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LRUMERY asks: "With the hot weather here, my dog has been swimming almost daily. Although we towel dry her, she now smells very musty! She can stink up a whole room. Despite having a bath (3 times now!) and a blow dry, I cant get the smell out. It is definitely her coat, her ears smell fine. Any suggestions on how to get rid of the smell?"


July 11, 2006 at 9:32 am
(1) donna says:

I am having the same problem with my shepard, It’s so strong that no one wants to be near him! He swims every day and probably never truly dries out. I am at a loss as to what to do.

July 24, 2006 at 3:45 pm
(2) Tom says:

I have a golden retriever that has been having the same ‘musky’ order problem this summer. He has a ‘kiddie’ pool that we keep filled with clean water (to keep him out of our ornamental ponds), and he is always in it.

I don’t understand why he has the problem now, when he did not have a problem during the last two summers.

We have bathed him multiple times this summer – but to no effect. Does not show signs of anal sac issues either.

September 6, 2006 at 4:25 pm
(3) Barbara says:

My shepherd also is in the water all summer and just plain STINKS. Baths don’t do it and sprays smell worse. The only thing that works to any degree is a good brushing and then the ionizer brush. Results don’t last very long.

October 11, 2006 at 7:49 pm
(4) Lori says:

I am having the same problem with my Bergamasco (Italian sheepdog). I use true tea tree oil. This will help, but some people don’t like the smell. I have also heard of baking soda, but I haven’t tried that yet because I can only wash this breed 2-3 times a year.

July 24, 2007 at 11:08 pm
(5) christine says:

yes my dog is a swimmer and one night she went in the pool late in the evening and didnt dry out well…and then she got an odor..i am going to shampoo her with and and fungal and antibacterial shampoo than put 2tsp per gallon warm water and leave that on..and let her dry in the sun. i will post again if this was affective..

July 26, 2007 at 11:39 am
(6) BETH says:

My Golden Retriever has a very thick coat and has had this problem for 3 years. It seems to help to bathe him in listerine and leave it on for about 3-5 minutes, then rinse and shampoo. I bought an industrial dryer off of EBay that dries him thoroughly and fairly quickly. I went to a healthfood store yesterday and she suggested bathing him in a mixture of Chlorophyll and water. She said it’s safe for dogs and humans. She has people that put it in their dogs drinking water as well. I haven’t tried it yet but I did buy the Chlorophyll. I’ll write again if it works.

June 18, 2008 at 5:30 pm
(7) christine says:

hello, i updating on the problem i had last year of the dogs coat getting that rotten smell after swimming in my pool…..all i ended up doing was give her a good shampooing and let her dry in the sun. i also have learned that the dogs coat may never get like that if she is rinsed with fresh water after a swim to get the chlorine off…and dry well before bed time.

June 7, 2010 at 9:05 am
(8) Kelli says:

I have the same problem. That smell that just sort of permeates from inside. If you put your nose right up to her coat you can’t really put your finger on where the smell is coming from and I bathed every day this week all different kinds of concotions to try and get smell out. It only happens when she swims for a few days constantly in the freshwater lake! She has been to the vet, no anal sac or ear infections issues. I just don’t know what else to try. She is a therapy dog and I can’t take her to work smelling like this! Help!

August 25, 2010 at 6:17 pm
(9) deborah says:

my labs have all developed this smell – and I’ve noticed the same smell on other breeds who spend a lot of time in the water. it’s absolutely correct that it’s difficult to pinpoint where the smell is coming from. I used to think it was from the very thick hair around her neck and I started removing her collar when she was swimming or wet (made sense that that kept the area from drying out) I wonder if it has anything to do with the natural oils in their skin reacting to being wet — and my concern is that her skin might be dry or itchy. she swims in a pond, but also in lake michigan and often twice a day. I didn’t see the response to all these notices — it is obviously a problem for lots of people!

September 30, 2010 at 8:35 pm
(10) Samantha says:

I am in the same boat as all of you! our dog has only started smelling since she satrted jumping in the pool.. she swam in streams/lakes and rivers her whole like, but now we live in a hot climate and she dips in the pool 1-2 times a day..she stinks up an entire room.. vet says she is fine.. any solutions here????

July 21, 2011 at 1:04 am
(11) sally says:

Our lab is a swimmer and has developed this sour, unpleasant smell that appears to be mildew or something like this from not thoroughly drying out. I see many others have had the problem but no good solutions are posted. Has anyone found anything to rinse these dogs with that helps? thanks!

July 27, 2011 at 6:14 pm
(12) Kate says:

kelli, I have the EXACT problem that you have with my 4 year old lab. He too is a therapy dog but his odor is getting to be embarrassing for me when he is in the office. He lives almost his entire time in a pond when not at work with me. I think he would sleep in it if he had the option! He emits a very offensive odor (not a fecal smell, more sour, like sally says) that permeates a room and lingers. I have tried washing him with a combo of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and mild dog shampoo- this works for a few hours but then the odor returns in full force and persists. I have tried washing his ears out with vinegar and at other times with salt water but that does nothing either. He has no ear infection or anal sac problem. It’s odd because if you smell his fur, he just smells like “dog” yet the room will reek. This only happens during the summer when he is swimming every day. I have noticed that when I take him to the ocean, where he also swims non-stop, he has no odor (well, unless he has rolled in some dead thing on the beach!). It’s discouraging that there are so many of us dealing with this problem but there don’t seem to be any satisfying explanations or solutions for it.

August 5, 2011 at 4:35 pm
(13) Matt says:

My wife and I had the same problem with our labradoodle. She loves to swim and is in the river twice a day. After swimming in the spring for a couple days in a row we noticed that our dog was smelling like old moldy cheese. Shampooing only removed the smell temporarily. The vet suggested that we clip her coat short as the coat was so long and thick that her coat was not drying out and was getting a bacterial infection on her skin. Once we clipped her coat the problem went away.

August 10, 2011 at 9:37 pm
(14) Inge says:

I am always looking for a solution as we have the exact problem with our lab swimming in the lake every day in the summer. It is exactly how you all describe it, you can’t pin point where it is coming from, but the odor just emits. One thing that might help is using the FURDry wearable microfiber towel that you leave on the dog to help dry them better. Try bathing them using antibacterial soap with some white vinegar; towel dry dog as much as possible; put on the FURDry to help draw out the remainder of the moisture. This will help but the dog must be dried entirely each time after the swim! Good luck!

March 31, 2013 at 7:59 am
(15) Keti says:

I also find this problem with my golden retriever when she has been swimming in the chlorinated pool, she smells really musty even after being washed with tap water. I believe the chlorine caused a type of skin infection as the skin on her back went bumpy, it may have been the shampoo. But I have found a solution – that works for us. This works every time – letting her swim fully immersed in the ocean or sea, the salt water seems to balance out the skin and gets rid of the smell. Its best to allow the skiin to be exposed to the salt water for an hour or so, let the dog swim and then rinse off with tap water. Maybe a very small touch of mild shampoo.

June 9, 2013 at 6:11 pm
(16) Kazzy says:

Try chlorine shampoo. My dog smells from the pool and gets a build up of chlorine on his coat. Regular shampoo will not work to break down the chemicals.

July 10, 2013 at 4:20 pm
(17) Holly says:

I’ve tried everything as listed above in your comments…baking soda, powder, vinegar, changing bedding daily, washing daily….but our dog stunk anyway. I noticed that ocean swimmers didn’t develop smells until they moved to inland pools. I also saw that chlorine-rid shampoos were somewhat successful. So I have tried the following–very successfully!!
Rinse dog after chlorine swim.
Wash once a week or so with a chlorine out shampoo or an anti-residue shampoo.
If it is a non-wash day, after rinsing, I pour a gallon of mineral salt water over dog as final rinse–I figure the salts are effective at combating chlorine, similar to the ocean effect.
Then I chamois off the dog…I do not spend enough time to completely dry, when the chamois is wet I leave well enough alone. I suppose I spend 2 minutes in the drying process. It would take an hour or more to dry this fur of hers!
I have also read that the swim spray used to combat chlorine smells on humans is ascorbic acid (vitamin C). I have not tried this as final rinse, but I suppose it will work similar to the salt rinse.
She’s happy, her fur is nice, no problems and no smells!
Since I tried this all together, I cannot isolate one trick as more successful. I have noticed that if I don’t rinse the dog because we’ve had a long day, the smell creeps in, even if I have dried. Drying, even a little, is key, I believe. But without getting the chlorine out at least once a week or even more often with rinses, the smell will creep back in. But the smell does not get as vicious as before just washing and all the other tricks–which in themselves, stunk!.
Hope this helps…I’ve been dealing with this at least three years…the lab never smelled, but the mutt is a stinker! I live in the Mojave Desert in California. Not swimming is not an option.
I appreciated all your comments…it helped me build a plan.
Good luck! This is a terribly awkward situation for homeowners and dog lovers..

July 30, 2013 at 1:46 pm
(18) Heathr says:

We have the same problem with our German Shepherd. She’s fine all the time except after getting really wet, whether by walk in the rain, rolling in snow, chasing sticks in the lake, swimming with the kids…

The only thing we’ve found is to wash her thoroughly, getting down to the undercoat/skin or you’ve just wasted all your time, and rinse thoroughly, again right down to the undercoat. We use a shampoo for sensitive skin because our breed should only be washed 2 times per year. Then after a good drying in the sun, we brush her out 2x a day for 2 days with the furminator brush which takes out the loose undercoat. This helps to remove the musty fur that is left behind and keeps the dog hair in our house to a minimum.

In between washings, we keep up with the brushing and use a dry shampoo that is sprayed on – similar to Fabreeze, but is a dry shampoo made for dogs – do not use Fabreeze! Because it’s surface spray it only lasts about a week, but it’s better than trying to keep her out of the water which she absolutely loves.

Good Luck

August 5, 2013 at 9:52 pm
(19) Kris says:

Selsun blue is the only thing we have found to help a very stinky, water loving chesapeak. He gets that musty oil stench every summer that never goes away once it starts.
I went to the pet store to get a heavy duty shampoo and the girl working thre told me to try Selsun blue.
Her dog had the problem and her vet told her this trick.
If a dogs coat doesn’t dry quickly, bacteria will grow on the dogs skin. Regular shampoos do not kill the bacteria.
Shampoo the dog with a heavy lather and let it sit for about 10 minutes before you rinse it off.
Try it. It’s amazing.

August 10, 2013 at 6:11 pm
(20) thachtor says:

We have had 3 golden retrievers and have a lakeside cottage where our dogs swim any time there is not ice covering the lake. Our best solution is to wet the dog, then rinse her in a solution of vinegar and water (1 1/2 cups of vinegar to 1 1/2 gal of water. We work it into her coat and then let her loose for about an hour. Then we shampoo her in an antifungal shampoo we bought from our vet, working it in thoroughly, then rinsing her thoroughly, and finally drying her as well as we can. It seems to work well, UNLESS she goes back in the water in the coming days … then the smell returns and we go through the cycle again.

August 12, 2013 at 7:09 pm
(21) Bev says:

Can’t wait to try these two ideas on my stinky dog! Thanks for sharing.
BTW, it cracks me up that the DVM who’s pic is on this article never comments!

August 12, 2013 at 8:40 pm
(22) vetmedicine says:

This is a forum post spotlight from 2006, posted from the (soon to be discontinued) forum. The main purpose of these posts is to gather reader opinions, tips, stories.

September 15, 2013 at 1:31 pm
(23) Kallie says:

4 years ago I spent hundreds of $$ taking my black lab to the vet to find out why she smelled sour. One said ear infection, another that it was her glands, etc. and after trying all the treatments, she still reeked! And also, I would smell her whole body, but could never pinpoint the area. I finally figured out it is coming from her skin which stays damp for so long even after her fur dries. For a short haired dog, it sure is thick!! I have to warn people before they pet her, that she stinks. I tell them it is like when you leave a load of wet towels in the washer overnight and they get that sour smell. It is really embarrasing.

Over the last few summers the only thing that works is taking her to the groomer and they wash and dry her completely 2x. The skin has to be completely dry to eliminate the smell. Sounds somewhat easy but it is pricey and I don’t want to have it done until the end of swimming season or it is a waste. So we have to put up with that sour smell in our house all summer. It is so nasty, every time she moves you get a whiff.

I checked this site to see if there was a quicker treatment. We have been washing her on and off through the summer and took her to a self serve wash which has helped a bit, but the smell is still there. I am going to try a combo of all the above ideas and hope for the best!! She can’t stand for long periods of time anymore, so the groomers are not an option this year.

I am thankful to hear that I am not alone, but am hoping that someone finds a miracle odour cure, soon!!!!

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