Scents and Sensibilities

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In a lot of people’s minds, what’s good for the human is good for the dog. A lot of us like to share our favorite things with our dogs. Travel, gourmet foods, clothing, fad diets, health crazes — some of it is great, some is just good fun. But some of it may make you scratch your head.

Recently, perfumers have gotten in on the act, and have started to market fragrances for the pampered pooch. This may sound silly, but it can be big business. One company, for example, Les Poochs, markets an invitation-only dog fragrance made with rare flower extracts and packaged in a crystal bottle. How much will it run you? Try $4,000.

On the other hand, scented dog products can have their place. There’s no arguing that sometimes our pups can get a bit…pungent, whether it’s from a health or grooming problem, or a good roll outside in something we’d prefer stayed outside. And some scented products have skin and hair benefits as well.

So, perfume your pooch or go au natural? This is the question.

First Things First

Sometimes that not-so-fresh-scent is nothing to worry about: a roll in the wrong thing, a bit too long between bath times. But sometimes a bad smell can have an underlying medical cause — a bacterial or fungal infection, for instance. Or an abscess, a dental problem, an ear infection, a skin condition, or even certain allergic reactions.

If the smell is new, powerful, doesn’t go away, or is concerning in any other way, make an appointment with your vet to clear it up before trying to cover it up with artificial scents.

But if the problem is just SDS (Stinky Dog Syndrome), or you’re interested in pooch perfume, then it’s fine to think about scents and scented products.

Perfume vs. Scented Products

The big difference, here, is that perfumes are strictly for the owner.

By and large, dogs don’t think about how they might smell to others. That doesn’t mean that smell isn’t important. In fact, quite the opposite. Smell is the primary way that dogs perceive the world, and their sense of smell is quite a bit more powerful than ours. For this reason, we should think twice before dousing our pups in fragrance. It might smell nice to us, but too much might be overpowering — or even uncomfortable — for a dog.

That said, a little dab now and then probably won’t hurt.

If you want a product that does double duty, you might consider a scented product such as shampoo, wipes, or coat treatments.

And if your desire is, frankly, to deodorize, there are scented deodorizing powders and sprays on the market. You can also make your own easily, cheaply, and naturally.

What to Look For in a Fragranced Product

In addition to imparting a lovely scent, you will, of course, want something that is gentle on your dog’s skin. You might also, in the course of experimenting with scents, unearth a previously undiscovered allergy. So it’s important to play it safe.

Consider the following:

  • Alcohol-based scent products can cause skin irritation. Use sparingly, or choose water-based products.
  • Just like with food, look for a short list of easily recognizable ingredients.
  • Undiluted essential oils can cause skin irritation and even damage. Moreover, some oils are toxic for dogs. Choose carefully, and never feed your dog essential oils or put them in your dog’s water.
  • If you’re going to use a commercial dog perfume, experts recommend using it sparingly and infrequently, and alternating it with bathing.
  • Before using any scent product, test a small amount to make sure it doesn’t irritate your dog’s skin or make them sneeze.

Scented Products You Can Make at Home

Now that you know what to look for, you can, of course, scour the market for doggie deodorizers that fit your particular bill. You can also make your own. Making your own scent products means that you have control over the ingredients, their concentration, and the production methods. It can also save you money.

Doggie deodorizer

If your intent is to remove an unpleasant smell, and medical causes have been ruled out, then you can make a number of simple, natural deodorizers with ingredients you probably have right in your kitchen. Check these out.

White vinegar spray

Combine 1 quart of water with 1 quart of white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray it on your dog and allow it to dry. Stink begone!

Baking soda deodorizing powder

Give your dog a good brushing to remove dirt and extra hair. Then massage baking soda into your dog’s coat. Leave it for five minutes, then brush it out again, removing as much as you can. According to PetMD, baking soda won’t hurt your dog, but it won’t taste good, either. And you don’t want it to get all over the furniture. (Of course if you’re trying to deodorize furniture or bedding, baking soda is a good, natural way to do it.)

Homemade doggie perfume

You can make a lightly-scented perfume by adding a few drops of a dog-safe essential oil to a spray bottle full of water. A highly diluted concentration like this is a good compromise between an owner’s desire for scent, and a dog’s sensitive scentsibilities.

Grooming wipes

Grooming wipes are a good way to get clean quickly and without a lot of fuss. They’re also good for spot cleaning, and for cleaning dogs who really, really, really hate a bath. You can buy commercially made wipes, but you can also make your own. My Dog Likes explains how.

First, you’ll need your favorite dog shampoo, some extra-thick, water-resistant tissues or paper towels, and a watertight container. (If you want to add scent to the shampoo first, add a few drops of dog-safe essential oil.)

Next, fold the tissues, and put them into the container. In a cup, dilute a bit of shampoo in warm water. My Dog Likes recommends a concentration that is pourable, that is, not too sudsy.

Finally, pour the mixture over the tissues and let them sit until they absorb the shampoo mixture. My Dog Likes recommends using the wipes within a few days, as the tissues will eventually begin to break down.

What’s That Smell?

That’s your dog, smelling like a rose — or a rainforest, or a million bucks. Have fun experimenting with scents. Just remember to keep it fun for your dog as well.

Featured Image: CC BY 2.0, by Elsie, esq., via Flickr

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