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Perfumes have been worn by people since early civilization, and still as of today, the world of fragrances is so popular that it's a multi-billion industry. 

All you have to do is visit Sephora's fragrance aisle and you're shortly overwhelmed with attractive-looking bottles and fragrances ready to seduce your olfactory senses.

 The scent of lavender, vanilla and sandalwood remind you of distant exotic places.

Whether it's the scented candles, new body soap or air freshener, we can't deny that as humans we are delighted by pleasant smells that stimulate the olfactory receptors in our nose.

What smells are we mostly attracted to? It looks like for the most part we're interested in flowery scents or scents that remind us of fruits or our favorite foods, but what about our dogs? 

Dogs seem to think things quite differently. Here are four reasons why dogs hate perfume, straight from your dog's mouth!

It's Just Too Much!

dog hates smell

 As you might know, Mother Nature has blessed me with a powerful sniffer that's believed to be have up to 300 million olfactory receptors!

 That's quite a lot compared to the mere six million you have!

 So don't be surprised if next time you call me, I ignore you as I am too busy reading my Daily Pee Mail messages from the lamp post down the street.

Each and every day, I am strongly affected by the world of wafting aromas that surround me in this man-made world. 

That spritz of Chanel No. 5 you put on when you are about to head out? It's too overpowering to me! 

Don't believe me? Just hear what veterinarian Ernie Ward in an article on Vet Street has to say in the below quote about carpet fresheners, potpourri, hair sprays, air fresheners and perfumes.

 I know that's easier said than done, but a tiny trace to us is like an elephant-sized funk to some animals. I’m so sensitive about this that I even train my staff not to wear perfumes or scented deodorants to avoid upsetting my pet patients. Seriously. ~ Dr. Ernie Ward

I Don't Like It!

why dogs hate perfume

The last time, I checked, I had anal glands and a tail, yup, that's a pretty strong confirmation that I am a dog and not a human! 

You see, as a human, you have a totally different history than me. 

Your ancestors most likely got most of their nutrition from gathered fruits and nuts which explains why you're attracted to those fruity and flowery smells that are over-represented fragrances found in your store's air freshener aisle.

When it comes to me, I am a scavenger at heart. Even if you were to ask Princess Fifi, your neighbor's French poodle who wears a pink tutu and a collar studded with rhinestones, she would also agree that your strong perfume is revolting.

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 Her favorite fragrance is likely "eau de toilet," a mix of cow poop, putrid carcasses and a touch of essential oils from some rancid fish.

Omnivores like our early humanoid primate ancestors were always seeking out plump, juicy fruits, and that legacy drives our attraction to fruity and flowery smells. Dogs are hunters and scavengers, attracted to, rather than repelled by, the scent of ripe carcasses. ~ Patricia McConnell.

dog hates scented bath

It Makes Me Sick!

On a more serious perspective, perfume can do more to me than make me cringe, it can actually make me sick, yes, even seriously sick. 

According to Pet Education, that isopropyl alcohol found in that perfume, cologne or aftershave you use, has toxic effects on me.

If I happen to ingest some or even breath in the vapors, I could develop serious nervous system disorders along with nausea vomiting and abdominal pain. In severe cases, I could even slip into a coma.

On a lighter note, if you see me itching and scratching, don't think fleas right away. Sure, that's a possibility, but keep in a corner of your mind the possibility that I might be allergic to all those perfumed doggy shampoos, sprays, and lotions you are so fond of.

 In some cases, I may even be allergic to scented products you use to make your floor or carpet smell good. 

Veterinarian Dr. Crista DeJoia, explains that skin allergies in dogs may manifest with redness of the skin, itching and biting. So keep an eye on my symptoms, and if you notice anything not right, keep me safe from these products and consult with your vet.

"Perfumes and scented products must be used judiciously with our pets. Heavily scented shampoos or sprays applied directly to a pet can cause skin reactions, nausea and lethargy, or even airway irritation."~ Dr. Crista DeJoia

dog rolling after bath

And the Worse Part,You Make me Wear it Too!

So now you know it, I thought it was time to spill the beans! 

My fervent hate for perfume is why I rush to the yard after a bath and start rolling on the grass... to get that awful scent off of me!

Next time you smear some strongly scented shampoo or cologne on me, would you please ask my opinion first?

 If you see me rolling in the grass feverishly as you watch in horror, I am likely trying to remove the perfume and gain back some of my canine identity.

How would you feel if I smeared you with cow poop, wouldn't you cry and go race to take a shower? Well there you have it, we're different species so to each our own!

Did you know? To your dog, your familiar scent is the best perfume ever! According to a study, an area of the canine brain associated with reward responds more strongly to the scents of familiar humans than it does to the scents of other humans, or even to those of familiar dogs.


  • The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs, by Patricia McConnell Ph.D Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (April 29 2003)
  • Emory Health Sciences. "Scent of the familiar: You may linger like perfume in your dog's brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 March 2014.

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