Top 7 reasons why dogs smell after going outside

There are plenty of reasons your dog smells after being outside, including sweat, rolling in animal poop, and getting wet. But did you know your pup’s fur can retain even the slightest scent? From pollution to trash, many odors can get trapped in your pet’s coat making for one smelly dog when you come home. 

If you’ve ever got back from a walk only to be met with a stale dog smell, you’re not alone! This blog post will dive into how this happens and the steps you can take to reduce that stink!

Reasons why dogs smell after going outside

Smells stick to your dog’s coat

As mentioned above, your dog’s coat can retain even the slightest scent. Dog’s fur contains a whole lot of surface area, meaning when they’re outside in the park having fun, their coat picks up every smell they’ve been near or touched. Your dog’s coat holds scent more than human skin does, which is why you’re left with one smelly pup when you get home.

Sweat when exercising

Although dogs primarily perspire from their paws, a slight amount of sweat is released from their hair follicles. The scent your canine companion has is individual to them and, in the wild, would allow them to mark their territory with. Have you ever noticed when you get home after a walk that your dog rolls around on your sofa or carpet? That’s their way of spreading their scent, marking your home as their own.

Rolled in animal poop

Dogs, by nature, are territorial animals, and much like their wolf ancestors, they may occasionally roll around in animal poop as a way to override that animal’s scent, marking the territory as its own. There’s no doubt about it; when your dog has rolled in animal poop, it absolutely stinks and can be a traumatic experience for you but trust us, with a little elbow grease, you can get that stench out! If your dog is prone to rolling in things, it shouldn’t try keeping them on a short lead when out and about.

Skunk spray

Dogs are hunters by nature – they use their noses to discover the parks and woods around their local neighborhood, always sniffing out the next exciting treat. But, if a Skunk happens to have been in your neighborhood or back yard, rest assured your dog will pick up on its scent. Meaning that even if your dog hasn’t come into contact with a skunk, their coat will pick up their scent. Your dog doesn’t have to do much for the skunk’s scent to attach to their fur either; just being in the area is enough for it to make its way onto it. 

They’ve been in water

Unfortunately, your dog’s fur can trap bacteria from water. If they’ve had fun swimming around a pond in the forest, your dog’s coat may absorb some material from the water, such as soil, animal waste, bacteria, algae, or other debris. As your dog dries off, debris may latch onto their coat, leaving that wet dog smell we’re all too familiar with. 

Anal sac problems

Anal sacs are two tiny glands positioned on either side of your dog’s bottom. They release a fine, foul-smelling liquid when your dog poops. Sometimes dogs can suffer from anal sac infections and inflammation after playing with other dogs, which leads to excessive secretion of oil from the anal sac glands making your dog smell. 

If you’ve noticed your pet licking their rear end more than usual or have noticed them scooting their bottom across the floor to itch it, schedule an appointment with your local veterinarian to get your dog checked out. 

Allergies; skin conditions

If you’ve noticed your dog is particularly smelly after a walk and the smell hasn’t gone away after a few hours like it normally would, your pooch may have picked up a bacterial infection of the skin. Most infections are caused by allergens such as flea bites, pollen, dust mites, or mold, so if you suspect your canine companion has a skin infection, it’s always best to consult your local vet. 

How to stop dogs smelling after going outside

Having a stinky puppy after going outside is something many dog owners signed up for when they got their beloved pet, but sometimes the stench can be unbearable. Below we look at some ways you can prevent your dog from getting smelly on walks and how you can combat it in your home. 

Purchase a dog coat for walks

Although this won’t stop the stench after a walk, you can invest in a dog coat as a preventative measure. One of the simplest methods to combat the post-walk dog odor is by purchasing a coat for your dog. It can be popped on before a walk and taken off as soon as you get home. There are so many great options out there when it comes to dog coats – from budget-friendly anoraks in bold colors to super expensive waxed fabrics to keep your dog dry in the most torrential conditions. 

The main thing is that the coat acts as a barrier (like the coats we use) between your dog’s fur and the elements, preventing the chance of smells on your dog’s fur.

Bathe them

This may be the most obvious solution for a stinky dog, but it isn’t always the easiest! Before you rush to pop your pooch in a lovely bubble bath, remember that most vets recommend only bathing your dog once per month to not irritate their skin. 

If your dog has rolled in something particularly unpleasant, we recommend a dog bath using high-quality shampoo as this usually resolves an unpleasant smell quickly. Ensure you dry them off thoroughly after a bath; otherwise, you could end up with a wet dog smell. 

Give them a hair cut

The more fur your dog has, the more surface area there is to carry smells in it. An easy and effective way to reduce the surface area of your dog’s coat is by giving them a trim. If you’re brave, you can do this yourself, but we would always recommend going to a professional dog groomer to ensure your dog’s coat is kept in top condition. 

Clean your dog’s collar and lead

Scents can linger on your dog’s collar and lead, so it’s important that after every couple of walks, you give them a quick rinse off with some dog-friendly cleanser and allow them to dry thoroughly. This ensures no nasty scents latch back onto your dog’s fur from the lead, and your lead is kept sparkling clean at all times. 

Dry them thoroughly

There’s nothing worse than the musty wet dog smell after a torrential downpour, so it’s important you dry your dog thoroughly before letting them run around your house. There are a number of dog-specific towels on the market that are quick-drying, allowing you to give your dog a good dry after playing in the rain. 

You don’t need to purchase a special dog towel, though; any regular bath towel will work in drying them off after a wet walk. Either way, ensure you dry their top fur, legs, and paws to stop that wet dog smell. 

If a towel isn’t drying your dog off as thoroughly as you’d like, you can always try a hairdryer. You want to make sure you have it on the coolest and lowest possible setting and stand a few feet away from your dog to ensure they don’t get tangled up or hurt. 

Should I be concerned about my dog smelling after going outside?

Unless your canine companion is secreting a terrible stench that you can’t get rid of or is displaying signs of an infection, a smelly dog typically isn’t something to be concerned about. If anything, it’s perfectly normal for your dog to smell a bit. Nonetheless, if your dog is stinking out your house, it can get frustrating. 

If you want to reduce your dog’s smelling after a walk, we suggest following the steps we’ve outlined above. If you are still worried, you should take your dog to the vet to be on the safe side. 


Almost all dogs are going to smell a bit after going outside. Thankfully, it is usually nothing to worry about and is something that affects the majority of dogs. By understanding that our dog’s fur clings to scents from the environment, it will help us understand how we can manage and prevent certain smells – from investing in a dog coat to keeping them on a short lead. The steps we’ve outlined above should help reduce those post-walk smells and allow you to enjoy every minute with your canine companion. 

If you do suspect something could be seriously wrong with your dog, or there’s a smell that hasn’t gone away for a number of days, it’s always best to consult your local vet for help. They can identify any risks and ensure your dog is kept happy and healthy no matter what.