Facts about the animal kingdom

Top 10 Smells Dogs Hate

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: October 29, 2019
Top 10 Smells Dogs Hate

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A dog's sense of smell is completely different from a humans', so it is not surprising that we have different tastes when deciding which fragrances seem pleasant and which aromas we consider unbearable. For us, the smell of urine and feces are some of the smells that repel us most. For dogs, these smells provide them with information which is of great interest to them.

Many of the smells dogs hate are found in our homes, producing discomfort in our dog's nose, thus presenting our dog with an unpleasant environment. If you want to know what smells repel dogs, keep reading this AnimalWised article for more.

You may also be interested in: 10 Smells that Cats Hate


  1. A dog's sense of smell
  2. Smells dogs hate - citrus
  3. Smells dogs hate - vinegar
  4. Smells dogs hate - chili
  5. Smells dogs hate - alcohol
  6. Smells dogs hate - nail polish
  7. Smells dogs hate - chlorine and cleaning products
  8. Is naphthalene toxic for dogs?
  9. Do dogs like the smell of perfume?
  10. What smells do dogs hate?
See more >>

A dog's sense of smell

Smell is the most developed sense in a dog. Dogs have between 150 and 300 million olfactory cells, a number that, compared with the five million cells present in humans, is colossal. This is why they are able to identify almost every particle in the air or on objects. A dog’s great sense of smell also allows them to determine exactly where these smells are located. For this reason, dogs are used to search for missing people, detect narcotic substances or even diagnose diseases such as cancer.

In addition, dogs are animals with a great smell memory. This means that, just as we are able to recognize a person through images, dogs are able to recognize us through smell. Therefore, it is essential to let an unknown dog smell you before you stroke them. This is also why you shouldn’t bother two dogs that are smelling each other.

Having such a sensitive sense of smell, it's no wonder dogs are excited every time they go out on the street. An open environment such as this exposes a dog to a whole world of new smells to perceive and discover. Likewise, we should not be surprised if they show disgust to certain aromas that, for us as humans, may seem pleasant. Because of a dog’s strong sense of smell, what we may believe is not a strong odour, could be incredibly repellent to a dog. To find out what smells repel dogs, take a look at the complete list below.

Top 10 Smells Dogs Hate - A dog's sense of smell

Smells dogs hate - citrus

Humans tend to love the smell of citrus. Not only is it a lovely natural reminder of summer, but it is an aroma which can last for a long time. Therefore, we as humans often tend to buy products that contain citrus for a lasting fresh environment. However, our furry companions do not agree and this is one of the smells that dogs hate most.

Remember dogs have a sense of smell 40 times more developed than humans. Therefore, if the smell of citrus is already intense for a human, imagine how strong the smell of citrus is for a dog. It is such a strong aroma it can cause irritation in the animal's respiratory tract, producing both an annoying and unbearable sensation.

Citrus fruits, such as lemon, orange or grapefruit, give off smells that dogs can't stand. But, the scents that dogs hate the most are those provided by essential oils made with this type of fruit. Oils are concentrated products that emit a much more intense odor than the fruit itself. Therefore, animals perceive an even stronger odor than they would with the actual food itself.

If you intend to use a citrus scent to prevent your dog from urinating in a certain area of the home (such as the carpet), we recommend that you use natural fruits and avoid placing any oils within their reach. The purpose of this technique is to prevent the animal from approaching that specific area, not to offer an unpleasant coexistence.

While there are smells you can use to keep dogs away, it is important they are not harmful. This article on toxic fruit ad vegetables for dogs may be helpful.

Top 10 Smells Dogs Hate - Smells dogs hate - citrus

Smells dogs hate - vinegar

Vinegar is another ingredient used as a home remedy to prevent a dog from urinating inside. Dogs hate the smell of vinegar. As with citrus fruits, the aroma of vinegar is so strong that it is somewhat unbearable for dogs. However, apple cider vinegar is actually beneficial for dogs. Therefore, depriving them 100% of it is also not advisable. We must learn how to use vinegar properly and know how often to apply it, so that our animal always remains as comfortable as possible.

Apple cider vinegar is highly effective in preventing your dog from smelling bad. However, since this is one of the scents dogs hate, we suggest mixing it with their usual shampoo to reduce its fragrance. Do not apply this solution to their head area and make sure to rinse them well after applying it.

Smells dogs hate - chili

Chili, or chili pepper is a food that owes its hot taste to a series of natural chemical compounds called capsaicinoids. In humans capsaicinoids are used from everything to flavoring chili and even help reduce obesity[1]. Dogs, however, are incredibly repelled by the natural smell of chili. So much so, that smelling this food directly can cause respiratory irritation, itching in the nose and constant sneezing in a dog. It is therefore essential to know which human foods are banned for dogs to prevent them from consuming them.

Smells dogs hate - alcohol

Antiseptic alcohol is a smell dogs don’t like. We completely discourage applying alcohol to a dog’s skin. In case of injury, the best thing to do is to clean the wound with water and go to the vet so that he/she is the one to disinfect it. If you are in a situation in which you cannot go to a specialist, we recommend consulting the following article in which we discuss how to make natural disinfectant for dogs and apply it by following the instructions.

A dog's reaction to this will depend mostly on the alcohol content of the disinfectant. In addition to this, dogs hate antibacterial gel agents and some alcoholic beverages. This is not the case for all of them. A dog may try to drink a beer or a cocktail which it otherwise thinks is tasty. Remember, even if we cannot necessarily smell much, they can smell everything.

Top 10 Smells Dogs Hate - Smells dogs hate - alcohol

Smells dogs hate - nail polish

The smell of nail polish can be pleasant for many people, but dogs detest this smell too. Nail polish is made up of a high number of chemical compounds, so it is not natural. They include formaldehyde, nitrocellulose, isopropyl alcohol and acetate. Dogs hate the smell of these fragrances. If a dog comes into contact with nail polish it can also cause them to sneeze and itch excessively.

On the other hand, nail polish removers also form part of the list of smells that dogs hate. This is due to their chemical compounds, the scent of acetone being perhaps the most annoying smell of all for dogs. We recommend opting for acetone-free nail polish remover and/or keeping all of these cosmetic products away from dogs.

Smells dogs hate - chlorine and cleaning products

Although for us they produce a fresh and clean ambiance, dogs hate the smell of cleaning products. Not only do dogs not like this smell, but these products are also highly harmful and dangerous for dogs. Inhaling these chemicals directly can cause irritation of a dog's respiratory tract and esophagus. In addition, ammonia produces an aroma very similar to that released by a dog’s urine. A dog will then associate this ‘urine’ smell to the presence of another animal at home and it can cause stress in dogs.

Although the above mentioned products are considered the most annoying products for dogs, they generally hate the smell of all cleaning products. Many cleaning products are given scents such as citrus which the dog would hate anyway. If you need to clean the house, we recommend trying to clean the house while another family member takes the dog for a walk. This will avoid placing your dog in an unpleasant environment. Enzymatic cleaners are the best to use if you have a dog in the house. Many don't even use scents, so they are unlikely to repel your pet.

Top 10 Smells Dogs Hate - Smells dogs hate -  chlorine and cleaning products

Is naphthalene toxic for dogs?

Yes, naphthalene is toxic for dogs. Naphthalene is generally used as a pesticide, due to its high level of toxicity. No only do dogs hate the smell of this chemical, but if ingested it can kill your dog. The ingestion of a single naphthalene ball can cause serious damage to a dog's liver and central nervous system. The result is vomiting, diarrhea and convulsions. You will need to take them to the vet to counteract this action, otherwise it could be fatal.

Do dogs like the smell of perfume?

No, dogs hate the smell of perfume. Have you ever noticed that, after perfuming yourself and trying to hug your dog, he or she rejects you? This is because perfumes are products made with a great amount of chemical compounds and scents that dogs hate.

In addition to the unpleasant smell, dogs also hate the smell of perfume because it camouflages the smell their owner's natural body odor, a smell that comforts them. Remember that dogs recognize us by our smell, if we hide it under another one, it is not surprising that they will naturally detest that unpleasant fragrance that prevents them from identifying us.

What about dog perfume? yes, dogs also don't like this smell. However, as long as they are of: good quality, are not harmful and are specifically manufactured for dogs, you can apply them in moderation.This means that we do not recommended putting perfume on your animal every day, but once in a while; as a canine hairdresser would.

Top 10 Smells Dogs Hate - Do dogs like the smell of perfume?

What smells do dogs hate?

As with humans, every animals has a taste of their own and therefore may not find all of the smells mentioned to be unpleasant. This is not an exact science and you might find that one dog likes the smell of something while another dog hates the same smell. But in conclusion, we can gather that anything that causes a citrus-y or chemical-type smell, should be avoided!

If you found this article helpful, we think you may enjoy our YouTube video below. In it we talk about the 10 things dogs hate about humans, keep watching for more.

If you want to read similar articles to Top 10 Smells Dogs Hate, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.


1. Tremblay, A., Arguin, H., & Panahi, S. (2015). Capsaicinoids: a Spicy Solution to the Management of Obesity?. International Journal of Obesity, 40, 1198-1204.

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Please help me asap with advice for my dog!! Please, I think I'm having a panic attack
Please answer this as soon as possible! I was using isoprophyl, running alcohol, a nd the scent is all in my room! I was crying because my dog already has a pusher in face and I don't want it to have difficulty breathing! Please help me. I'm having a panic attack. It is breathing heavily
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Gianna,

If you think your dog is having severe respiratory problems, you will need to take them to an emergency vet. We are not a veterinary emergency service and cannot provide any assistance in such situations. We can only advise on what a problem may be by providing information around pet care and animal issues. In your case, it could be intoxication, mild or severe. It could be their normal breathing which brachycephalic dogs have issues with. It could be something else. Only a qualified veterinary medical professional with the correct diagnostic tools can advise. Maybe you can phone your vet and they will be able to advise further?
I’m so glad to see this. I LOVE animals and I’m a real nature buff. I hate all the artificial aromas sold these days. They give me a headache I can only imagine what these scents do to dogs. As well as pesiticides (often sprayed at their level)!!
Mall Verleye
is it harmful to rub a little vicks on or around the dog's nose to stop him pestering a female in heat? please
Administrador AnimalWised

Rubbing Vick's on a dog's nose is a very cruel thing to do. The mentholated tincture will be very stingy on a dog's incredibly sensitive nose and cause severe discomfort. It will also be punishing a dog for doing something which is natural. Instead they will need to be educated better to prevent this behavior. Finally, rubbing Vick's on a dog's nose will not even be effective in stopping this behavior.
black tabby
I live in South East Asia. I have encountered with dog attacks so many time. So I started to carry a home-made vinegar spray for
self-defense. It really works well.
Once they got smeared with this, they will not try to mess with me again.
If you are facing the risk of the mean dogs in the streets, employ this method.
Administrador AnimalWised

This is a tricky one. You don't want to cause any harm to animals, but in some countries wild dogs do pose a legitimate threat to the safety and well-being of humans. A spray like this is non-lethal and effective as a last resort.
Bill Jones
I would also like to add to the perfume/cologne section. I have heard vets say that scented deodorants, soaps/body wash, and other scented hygiene products can bother pets, so opt for scent-free alternatives, which are widely found in tons of different locations.
Your dog's nose image on your URL, https://www.animalwised.com/top-10-smells-dogs-hate-1568.html is obscuring the text.
Please rectify it. (I am using Microsoft Internet Explorer version 11).
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Chitta,

Our webpages are formatted to work across all platforms, but sometimes it will not work in individual caes due to software issues. Although still maintained, Internet Explorer was discontinued in 2015. We checked and the website works on the desktop version for us. This implies there is an issue with your software, although it could one of a number of system issues. We suggest either updating the software or trying a different browser.

We hope the problem resolves itself soon and you can get back to enjoying our website. In the meantime, here is the text of the introduction in case it is helpful:

‘A dog's sense of smell is completely different from a humans', so it is not surprising that we have different tastes when deciding which fragrances seem pleasant and which aromas we consider unbearable. For us, the smell of urine and feces are part of the smells we repel the most, but for dogs these are odors that provide information of great interest to them.

Many of the smells dogs hate are found in our homes and we even bring them with us, producing discomfort in our dog's nose and an unpleasant situation for our furry companion. If you want to know them and discover what fragrances that appall dogs, keep reading this AnimalWised article and start getting rid of these scents.’
Can a dog be offended by its owner's breath?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi TJ,

We suppose the first question we could ask is CAN animals be offended? This is a grand philosophical question which has been debated for centuries and has to do with animal behavior, evolution and cognitive ability.

In terms of a dog not enjoying the sensation of your breath, it is possible. However, even though dogs have millions more smell receptors than human beings, they don't seem to find many of the scents and smells we humans find unpleasant. Think about a dog's anal glands. When a dog meets another in the park, they press their nose against the anus to recognize the dog. Does the dog reject this smell? Do they find it off-putting? It's unlikely.

The smells in this article are ones which are only really annoying to dogs when they are in concentrated form. While dog's don't like he smell of alcohol, they won't leave their owner's side if they decide to have a nice whisky out on the porch. When the smells on this list are present on a person's breath, they will be in a very diluted form and will likely not perturb the animal too much, if at all.

If a dog doesn't like a certain smell, they will try to avoid it. If a dog repeatedly avoids their owner when they are breathed upon, perhaps they have a problem with the breath. However, even in this circumstance it would be difficult to determine if it is the breath or another stressor the dog wants to avoid.

We hope this provides some food for thought and thanks for the question.
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Top 10 Smells Dogs Hate