Why Your Dog Smells Bad After Boarding Kennels

dog smells bad after boarding

Have you ever wondered why your dog smell bad after a stay at boarding kennels? I certainly noticed this on our dog Claude when he had to board one summer due to a family bereavement. It wasn’t a great smell to be honest; a mix of wet dog smell and mustiness.

When I mentioned this to my friends, they said they had also noticed that their dog smelled bad after coming back from boarding kennels. After a little bit of research and investigation, I think I’ve figured out why this is… bacteria!

The culprit: bacteria

If you’ve read my guide to preparing your puppy for a boarding stay you will know how much importance I place on checking the kennels out first. Despite them all being licensed, there are still bad one and goods ones.

In simple terms, if I went into a boarding kennel with my dog and is smelt bad, I would not book. But in all honesty, that’s not always a good indicator because on the surface level, it might smell ok when you visit it.

The reason your dog smells bad after boarding is because they are sleeping, eating, and living in a smaller space than usual. With the close proximity to other dogs, microscopic bacteria can develop and get onto your dog’s fur and skin.

There’s also the consideration of how much urine and fecal matter there will be. You have an environment where there are large numbers of dogs all doing their business. Your dog might also be urinating more than usual due to kennel stress, or even stepping in it and then sleeping in once they return back into their pen.

This presents the ideal breeding ground for bacteria, so it’s no wonder your dog smells bad once you get them home from kennels.

Handy Hint: It’s very common for dogs to come back from boarding kennels with a bout of diarrhea. You can find out why they have runny poop after boarding in this other post.

Why your dog smells after boarding kennels

Bacteria loves to breed in moisture. Moisture is a huge problem in dog boarding kennels due to the way in which the dogs live and the place is cleaned. There are plenty of hard to reach places, grooves, and gaps, and this is where bacteria love to hang out.

Think about all the washing and hosing down that goes on in boarding kennels. This is cleaning on the surface, but also pushing all that bacteria from the dogs and their feces into smaller areas that aren’t as easy to clean.

The bacteria will develop, and it stands to reason that it will in turn get onto your dog, and create a bad smell for you to deal with when you get him home.

Of course, bacteria isn’t just smelly, but it’s also potentially a health risk. Dogs can and do come back from boarding with various sicknesses including:

  • Fleas and ticks
  • Canine flu
  • Stomach bugs
  • Ringworm
  • Kennel cough

And then rarer diseases which whilst uncommon, have happened in US boarding kennels from time to time; leptospirosis, distemper, parvovirus, and hepatitis.

How to get your dog smelling better after kennels

That bad dog smell is going to be very hard to shift. If you want to get your dog smelling good again, I recommend following the advice that I laid out step by step in my guide to getting rid of fox poo smells.

Fox poo is a bad smell only rivalled by the stink a dog will pick up in kennels, so the cleaning process needs to be just as thorough.


Just because your dog came back from boarding with a bad smell, it doesn’t mean the kennels should be condemned. Running places like this is a very challenging task, and even the cleanest of environments won’t always stop that classic doggy smell from happening.

You might want to explore boarding kennels that offer in-house grooming facilities. I am aware of some that will give your dog a full shampoo and clean up before you pick them up.

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I regularly blog about boarding your dog. Here are some recent guides I think you will find helpful:

Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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