Why Do Dogs Smell So Bad in the Rain? Stop Wet Dog Smell

When my Siberian Huskies were alive, and we would take them for a walk, and it was raining, they would always come back with that wet dog smell. The rain can really unleash the wet dog smell! Even though dogs are beautiful animals and adorable when they play in the rain, the smell is too much for many people to stand and are looking for the cause and how to get rid of it.

Dogs smell bad when wet because dog fur contains oils, sebum, dead skin, and bacteria. When hydrated, this mixture releases a bad smell. Rain also carries dirt and bacteria and can be acidic, making the smell worse. Especially bad smells may result from skin conditions that need vet attention.

For more information on why your dog smells bad when it gets wet, as well as ideas for how to get it to stop smelling so bad, keep reading below!

Why do wet dogs smell so bad?

Wet dogs smell bad because of all the dirt, oils, sebum, dead skin, and bacteria on their skin that are getting hydrated by water which causes the smell to enter the air.

Much like a sweaty gym sock or dirty human hair, this damp and humid environment is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria that create foul smells. The longer it is allowed to accumulate, the worse the smell gets. Mould and infection can makes things much worse and exacberate the smell.

Below I linked a post I wrote about wet dog smell after the bath if you are looking for more information on bathing tips and tricks to help with wet dog smell!

Read Now: How to Get Rid of Wet Dog Smell After Bath? Causes Included

Rain doesn’t help, either. It isn’t nearly as clean as most people think it is!

The dust, bacteria, and atmospheric particles rain collects as it falls are so bad that rainwater is actually unsafe to drink. Rain can even become acidic after absorbing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

When your dog’s fur soaks up that rain like a sponge, it activates all the components for a perfect storm to create the wet dog smell.

The wet dog smell is made worse by the rain vs normal water out of a shower, and it can really cling to common surfaces. The wet dog smell can permiate toweles, car seats, rugs, and any other fabric surface they come into contact with.

You’ll need to act fast to dry your dog before it shakes and spreads the stink inside.

Tip; keep a fresh towel outside or in your garage where it is sheltered from the rain so you can towel off your dog before bringing it inside! 

How do you stop wet dog smell after rain?

Stopping the wet dog smell can seem daunting, but it isn’t as bad as you might think.

Just remember that the wet dog smell will never be completely eliminated because as normal, oils, sebum, dead skin, and bacteria will start to accumulate after bathing.

Reducing it to a tolerable and healthy level is the goal.

Preventing the smell before it starts

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The best way to significantly reduce wet dog smell is to keep up regular baths and visits to the groomer, especially if your dog’s breed has tricky coats or a tendency towards skin conditions.

Some dogs that need special attention to professional grooming include:

  • German Shepherds
  • Pomeranians
  • Poodles
  • Any Doodles
  • Westies
  • Bulldogs
  • Hound dogs
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Huskies
  • Samoyeds

Dry skin, skin infections, skin conditions, dandruff, impacted hair, and improperly maintained coats are significant culprits for an exceptionally bad wet dog smell. Checking their skin regularly helps reduce the issue at the source.

And having regular veterinary appointments for a trained professional to look for issues is important! Make sure to bring your fluffy family member in to see their veterinarian on a regular basis.

Shampoos for dogs should be intended for dogs, not people. Their skin and hair need different formulas than human skin, and the two are not interchangeable. Amazon has a wide selection of great dog shampoos to choose from, that are appropriate for your dog’s skincare needs.

If you brush your dog regularly, ensure they’re free of loose or impacted fur, and dry them thoroughly after baths, they’ll be good to go. Long-haired breeds might need a blow dryer set on low to help dry their undercoats, and many owners will opt to send them to a professional groomer.

Below I linked another post I wrote you will find helpful. It is about shedding after baths and important information on grooming before and after a bath.

Read Now: Why Dogs Shed So Much After Bath; Causes, When to Furminate

Remember, a clean dog means a happy dog and a happy owner (and less smells). Even if they don’t love baths, it’s a way to keep your furry friend happy and healthy.

Try to make their baths as positive as possible, and after the bath do something that they love; play with their favourite toy, give them a treat, or take them on a walk… preferably not in the rain.

Dry the dog as soon as possible

The longer the dog stays wet, the greater the chance of skin irritation and bad smells forming. Nobody wants that to happen, so prevention is key.

Have a towel ready to dry your dog as soon as possible. Ideally, you should be able to catch them as soon as you and your dog get shelter from the rain and before the rain has a chance to soak in too deeply.

I found that certain towl tyoes are better than others.

High-absorbancy towels or microfiber towels are the best bets to get your dog dry fast, especially if you’re outdoors, camping, or in another situation that limits access to electricity.

If your dog gets truly soaked or is a long-haired breed, it will benefit from being dried by a blow-dryer on low heat.

Make sure you can dry your dog all the way to the root of the hair, drying the skin as well, so they don’t grow more bacteria and grime from irritation and retained moisture.

If you can’t dry them with a blow dryer and notice some lingering smell, it might be time for a bath or a trip to the groomer. Still, dry them as much as possible with a towel and brush them regularly between trips.

Limit time in the rain

Sometimes dogs need to go out in the rain. They need to go on walks and the bathroom doesn’t change just because it’s raining, as much as both dogs and owners wish it would.

However, limiting time in the rain is justified for your dog’s skin health. For long-coated dogs, in particular, avoiding letting them get soaked in the skin is a good choice. It makes it easier to dry them and reduces the risk of skin irritation.

Go out for just long enough that they can take care of business, then head back indoors where it’s dry. I even knew someone who would take them under a covered area for their dog to go to the bathroom if it was raining to avoid getting them wet.

Can I stop my dog from smelling bad after it gets wet?

Unfortunately, it is impossible to eliminate the wet dog smell completely. The best you can do is reduce the smell and increase coat health through regular grooming and brushing.

Prevention is key for reducing wet dog smell!

Everyone has different smelling sensitivities and tolerances and some people may be more effected by the smell than others.

When to see a vet or groomer about the smell

If your dog smells especially bad, smells “wrong” or mouldy, or has something visibly wrong with its skin, it is time to visit a groomer or a vet about the issue. Skin infections are common in breeds like Labrador Retrievers or German Shepherds, and they can happen despite excellent care by owners.

If this happens, don’t feel too bad! It is more common than you think and can sometimes happen regardless of care.

Get professional care and see if they have advice for your dog’s specific issue. Allergies might even cause your dog’s skin issues!

I hope this information has helped you!

Holly 🙂


Hi! My name is Holly. I am currently the fur mom to my beautiful three ragdoll cats, and I have owned multiple dogs over the years, including Siberian Huskies! To say the least I am experienced with all aspects of pet hair!

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