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What happens if you put human perfume on a dog?

Dogs don’t always smell fresh and clean. In fact, they can be downright smelly at times. Perhaps your dog loves to roll in dirt, or they simply have a strong dog smell. 

You can’t bathe them every day, so how do you keep them smelling good? Perfume can be used on dogs, if it’s designed for dogs. However, you shouldn’t put human perfume on your pooch. 

What happens if you put human perfume on a dog?

Perfume was originally invented to help royalty and nobles cover up the stench of their unwashed bodies. This seems disgusting to us today, with our much more sanitary practices. 

Instead of using perfume to mask offensive odors, we use it to enhance our natural smell. Of course, when ti comes to dogs, it’s common to use perfume as it was before showers became popular. If your pooch isn’t smelling fresh, can you spray them with some Chanel #5?

Human perfume can have some harmful effects on dogs. Smelling it can cause respiratory symptoms. Topical application can cause skin irritation, allergies, and rash. They may also ingest some of the perfume through licking. 

The Nose Knows

One issue with using perfume on dogs is their sensitive noses. Their sense of smell is believed to be 1,000 times stronger than ours. They also have a jacobson’s organ, which allows them to pick up on chemicals within scents that aren’t detectable to us. 

Dogs certainly have different scent preferences than humans. They will commonly sniff each others butts, snack on poop, and roll in dead animals. Your stomach is probably doing flips just thinking about it. 

This is one of the reasons humans want to use perfume on dogs, so they smell better to us. 

However, a dog’s sensitive sense of smell means they can be bothered by strong scents. This includes perfume, scented cleaners, air fresheners, and even hairspray. 

What’s In Perfume? 

Have you ever wondered just what is in your favorite bottle of perfume? The main ingredient in perfume is a type of alcohol known as ethanol. Cologne has the highest concentration of ethanol, with perfume being slightly lower. Body sprays may contain little to no ethanol. These are typically water-based. 

In addition to alcohol, perfumes typically contain synthetic fragrances and chemicals that can be harmful to both humans and dogs.   

What Happens If a Dog Inhales Perfume

Symptoms caused by exposure to perfume can include coughing, nasal discharge, and sneezing. If your pooch seems to have allergies after smelling perfume, it could be nasal irritation due to the chemicals in the perfume. 

They can also experience respiratory symptoms. These include wheezing and labored breathing. Again, this can appear similar to allergies. 

Exposure to perfume doesn’t only occur if you spray it on your dog. If you spray the perfume on yourself, your dog will also be exposed, but to a lesser degree. If your pooch is very sensitive to the effects of perfume, you may need to limit your use of it and other fragrance items. 

Ethanol Toxicity 

Perfume isn’t designed for consumption, and the ingredients can be toxic. Most human perfumes have ethanol, which is a type of alcohol. Ethanol can cause some serious problems for your canine companion. 

Symptoms of ethanol poisoning include lethargy, depression, stomach upset, disorientation, and difficulty breathing. Severe ethanol poisoning can lead to coma, seizures, and even death.

It’s unlikely that spraying a bit of perfume on your dog will expose them to a fatal amount of ethanol, but it’s not a good idea. 

Ethanol can also dry out your dog’s skin. This can cause skin irritation and allergies. 

Perfume Toxicity 

Of course, perfumes don’t only contain ethanol. They have many other ingredients as well. These ingredients add to the danger of applying them to your pet. In fact, you may want to think twice about using them yourself. 

The truth is, there are too many potential toxins in perfume to list them all. We’ll look at a few, however. 

Phthalates are one chemical of concern. Phthalates have been linked to serious harm in dogs. It can damage their kidneys, liver, and reproductive system. Unfortunately, they are lurking in many products, including vinyl dog toys and perfume. 

Acetaldehyde is another chemical of concern. California’s Prop 65 lists it as a chemical known or suspected to cause cancer. It can also affect the kidneys, reproductive system, and nervous system. 

How the exposure would affect a dog is unclear at this point, but it’s wiser to avoid exposing your pooch to the chemical. 

Dog Perfume

Dog perfume, on the other hand, is safe to use on dogs. It doesn’t contain alcohol or other harmful chemicals. However, you should still use caution. Using it too often can cause skin or coat problems for your pooch. 

Is it safe to put perfume on dogs?

This depends on the type of perfume you are referring to. It is not safe to use any type of human perfume on dogs, for the reasons mentioned previously. 

It can irritate their nose and cause skin irritation. In the case of ethanol toxicity, it can even be dangerous. 

 Dog Perfume 

With human perfume off the table, what’s a dog lover to do? Doggie perfume to the rescue! These formulas are water-based, with dog-safe ingredients. However, these should also be used sparingly. 

Dog perfume manufacturers do not recommend using the perfume every day. In fact, they recommend applying the perfume once a week. At the very most, it should be applied once every 3 to 4 days. 

You should only apply it to areas of your dog that have fur. Areas with little fur or bare skin should be avoided, to prevent skin irritation. 

DIY Dog Perfume 

Looking for a safe, natural way to make your dog smell great? DIY dog perfume is the answer. DIY dog perfume is made with essential oil and water. This means it won’t irritate or dry your dog’s skin. In fact, it may actually be good for them. To make the perfume, you’ll add 6 drops of essential oil to a 4 oz spray bottle.

Shake and spray it on your pooch. Just be sure to avoid their eyes and head. It can be t3empting to add more essential oil.  However, remember your pooch has a very sensitive nose. Essential oils that are too concentrated can also irritate your dog’s delicate skin. Using only a few drops provides a light scent safely. 

It’s best to begin with the very diluted blend. If your pooch seems to enjoy it, you can increase the concentration later. 

Using Essential Oils

The next question is, what essential oils can you use. Some essential oils should never be used on dogs, while others your dog may enjoy as much as you do. 

Lavendar oil is wonderful for dogs and people alike. If your dog is hyperactive or has difficulty relaxing, lavender oil can help them to settle down. It has a claiming effect. It’s also known to soothe the skin when applied topically with a carrier oil. 

Francinsense is another oil that’s great for your dog’s mind and body. It’s often used in wound care due to it’s antibacterial properties. It has calming and uplifting effects. It’s perfect for feeling centered. This may help you and your dog to feel grounded and happy. 

Peppermint and citrus oils have an uplifting scent that can energize your dog. They also make an effective insect repellant. 


If you aren’t comfortable using dog perfume on your furry friend, you aren’t stuck with a stinky dog. There are some other ways to keep your pooch smelling fresh. 

The most obvious way to keep them smelling nice is regular baths. However, you shouldn’t bathe your dog any more frequently than once every two weeks. An occasional extra bath won’t hurt, but frequent baths can cause skin issues. 

One of the easiest ways to deodorize your pooch is baking soda. Just sprinkle on the baking soda, and rub it into their fur with your fingers. You can then brush the excess baking soda out of their coat. 

This can be performed once or twice a week. Using baking soda too often can cause skin irritation and can clog their pores. Their fur can keep the baking soda on their body, where it can build up if applied to frequently. 

Another way to keep them smelling fresh is dog wipes. Just like perfume, you don’t want ot use human products on your dog. Instead, get pet wipes. You can use pet wipes daily to freshen your pooch between baths. They remove some of the dirt and oil which can create doggie odor.