Eliminating the Wet-Dog Smell

Sometimes towel-drying won’t completely get rid of moisture in your dog’s coat.

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Q. I have three Pembroke Welsh Corgis who love to play in water. I dry them off after each play time but have noticed that after a while the ridges on their backs have a very bad odor. I bathe them once a month but the smell comes back in 1½ weeks. We have not tried to blow-dry them, as they don’t care for that kind of noise. Do you know what could be causing that odor, or how I can eliminate it?

A. Watching those little rascals play under a hose must be hysterically funny! Unfortunately, their odor problem probably stems from the fact that you are not blow-drying them after their water play. You won’t get rid of that musty smell unless you also get rid of the moisture, drying their coats all the way from the skin out. That nasty “wet-dog” smell is caused by a buildup of bacteria, and towel-drying just won’t cut it. I would invest in a “quiet dryer,” a table-top model that is much less noisy than the floor-standing dryers found in grooming salons. They’re great for shy dogs or those who get aggravated by all that noise.

A bad smell can stem from a variety of causes. Some dogs, especially the hound breeds, exude more coat oil than others, causing doggy odor. Retrievers love to roll in any awful-smelling organic material they come across in their daily romps. Bad odors may also have a medical cause such as mange, ear infections, or periodontal disease. Anal glands that need to be emptied also smell pretty funky.

Try experimenting with different blow-dryers to see if there is one your dogs can tolerate. Also, grooming sprays will freshen them up between baths so you won’t need a clothespin on your nose when your furry friends need nuzzling.

Kathy Salzberg, NCMG, is a Certified Master Groomer and writer who has been grooming pets since 1976. With her daughter Missi, she owns The Village Groomer in Walpole, Mass. She has also written extensively on pet care for several consumer magazines and authored three books on dogs and careers with pets. Kathy lives with her pets on Cape Cod.

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Andy   Ontario, Canada, International

12/8/2013 4:38:02 AM

Sounds like good advice, I will try it, thank you !

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J   Mills, NC

4/29/2012 7:10:22 AM

Going hairdryer shopping today. Thanks!

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janet   bethlehem, PA

9/8/2011 4:27:16 AM

good article, thanks

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Betsy   Rutland, MA

8/20/2009 9:24:15 AM

Good to know someone else has a similar problem with their Corgi. Ours loves to swim in our pool. She looks kind of like a little torpedo- and it is adorable. Same problem - she smells horrible. Guess we'll just have to put up with it until we close the pool in the fall!

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