Recently me and my pup got caught in a passing rainstorm that left us both soaked. I quickly scooped her up and went home to towel her off. Our morning routine resumed as usual. Then, the smell happened. My pup jumped right into my lap and I’m surrounded by it. The thick scent of wet dog.
As all pup owners know, the wet dog smell is a largely pungent smell, and once it’s there, it’s hard to escape.
Which brings me to my next question: why is the smell of a wet dog such a strong odor? And more importantly, what is the science behind it all? Wired gets down to the nitty gritty and looks at this common pup smell with a deep lens.
First of all, when we humans inhale, microscopic airborne molecules alight upon olfactory sensory neurons (aka your schnoz).
Then, these cells take the chemical signature from the molecules and write it into an electrical signal. This is all sent to your brain where brain circuits perceive different smells and begin labeling them. Think: new car, leather jacket, and fresh baked cookies.
So what’s that got to do with wet stinky pups? Well, my dear humans, our beloved pups are covered with smelly microorganisms that only activate when wet.
According to Wired,”H20 breaks down the chemical bonds that hold the micro-excreta together, releasing a fog of musty molecules into the air. As water evaporates it also raises the relative humidity in the air surrounding your dog.”
As a bonus, the warmer and more humid the air is, the stronger the odor because more molecules make their way to your receptive neurons. Which means if your pup has an off the charts running-through-sprinklers-party on a hot summer day, you will be knee-deep in eau du dog stench.
Though, since we’re all self-proclaimed obsessed pup lovers who smell our dog’s fri-toes and laugh at their farts, what’s the smell of wet pup in the long run? It’s practically cute. 😜