What is that Wet Dog Smell?
A few weeks ago we wrote about “Frito Feet”, that weird phenomenon that makes your dogs feet smell like Frito corn chips. Turns out it’s caused by a combination of sweat and bacteria on your dog’s feet.
But what about that “wet dog” smell? I’ve had many dogs when I was young (my grandfather raised collies and owned a boarding facility) and many dogs since I reached adulthood. They all had the same wet dog smell, no matter the make or model of dog, they all smelled pretty bad when wet with the same distinct smell. What is it that causes that pungent odor? And why does Jack smell like that only when he’s wet?
Turns out it’s the partially due to the same culprit that creates the frito feet smell – bacteria. Bacteria combines with other yeasts found on the dog’s skin and coat and these molecules are called organic acids. They are always there on your dog, just as there is always bacteria on your skin, but when the dog is dry, the acids don’t emit much of an odor. When the dog gets wet however, and the organic acids are combined with water, the molecules breakdown and are released into the air. A wet dog also emits much more moisture into the air, making the air around him more humid and and humid air holds more odors than dry air. The higher the concentration of the odor laden molecules in the air, the more your dog will smell.
There really isn’t much you can do about the smell, it is a natural process. You can diminish the odor with regular bathing and then a thorough drying, complete with hairdryer for your dog.
What’s Up With That: The Gross Chemistry Behind That Funky Wet-Dog Smell