Is there _anything_ that smells bad to a dog?
November 9, 2011 12:17 AM   Subscribe

Is there any such thing as something that smells 'bad' to a dog?

There are plenty of things that smell bad to humans; it's obviously to our advantage to have an inbuilt mechanism to warn us away from certain things that are unhealthy for us (rotten food, feces, etc.).

Observation of dog behaviour (many examples in this earlier AskMe thread) shows us clearly that many things that are dangerous for us, are not so for dogs. Different species; different physiology.

But are there some things that do actually smell bad to a dog, to warn them away?
posted by woodblock100 to Pets & Animals (30 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Some dogs don't like the smell of lamb cooking. Related AskMe
posted by 6550 at 12:22 AM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Eucalyptus oil had a very strong effect on our lad, Dogmatix.
posted by taff at 12:23 AM on November 9, 2011

My dog hates the smell of citrus. When I eat oranges he sniffs the peel, them runs away barking.

Same reaction with nail polish remover.
posted by robotot at 12:42 AM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Show a dog a can of Altoids, shake it so it rattles and get them all worked up then open it and let them take a big sniff. Many dogs are strongly opposed to peppermint.

They love eating bees though, even when they sting them. It's weird.
posted by fshgrl at 12:58 AM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Our three-month-old puppy hates the tick spray we use and that's orange peel-based. If she sees the bottle, her eyes narrow and she backs away. Upon being sprayed, she'll start rubbing her nose on the ground.
posted by Asimo at 1:02 AM on November 9, 2011

My dog (like a great many dogs and cats) abhors all citrus smells, though as far as I can determine citrus isn't dangerous for dogs... unlike some items, like grapes and chocolate, which she would happily gobble if I let her.

I wondered about why, and thought it may have to do with acidity/tartness -- yet she loves several other fairly acidic fruits. But then I read that citrus fruits in particular, while acidic, actually have an alkalizing effect when ingested (at least in humans), and that makes me wonder if this is a factor. I know that some Veterinarians recommend special diets for acidifying a dog's urine pH to deal with certain types of UTIs and/or uroliths, so perhaps the citrus repulsion is a sort of natural protection against becoming over-alkalized? Total doofy uninformed guess, but I've wondered about it.

(Also, my dog loves dried cranberries, which are tart, so I thought she wouldn't like them... but they are especially acidifying – so they help with her occasional UTI problems, and this does fit my acidic/alkaline theory, though I realize it's just anecdata.)
posted by taz at 2:02 AM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Magic markers -- not Sharpies but the large kinds.
posted by crapmatic at 2:04 AM on November 9, 2011

Think of your dog like a four-legged forensics expert. There are lots of things they'd rather not smell, but their job is to investigate it anyway.

In my experience, the only things that smell so bad that it causes an observable reaction in our dogs are things where they feel that the smell itself may be dangerous (rather than just the item that smells that way). Cleaning products, gasoline fumes, hard liquor, and my new ghost pepper hot sauce, as examples. Other than that they probably just silently avoid the things that are not to their preferences (i.e. citrus).
posted by Riki tiki at 3:53 AM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Bizarrely, our long-departed beagle never cared for the smell of beer. I had never met a dog that would turn-away from beer until we got her.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:55 AM on November 9, 2011

We have an antibarking collar we put on our dog that sprays citrus when she barks. So in addition to a four-legged forensics expert, she's a walking room deodorizer.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 4:35 AM on November 9, 2011 [11 favorites]

My dog hates beer and most alcoholic beverages in general. Except for jello shots (my roommates were assholes)
posted by Betty_effn_White at 4:39 AM on November 9, 2011

Purely anecdotal, but my dog doesn't like the smell of his own farts. For the record, I don't either. He'll leave the room sniffing, leaving me in a cloud of funk.
posted by quodlibet at 5:22 AM on November 9, 2011 [5 favorites]

Anecdote: My terrier recoils from Cool Ranch Doritos. Nose turned up, teeth bared, the whole nine.
posted by ladygypsy at 5:50 AM on November 9, 2011

My dog overenthusiastically bounded over to say hello to a baby skunk one night. He was actually sprayed _up_ the nostrils. He did not seem to enjoy the experience. I'm guessing it was probably the smell, because he was forcefully exhaling out of his nose for 2-3 days afterwards. (nb: a vet was consulted. he is just fine now)
posted by reverend cuttle at 6:17 AM on November 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

My mum's dog hates the smell of toothpaste, so the peppermint thing sounds like it's the cause.
posted by mippy at 6:32 AM on November 9, 2011

My dog hates the smell of nail polish and nail polish remover. Snorting, backing away, etc.
posted by zoetrope at 6:56 AM on November 9, 2011

Citrus oil can be toxic for cats and dogs (more so for cats, of course), so I expect that is the source of the revulsion.
This is my first comment btw, so Hi, Everyone!
posted by PlantGoddess at 7:07 AM on November 9, 2011 [7 favorites]

Cintronella oil is used in training collars because dogs hate the smell so much.
posted by wwax at 7:44 AM on November 9, 2011

My dog will not eat the wasabi paste left over from my sushi. He takes one whiff and backs away.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:51 AM on November 9, 2011

A little tea tree oil is enough to keep my dog away for hours.
posted by deadmessenger at 8:28 AM on November 9, 2011

My dog absolutely refuses to go anywhere near a Frito. Which is funny because he starts to smell like a Frito himself when he needs a bath.
posted by humboldt32 at 8:58 AM on November 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

My dog hated the smell of my friend's pet snapping turtle. She'd go up to it, take a sniff and run from the room.
posted by BibiRose at 9:27 AM on November 9, 2011

One time my dog was under the blankets in bed and my boyfriend farted. My dog crawled out, jumped off the bed, and barfed on the floor. Cause & effect? Possibly not. Hilarious? Absolutely.
posted by magnetsphere at 10:26 AM on November 9, 2011 [8 favorites]

My dog likes the smell of citrus and happily eats orange slices. So I'd say that scent preferences and aversions vary from dog to dog, as they do for people.
posted by medusa at 11:26 AM on November 9, 2011

Taz!!! Don't give your dog dried cranberries or any dried fruit!
posted by Lesser Shrew at 3:20 PM on November 9, 2011

Anecdata. Like medusa's dog, ours likes citrus smells, too, especially mikan. I don't give him any, but I can tell his former owner (my grandma) probably used to because he shoots over to whoever is eating it and gives that "I will wait here forever until you accidentally drop that" stare. I was slicing up a bunch of lemons and kabosu yesterday and he was right at my feet the whole time.

FWIW, our dog is one of those with black holes for stomachs, but he won't eat sashimi and seems to not like the smell, either. Interesting question, BTW.
posted by misozaki at 4:31 PM on November 9, 2011

PlantGoddess: "Citrus oil can be toxic for cats and dogs (more so for cats, of course), so I expect that is the source of the revulsion.
This is my first comment btw, so Hi, Everyone!

Hi, Doctor PlantGoddess!
posted by Samizdata at 5:45 PM on November 9, 2011

Citrus oil can be toxic for cats and dogs (more so for cats, of course), so I expect that is the source of the revulsion.

And according to this posting, so is tea tree oil – so scent aversion on those = "good dog! smart dog!" I just wouldn't use any sort of essential oils with pets at all, since they are so concentrated.

ditto the "welcome," PlantGoddess!

Lesser shrew, about the cranberries, you're probably thinking of raisins, which are toxic for dogs along with grapes. I don't give my dog a lot of dried cranberries because I think they would have too much natural sugar content, but I use natural/organic dried cranberries from the health food place for pocket treats while on walks, and not every day. Some dog foods do include dried cranberries.

posted by taz at 8:55 PM on November 9, 2011

Dogs are apparently wary of wolf's urine - stands to reason as it's its a scent/territorial thing and wolves are pretty well top of the pile. God knows where you'd get it though! Maybe you could procure some Pitbull or Rottweiler urine.

I have read that chilli powder is very effective against rats, but it requires a dry environment as moisture has an effect on the ability of the capsicum dust to get into the nostrils. So if you lived in a desert area, you could liberally dust around your property to keep unwanted (small) dogs away without a bad smell. However, this strategy could prove interesting on a windy day....
posted by guy72277 at 12:57 PM on November 10, 2011

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