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Why does my water smell like wet dog?

Wet dog

Key facts: 

  • Common reasons why your water may smell like a damp dog may include: concentrations of metal in your pipes, organisms and/or bacteria, chemicals used to remove said organisms or simply environmental contaminants based on where you live.
  • If you smell an aroma of wet dog coming from your tap water, it’s more than likely from the hot water pipe.
  • If your water comes from a municipal treatment facility, chances are that wet dog smell is safe as that water is tested regularly.
  • If your water comes from a private well, bacteria may be to blame for the strange smell. Well water tends to accumulate more bacteria than regularly treated sources.

Have you noticed your water smells like wet dog?

Most people would agree that dogs are adorable, but even the most ardent of canine aficionados may not enjoy tap water that smells like man's best friend. A wet dog smell in your water can be alarming, however, the Centers for Disease Control states that “a change in your water's taste, color, or smell is not necessarily a health concern.” Yet, it’s important to understand the source of the smell and take steps to eliminate it so you can enjoy better tasting (and smelling) water.

There are several ways to locate and remove the problem:

  • Locate the taps where the foul smell is coming from.
  • Get your water tested by your local Water Testing Lab

What Causes The Smell?

There are signs you can look for in your home or office to uncover the source of the wet dog smell. There are a natural amount of minerals and metals in your water, but sometimes larger concentrations of metal in your pipes can affect the scent of your water. Lead, copper, magnesium, iron, and sodium can build up over time in your plumbing and taint your water supply.

Organisms and/or bacteria can also build up in your water supply. According to the Salt Institute, both PVC and copper pipes can collect mineral deposits over time. They may serve as a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause your water to have an unpleasant aroma. Ironically, the chemicals used to remove these organisms can also cause your water to smell. Additionally, the strange smell in your water could be caused by sulfur, which can also make your water smell like rotten eggs.

What Should You Do?

Public water treatment facilities, whether owned by the government or owned by private companies, are subject to regulations. If your water comes from a private ground well, your water is not subject to the same regulations for water systems.

If you are one of the millions of Australians who receive water from a public treatment facility, you probably have nothing to worry about if your water smells like wet dog, as your water is tested regularly and follows strict health guidelines. If your home happens to pull water from a private well, that wet dog smell very well may be a result of bacteria in your water and you should have your source tested.

Taking Steps To Restore Neutral-Smelling Water

In any case, it’s worth having a professional come out to diagnose your water. In the meantime, consider investing in a water cooler for your home or office. Our mission at Waterlogic is to deliver fresh, clean water to all households and offices with our Firewall™ filtration water coolers that eliminate over 99.9999% of bacteria found in tap water sources. Take a look at our product line or request your quote for a water cooler.