Here's Why You Shouldn't Spray Perfume Around Your Pets

Pets can be smelly, so we understand wanting to keep a beloved fragrance in your home. But spraying the wrong thing could be a big mistake.

Kori Williams - Author

Jun. 18 2024, Published 11:14 a.m. ET

A boxer getting sprayed with cologne.
Source: iStock

Being a pet parent is so rewarding, especially when you've rescued your loving companion from a local animal shelter. Maybe you and your pup enjoy long hikes together, or spending time snuggling on the couch.

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But no matter how much we love our dogs, we can't always escape the wet dog smell, the farts, the dog breath, and other stinky odors they occasionally emit. Your first thought might be to spray something to save your nose, but are things like perfume bad for dogs and other pets? Keep reading for what you need to know about using scents near your beloved canines.

Fragrance sticks being used around a dog in a living room.
Source: iStock
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Is perfume bad for dogs?

Not all perfumes are bad for dogs, but you should be careful spraying them around your pet regardless. Our four-legged friends have a much more sensitive sense of smell than we do.

Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter states that having something with such a heavy scent around it could cause things like skin and airway irritation, lethargy, and nausea.

Unfortunately, many pets can also be allergic to perfumes. Pet responses to allergies vary but could lead to them biting themselves to help deal with reactions on their skin.

Essential oils can also be worse than perfumes for your dog. Doglyness states that some well-known and common ones, like citrus, cinnamon, and peppermint, are toxic to pets and can have some of the most negative reactions.

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Someone spraying into their hand next to a dog.
Source: iStock

Are air fresheners bad for dogs?

Some air fresheners can be very toxic to dogs, but it depends. Some are made with particular ingredients that can make your pets sick. According to PetMD, the main culprits here are volatile organic compounds (VOC), which evaporate into the air at room temperature. That's great for making a room smell better quickly, but your pet can find them irritating.

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To be on the safe side spraying anything into the air in your home, holistic veterinarian Dr. Patrick Mahaney told PetMD that reading the directions on the side of the bottle can help you determine whether it's something that can be used around pets.

If you're brave, you can also test this out first-hand. If you spray something in a room and it irritates your eyes or nose, you can bet your pet could have an even worse reaction.

A person spraying air freshener into their kitchen.
Source: iStock
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Is perfume bad for your hair?

Marie Claire points out that you should never spray perfume on your hair. These scents contain alcohol that can dry it out. Too much dryness can lead to breakage if you aren't careful.

Luckily, many shampoos and conditioners have great scents. And since they are designed to work with your hair, they can be a great way to help keep things smelling good without the downside.

As an alternative, you could consider buying a hair mist. The amount of alcohol in a hair mist is much less than you would find in a standard perfume. Bustle states they can also feature properties that would benefit your locks like UV protection.

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Someone spraying perfume into their hair.
Source: iStock

 However, this doesn't mean hair mists are safe for your dogs. As always, be sure to read the labels and use them on yourself first before introducing them to your pets. If you're extra concerned, consult with your veterinarian before introducing anything new into your beloved pet's environment.

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