Welcome to the newest edition of The Why. “Why do wet dogs stink?” you ask? Good question. Timely too. (Besides, it beats answering the question: “Why do girls in Mexico date donkeys?” Yeah, we cleaned up that question and still can’t quite figure out how to answer the question and maintain our Google Disney G-rating, mmmkay?)
Despite the hype behind a newly released video published by a major competitor, your researchin’ writer had a source for this question a long time ago, boys and girls. (Our response will be more complete and hopefully more entertaining as well.)
Dr David Williams from the Veterinary School at the University of Cambridge reported that things smell because molecules “leave the smelly objects and get to your nose through the air and that means that these molecules must be very small and volatile. That’s to say they must be easily evaporated.”
He specifies: “The chemicals that make dogs smell are mostly what we call volatile organic acids and they are produced by bacteria from the fats that are breaking down from sweat; and that’s maybe why we find these body odors unpleasant. They signal a presence of bacteria and decay and death to us.” The dogs’ skins “have Staphylococcal bacteria, which don’t produce much in the way of a smell at all, but they’ve also got some yeasts too which are really spongy.”
Still, why do wet dogs stink? Why do they smell worse when wet?
Williams elaborates: “The amount of evaporation of a substance is related to the concentration of the compound on a surface it’s evaporating from and the amount of compound that’s in the air, just above the surface. If the organic acids are dissolved in water on the fur of the wet dog, as the water evaporates, the concentration of those smelly acids increases, so they’ll evaporate more, so there are more molecules in the air for us to smell.”
“Diana”, contributor to TheNakedScientists website reiterates that the “evaporation can effectively amplify the amount of volatile chemicals that emanate from a dog’s skin, and Dr. Williams thinks it’s the same effect that causes that damp earth smell when it rains.”
The new video from the American Chemical Society confirms that wet dogs stink because of “the tiny microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast that live on a dog. The director and writer of the video, Kirk Zamieroski, agrees. “These organisms excrete stinky volatile compounds. When your dog gets wet, the water displaces and liberates these organic volatile molecules from the surface of the dog’s fur, allowing them to find their way right into your nose.”
Why do wet dogs stink? Now you know.
You ask the questions. We provide the answers.
American Live Wire . . . Listen and be heard.