Why Does a Dog Stink After a Bath?

Two puppies receiving a bath in small tub.
Two puppies receiving a bath in small tub. (Image: mj0007/iStock/Getty Images)

It’s not unusual for your dog to smell good when you pick her up from a professional groomer and to still stink after a home bath. Dogs can stink after a bath when they aren't yet dry, aren't completely clean or if they have a medical condition.

The Dog Is Still Wet

A wet dog smell, which is often unpleasant, usually occurs when the dog isn’t sufficiently dried after being wet. Bacteria buildup and oil from the coat make a musty odor on a wet dog. After bathing the dog with a dog shampoo and ensuring he’s clean and free from any odor-causing elements, thoroughly dry him.

A good way to get a dog dry after a bath is to first towel dry him and to then use a blow-dryer. But keep the blow-dryer a few inches from the skin so you don’t burn your dog. Getting rid of the moisture reduces the bacterial buildup that makes him stink.

The Dog Needs Brushing

Unless your dog has rolled in something smelly, such as garbage, feces or worms, you don’t need to bathe her more than once a month. Between baths, it’s useful if you brush her. This helps remove any dirt, dried food, dried feces under the tail or any other debris that might have accumulated in your dog’s coat. If you don’t brush her between baths, you might not get your dog clean when you do bathe her, which could cause her to smell after a bath.

The Dog Needs Spray

Grooming sprays are not substitutes for a bath, but they can help keep a dog smelling fresh between baths. They serve to cleanse and deodorize the coat. You simply apply the spray to a dry coat and work it in.

The Dog Has a Medical Condition

Continued odor problems can indicate that something is medically wrong with the dog. If the dog has a bad odor when his coat is dry, it might be from an ear infection, anal sac issues or dental disease. Dr. Patty Khuly says on Vetstreet that a persistent bad odor could be from a skin condition, such as allergies or parasite infestation, which often leads to smelly yeast infections. A veterinarian can help diagnose any possible problems.

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