Why Do Dogs Smell Bad After Being Outside?

Did you let your dog play outdoors only to come back with a smell enough to knock you out? It’s a fact that dogs stink, and they have a distinct scent. But why do dogs smell bad after being outside? Ambient odors are one of the reasons why.

Outdoor odors could stick to your dog’s fur as it runs around, causing them to stink even after a bath. Below, I discussed more possible reasons why your doggo always ends up smelly after a trip outdoors:

why do dogs smell bad after being outside

Why Do Dogs Smell Bad After Being Outside? 6 Possible Reasons

dog smells bad

  • Ambient odors

Ambient odors outdoors will stick to your dog’s fur easily. In turn, it will cause a bad smell, even after your dog has only been outdoors for just a few minutes.

It’s possible that air pollution is high and your dog has a very fluffy coat. Pair that with a little moisture, and your dog will surely stink after being outside.

It’s also possible that your dog rolled on the ground where animal poop and dirt are found. The gross matter and its smell will attach to your dog’s coat.

This would become worse if your dog decided to soak in a nearby pond or lake before rolling on the dirt. Aside from being smelly, this will also make your dog extremely dirty, and due for a bath.

  • Garbage

One of the main culprits of the awful dog smell is garbage. It’s possible that your dog went dumpster diving into your garbage bin.

Your dog probably searched for some smelly leftovers as the garbage wipes on its fur. In turn, your dog gets the smell of the garbage.

Aside from its smelly coat, your dog’s breath will also stink after chewing on garbage. The biggest concern here is the possibility of poisoning if there are toxic items in the garbage.

As much as possible, you must supervise your dog outdoors to prevent the pooch from snacking on trash.

  • Animal scents

One time, my dog Sherlock came rushing to the door, smelling like rotten eggs. We later found out that he had an encounter with a skunk in the yard.

The skunk smell is overpowering and will attach to a dog’s fur for quite a long.

It’s important to bathe your pooch right away to remove the awful smell and the irritation it may cause. Even if it’s not a direct hit, the skunk smell will seep through the dog’s fur.

If there’s no skunk nearby, stinkbugs might be the ones to blame. It smells like weird cucumber and cilantro combined. It’s repulsive, and it will stick to your dog’s coat after being outside.

  • Microorganisms on dog fur

Does your dog still smell bad even if there are no stink bugs or garbage involved? The microorganisms on its coat might be the reason why.

Dog hair compounds are the reason behind the distinct ‘wet doggy smell’. It’s a combination of microorganisms in your dog’s coat, volatile compounds, and moisture. As the water mixes with the compounds on your dog’s coat, it unleashes the smell.

If your dog went outside in light rain or has soaked in a puddle, it will develop a bad smell. Take note that the compounds responsible for the smell vary.

It can be anywhere from Benzaldehyde, Phenol, p-Cresol, and whatnot. Anyway, I don’t want to bore you with chemistry.

  • Anal sacs

Anal sacs are one of the main reasons why a dog stinks so badly. It can happen indoors and outdoors if you don’t clean the scent sacs found on their rear ends.

Anal sacs are marking glands, and they can get impacted. When it happens, the gland will become painful and extremely smelly. The smell will be released, and it will stick to your dog’s coat.

If your dog is dragging its butt on the ground, it might be having issues with its anal sacs. You have to clean it or ask for the help of a veterinarian. This will remove the source of the smell but take note that anal sacs require regular cleaning.

  • Skin infections

You should also consider the potential of a skin infection. Skin infections will worsen if your dog is exposed to irritants outside. Also, the smell will become stronger as your dog contracts pollution and ambient smell.

The bad smell of your dog will not subside unless you get the skin infection treated.

Aside from the bad smell, the infection will affect your dog’s overall health.

Why Does My Dog Smell So Doggy?

To be fair, dogs have a distinct smell, just like human bodies smell. Since canines don’t have pores, they usually sweat on their paws.

Their skin also produces oil, which can get smelly if you let the dog outside.

Aside from that, dogs have multiple scent glands on its body, which it uses to mark their territory. This is one of the reasons why dogs have a distinct ‘doggy smell’.

Also, your dog might be due for a bath. Most dogs don’t need frequent bathing, except if they have skin problems or get really dirty.

However, it’s important to give the pooch regular baths every quarter. You should also use the right dog shampoo to neutralize the odors and kill bacteria.

What To Do With Awful Dog Smell?

If your dog went outside and got smelly, you should do the following to clean him up:

  • Give a bath

 The easiest solution to remove the smell of your dog is to give it a quick bath. If your dog got hit by a skunk, a bath is much needed. You have to rinse off the substance on your dog’s coat to neutralize the smell and avoid any irritations.

  • Use a no-rinse shampoo

 If a bath isn’t feasible, you can apply a no-rinse, dry shampoo on your dog’s coat. You should follow it with a good brush to remove any dirt and dust that have accumulated on its coat.

  • Get your dog checked

 If your dog’s smell isn’t going away after a bath, a check with the vet is the best solution. Its anal sac might be impacted, or your dog is suffering from a skin infection.

All of these have to be treated immediately to prevent a bad smell. 

  • Brush your dog

brush dog

 If your dog’s smell isn’t too overpowering, a quick brush will make a big difference. It will remove dirt on their coat, which could be causing a bad smell.

How To Stop Your Dog From Smelling Bad After Going Outside?

If you want to stop your dog from getting smelly outside, you can do the following preventive measures:

  • Keep it leashed

 Dogs are curious beings, and they can get smelly if you let them roam the yard freely. As much as possible, keep the dog leashed until you’ve removed any possible source of bad smell.

  • Clean up your yard

 Never let your dog have access to the garbage bin or any smelly substance in your yard. Patch up puddles and seal the trash bin.

  • Put up a fence

If stray animals bring the smell to your dog, a fence will help reduce the contact. It will also limit your dog’s reach to any smelly substance beyond your yard.

  • Wipe your dog

 After your dog has gone outside, see to it that you wipe its body and paws before letting it in. This will remove dirt and smell that may spread in your home.

  • Keep them dry

Before you let your dog outside, make sure that you dry their fur first. This will prevent dirt from sticking and causing a bad smell. Also, it may not be a good idea to bring your dog outside right after a bath. If you want your dog to enjoy some time outdoors, do so before the scheduled bath.

Can A Dog Smell Bad After A Bath?

dog smell bad after bath

Although it is expected that a dog would smell good after a good shampooing, sometimes a dog may stink bad even after a bath. The reason could be in the skin, ear, or anal gland of the dog.

If you look closely you may notice skin infection causing a bad odor. Allergy is manifested by skin flakiness and redness.

An infection in the ear may occur if some material gets lodged in the ear canal which may become a cause bad odor. Last but not the least, blocked anal glands can be a reason.



Why do dogs smell bad after being outside? It can be anything from outdoor scents, trash, animal scent, and other elements.

What matters is that you clean your dog immediately to prevent the scent from spreading in your home. Also, the smell may indicate a possible infection, which you have to address immediately.

I hope the information from this article will help you take better care of your dog. Thank you for reading!

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