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longgone's avatar

Any idea why my Labrador smells like a wet dog, but only on his back?

Asked by longgone (19157points) 2 months ago

Wilson has smelled good all his life. We moved in July, and since August there’s been a persistent problem with that wet-dog smell. Not always strong, but always perceptible if you sniff him. It’s located only on his back, not around his neck, but closer to the tail…what would be the lower back in a human. It’s a distinct “wet-dog smell”. I guess he only smells bad where his fur is thickest, but I’ve brushed him, and not much fur is loose. He’s in his summer coat and not shedding much yet.

At first I thought it had to do with our lake/pond behind the house, but the smell is not related to swimming times, and keeping him away from the pond does not improve it. In fact, he reliably smells good on the day after a swim, and then gets worse.

Then I figured he must have rolled in something (which is unlike him), so I shampooed him…he smelled great…for two days. There is no way for him to have accessed any ponds or rolling opportunities in those days. And yet, the smell came back. We don’t have any skunks here. He’s not itchy or otherwise showing signs of discomfort. He gets a high-quality dog food that’s “human-grade”. The other dog, female, smells fine.

I’m out of ideas at this point. To clarify: I’m not looking for tips on how to deodorize him, the dog shampoo is working fine. But the smell comes back within days, and I really don’t want to start bathing him that frequently. I can’t imagine that would be healthy for his skin, either. Most of his life, a quarterly bath was plenty.

What is going on? Is it time for a vet visit?

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9 Answers

Forever_Free's avatar

All dogs will roll in stuff. You moved to a new location. He is finding new smells on his romps and rolling in them.
He Is a dog. Let him be a dog.

longgone's avatar

^ He doesn’t smell where dogs will apply “perfume”, though. His neck and shoulders smell great. Also, we live in a city, so he doesn’t go for romps alone. We go for walks and hikes, and while he’s usually off-leash, he stays within my line of sight.

Forever_Free's avatar

They roll in grass and dirt that have been traveled or sprayed by other animal.
Lab’s are full of fun like that. It does sound a bit odd based on what you say. Ask your vet. I would be interested in what they say.

janbb's avatar

Is there possibly a hot spot there they you aren’t detecting? Some kind of sub-dermal infection?

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Sounds like a yeast or bacterial infection.

eyesoreu's avatar

Could be a number of things, anal gland secretion is possible but unlikely given your description.
Labradors are prone to spots of mildew given their thick coats, particularly so in the location you mention.

gorillapaws's avatar

I was thinking something fungal-related too. Just a guess.

longgone's avatar

Thanks so much, jellies! Very helpful. I’ve been focused on the fur, but it’s quite likely that his skin is the issue in one of those ways. It now seems crazy that I didn’t even think if that possibility. I just used a flashlight to see properly, and I certainly notice a lot of flaky skin. Plus, this dog is notoriously prone to hot spots. And if he were itchy in just that spot, I might simply not know because he can’t really scratch or bite at it. Which obviously would be awful :/

I’ll take him to the vet as soon as we get an appointment. Wilson is such a snuggly dog, and he needs to smell good to receive an adequate number of hugs and massages. (I’ll hug him no matter what, but some people are deterred.)

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Let us know how it goes!

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