Cottage Q&A: De-stink a smelly dog

A golden retriever dog lying in a mud puddle By mis1il/Shutterstock

We have a smelly dog. What could I use to get rid of the sour stench? He’s a lake-loving labradoodle, with no other health issues. The smell only appears after he starts swimming non-stop in the lake.—Diana Spetz, via e-mail

Unfortunately, it’s not an easy scent to banish, say our experts, and it’s especially rank when the dog is wet. “I know exactly what she’s talking about,” says Ruth Goodwin, the owner of Aragon Pet Grooming in Seguin Township. “It tends to happen in this area, especially when the water warms up.”

Fido’s fur coat, which traps bacteria and organic matter from the water, is the problem. “Dog hair is quite conducive to absorbing stuff,” explains Jeff Simmons, a vet at Peterborough Pet Hospital.

Goodwin recommends you keep your pooch’s fur short. “That allows the coat and skin to dry out more quickly.” And when he gets out of the water for the day, try rubbing baking soda or cornstarch into his coat when it’s still slightly damp, and then brushing it out. “That’ll help keep the smell down…at least until the dog swims again.”

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Similarly, Simmons suggests a lanolin-based deodorant spray or an oatmeal-based non-soap cleanser (you can find them both at pet stores). “These products bind to the hair and mask the smell,” he says.

But they won’t eradicate it. Only bathing will do that. Of course, too many baths with soap-based shampoo can strip the dog’s natural oils and leave the skin dry and itchy. “But if the smell is so bad that you can’t let the dog into the cottage, then, by all means, give him a bath,” says Goodwin.

Though Post-Lake Dog Stink is a common phenomenon, its pungency can depend on your lake and your dog breed. Labradoodles and other dogs with thick coats are the reekiest.

“That’s the problem with these dogs,” says Simmons. “They’re really good at bringing in smell.” Now, if only they were really good at bringing in the newspaper too…

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This article was originally published in the April 2013 issue of Cottage Life magazine.

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