Why Does My Dog Smell After Being Outside?

One of the most important things you can do for your dog is taking them out for walks.

A daily walk helps relieve stress, get rid of pent-up energy, and burn calories. It also provides mental stimulation, which is just as vital to a dog’s well-being as physical exercise. And it strengthens the bond between you–getting more time together outside will make you feel closer to your pet in no time!

But there is one problem with owning a dog that sometimes troubles owners: their foul odor when they come back home after a walk or playing outside for a while! It’s not uncommon for people to think it’s because of some sort of health issue or even neglect on the owner’s part. But in reality, this smell is almost always caused by something very different than what people assume; in fact, it happens when your pup encounters some pretty common substances during its daily walks around town.

So, if your dog smells bad after being outside and you can’t figure out why – take a look at what they’ve been rolling in. This could be dirt from the yard or poop. If it’s not one of these things, then there might be another underlying issue with their health that is causing them to smell so badly! Your best bet will be to bring him/her into your vet for an examination and diagnosis.

Learn the reasons behind that unpleasant odor and what to do about it below:

Why Does My Dog Smell After Being Outside

Dogs have a unique way of perspiring. They do not sweat the same as humans do. Rather, they emit light perspiration from their hair follicles which has a chemical scent that is individual to the dog.

Dogs have their own distinctive smell, which humans do not detect. This smell is not the same to each dog. They also produce oil, which is a key factor of healthy skin and hair which has its own scent marker and glands in their ears that produce a yeasty smell.

There are a number of reasons why your dog might smell after being outside.

Rolling in the dirt

No doubt a dog does seem to smell a lot nicer after a bath, but it may not be by choice. The artificial fragrance of pet shampoo is a pleasure for us humans, but for them is just one of the most disgusting smells. A dog will always yearn for is to be recognized as a true wolf and have their natural scent back rather than having something artificial forced on them.

The reason that dogs roll in the dirt is unknown. but it could be out of a hunting instinct whereby they roll in dead things, feces and rotting organic matter to mask their scent and sneak up on prey. Others think that it is a way to impress other canines.

Sometimes it’s because they have an itch that needs to be scratched; but other times, they may be acting on their primal instincts. Regardless of the reason, they won’t stop until they get their way.

Natural body scent

While considered healthy, dogs do have a natural body odor that is there to mark their territory. Dogs excrete their odor from around the ears and through the soles of their feet. The dog’s glands in the ears produce a specific scent. If your dog’s ears start to smell really bad, it could indicate a bacterial or fungal infection.

Dog hair is made up of hollow shafts that can absorb air and the scents in the air. Fur can also absorb these scents because it has a natural undercoat. If your dog has a lot of fur, they are more likely to produce a bad smell than those with little or no hair.

Wet dog smell

Dogs are just like humans in that they have microbes on their skin like yeast and bacteria. These microorganisms produce chemical compounds which are mostly not noticeable when the dog is dry, but in the form of dampness, they are strong in odor.

The odor of a wet dog can vary depending on how often they are bathed, if they spend time outside, what they particularly like to roll in. The odor of wet dogs can also depend on allergens, dermatitis, or yeast infections. 

Most dogs have different body chemistry than humans, which produces smells that may be strange or off-putting to owners. When mixed with water, the results are amplified.

In order to avoid this type of thing from happening, it’s important that you thoroughly dry your dog using either the sun or a blower so as not to let those compounds separate from their fur.

Skunk Smell

Skunk spray is a defense mechanism for the skunk when it comes in contact with a predator. It’s a type of oil that is produced by the anal glands. It contains sulfurous chemicals called thiols or thioacetates that usually bind to proteins in your dog’s skin. This can result in a persistent odor. Thioacetates are not as potent as thiols, but they do convert to them when mixed with water.

The first instinct of many pet owners who find their dogs skunked is to bring them into the house and take them for a bath. This should not be done. It would be best if you treated your dog outside when they have skunk spray on them, which will prevent the smell from permeating your home.

Skunk oil can linger for up to a year if it is not effectively removed from your dog’s skin and coat. Cleaning your dog quickly after a skunk incident is crucial.

Rolling in Garbage

There are several explanations of why dogs like to coat themselves with strong odors and one is that this is a way of fighting parasites. However, it does not seem to deter insects and they may even be attracted to such smells as it usually means there is decomposing organic matter there.

Therefore, it has been suggested that this is a way for the dogs to communicate with the pack’s other members. Dogs also seem to enjoy rolling in bad-smelling things, but what they choose to anoint themselves with is always organic. This could be because their wild ancestors were both hunters and scavengers, so some of what they are rolling in is still edible.

Dogs are known to roll non-bearded materials in order to pick up their scent. The other members of the pack are able to identify the scent, which leads them to believe that there might be food nearby. However, when a dog gets back to the pack with its new scent, it’s not common for it to cause the other dogs in the pack to track back towards where he came from.

Anal Glands

Anal sacs are glands hidden inside the rectum of dogs that release a small amount of secretion during defecation in a healthy individual with a strong musky odor. The secretion is for the benefit of other animals and it helps them identify each other.

Some dogs may have a problem with their anal sacs where they will not drain because of a blockage, which causes them to swell and become painful. The dog that is experiencing this will typically bite and lick around the area, exposing the glands to infection and abscess. This needs to be taken to a vet as soon as possible as it is not something that can be dealt with at home.

Rolling in poop

Your dog may be rolling in poop to try and hide his own scent. Dogs used to have to hunt for their food, but now they are able to get it easily from the owner. Poop smells like prey so by rolling in it, the dog can disguise its own smell and chase dinner without scaring it away.

The scent found on the dog’s fur can be followed back to the animal’s location. This technique is very similar to how some animals use their sense of smell in order to find food. The theory behind this is that the dog communicates with their “pack” or at least you, by rolling around in a smelly mess.

Basically, your dog might be trying to leave his own scent behind. This could be something as simple as marking territory or communicating to other dogs that this is your dog’s area.

Other Reasons Why Your Dog Might Smell Bad

Ear Infection

Many types of bacteria and yeast can cause ear infections. Even if a dog’s ears usually have good defenses, they may experience them more often If your dog has allergies or hormonal imbalances. The ears of dogs with floppy or hairy ears, such as Basset Hounds and Springer Spaniels may also be prone to ear infections unless their ears are kept clean and dry.


Atopy is a condition of the skin where the sufferer has an allergic reaction to a specific irritant. This can cause inflammation and an excess of oil production by some glands, leading to a musty smell. The poor diet can also lead to other health problems such as yeast infections, which also give off a foul odor. These are often caused by a high-carbohydrate and processed food diet. Changing to protein-rich, non-processed dog food or trying out some allergy tablets for dogs can often help with this.

Skin Infection

There are many breeds of dogs that are prone to skin fold dermatitis because of the fact that they have wrinkly skin, which provides a perfect environment for an overgrowth of surface microbes. The organisms produce toxins which cause irritation and inflammation, leading to skin barrier breakdown and infection.

Allergies in dogs can either manifest as itchy skin or watery eyes and sneezing. If your dog is itching, licking, and chewing its skin, the outer layer of the skin is being traumatized, which leads to breaks in the skin that let bacteria enter. As a result, your pup will get a stinky infection.


Gas, or flatulence, is a common problem in dogs and can often be solved by changing the diet. In most cases, switching to a diet that is grain-free or fish-based will help the problem. If the problem persists, it may be due to an underlying medical issue that needs to be tested for.

How to prevent your dog from stinking outside

There are many ways to try and stop the rolling in the dirt. If your dog is prone to getting dirty, it’s best to keep the dog on a leash so you can prevent this from happening.

In most dogs, rolling in poop is a natural response to the smell of the excrement. Once a dog smells the odor from a pile of poop, it can’t resist. Almost all dogs do a pre-roll pose before they dive into it. Once you see this behavior, you need to stop them quickly with a strong “leave it” cue.

There are a few things that you can do to avoid having a skunk interact with your dog. For example, make sure to close all trash cans and take away any outside food bowls. If there is fallen fruit from your trees or bushes in the yard, it would be best to clear that up. You should also ensure that your dog doesn’t go out after dusk when skunks are most active.

How to make your dog smell good after playing outside

If your pup needs a freshen up after playing outside, here are some ideas to help you make them feel clean and fresh.

Change in diet

There are a number of dietary modifications that can be made to help with dry skin. Changing the diet to one that has more fatty acids or adding fatty acid supplements might do the trick.

A dog with dry skin should not be bathed with shampoo, but instead groomed gently with soft brushes and powders that will help clean the hair while neutralizing odors.

Bathing Your Dog

The wet dog smell comes from your dog’s skin that stays moist underneath its thick coat. Bathing your dog once a day may not be feasible for you, and it is also harsh on his skin. If your dog swims or bathes, dry their skin with a hairdryer.

The pup may be sensitive to the fragrances in a shampoo. The best option is a dog shampoo which is gentle and designed for dogs, and is used once a month.

You should only do a thorough bath for your dog on a monthly basis unless they like to roll around in mud and dead animals.

Regular use of wet wipes may also be better for your dog. They provide a quick and easy alternative to a daily bath but make sure to avoid the part of the eye.

Wiping a dog’s paws when they come in from outside can help to prevent them from smelling and bringing smells into your home.

Dry dog shampoos

Another option is a no-rinse dry shampoo that will keep your dog clean and smelling great without the time or hassle of a bath. Dry shampoo helps remove any odors from your pet’s coat as well as keeping their skin and fur healthy.

Too much dry shampoo can be harmful to your dog’s skin, hair follicles and natural hair growth.

Clean your dog’s bed

As with any pet, it is essential to keep the area that your dog spends time in clean. Dog beds and blankets can collect a lot of dirt, debris, and animal hair over time. Regularly wash these items, especially after your dog gets them dirty from playing outside. This will help keep your dog smelling better too.

Brush Your Dog

Regular brushing will help to keep your dog clean and smelling fresh. Brushing your dog is an act of love which will help him to live a healthier, happier life.

Brushing removes loose hair and skin cells that can lead to tangles in the fur while also distributing natural oils from sebaceous glands on the skin. These oils keep the coat shiny and healthy by acting as a waterproof coating for the hair shafts. Brushing also stimulates blood flow to all parts of the body. This has been shown to reduce any inflammation or pain caused by arthritis or other conditions related to reduced circulation.

Clean your dog’s ears

Dog ears are prone to yeast growth and mites. Bacteria can also grow in the dog’s ears before it becomes irritating enough for the dog or its owner to notice it.

To clean your dog’s ears regularly, soak a cotton pad or cotton ball in a gentle ear cleanser for dogs or normal hydrogen peroxide and use it to clean the inner ear of any excess wax. Or clean your dog’s ears by putting baby oil on a cotton ball and wiping your dog’s ears. Start from the inside of the ear and work to the outside.

Some individuals may worry that they are harming their pets when removing the hair from a dog’s ear, but this is not true. Hairy-eared dogs will need to be groomed to avoid wax, mites, and bacteria buildup in the ears.

Dogs and Skunks

First, you should remove all oil from your dog’s coat as soon as possible, and then try either an outdoor bath or a separate space like a garage or barn. After this, you would have to give them a tomato juice bath which is a common household remedy, although it has limited success. Today, there are products on the market which are more effective for removing the smell, or you can make an alternative with products found at home by using a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution with 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap.

It is best to not leave the solution on your dog for too long as it may bleach their fur. It also requires repeated use in order to get rid of the smell, but one of the old-time remedies, such as diluted vinegar may also be used if you don’t have any ingredients at home. After this, Shampoo your dog with a regular or skunk dog shampoo and let it dry in a warm room.

Final Thoughts

It is important to know why your dog smells bad after being outside so you can take appropriate steps for each problem. For example, if it’s a natural body scent that has been exacerbated by the hot weather then just let them air dry and get some fresh water or food when they come in from playing outside. If there is an underlying infection such as ear mites, atopy (allergic skin disease), or a bacterial skin infection, then you’ll need to go see the vet ASAP because these conditions will only worsen without treatment!

Why Does My Dog Get a Bad Odor After Being Outdoors

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