled vinegar and place it right in front of your air-conditioning filter, allowing the fumes from the vinegar to evaporate and purify the air circulating around your home.

Of course, if the smell originates from a medical issue, the only way to solve it is to tackle the underlying cause directly. 

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