21 Smells Dogs Hate The Most

Dogs have a keen sense of smell, which is well known, but we rarely pause to think about what it might entail for their sensitive noses in our fragrant homes. 

Dogs are thought to have a 10,000–100,000 times greater sense of smell than humans do. 

Think about how overwhelming the odors of deodorant, air fresheners, and cooking would be in their houses. 

Being a responsible dog owner means being aware of the odors that your dogs are especially sensitive to.

In this article, we examine 21 smells dogs hate the most.

Citrus Fruits

dog image with image of citrus fruits

Dogs have an incredibly powerful and sensitive sense of smell, which is why they may not be a fan of the smelling citrus fruits.

This is because oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and other citrus fruits contain volatile oils with strong smells that can overwhelm a dog’s nose.

Citrus peels are particularly unpleasant for dogs to smell because the oil from the skin traps their nasal hairs more than it does on human skin.

For this reason, many pet parents avoid feeding their furry friends citrus fruits or anything containing them as an ingredient.

Pine Needles Or Tree Sap

Dogs typically have an excellent sense of smell and can easily detect when pine needles or tree sap are present in the air, even in small amounts.

This strong odor can be overwhelming and bothersome for dogs, especially since they can’t understand why that smell is there.

While some dog breeds may adapt better to the smell of pine needles or tree sap than others, it’s important to remember that all dogs should be kept away from any area with a particularly strong scent.

Cleaning Products

dog image with image of cleaning products

Many dogs hate the smell of cleaning products, but they can also be toxic to them.

Cleaning products can cause eye, nose, throat, and lung irritation, coughing fits, and asthma-like symptoms in pets.

In some cases, they can even affect their neurological system.

To protect your pet from strong smells and chemicals in common cleaners, keep their area free of cleaning products and strong-smelling items.

It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Strong Perfume Or Cologne 

Strong Perfume or cologne can be an unpleasant experience for them.

Not only do dogs dislike the smell of such fragrances, but they can also be toxic.

Dogs are highly sensitive to artificial perfumes, and even the smallest exposure to these chemicals can cause irritation, nausea, and other adverse reactions.

Some dogs may even develop skin rashes due to the harshness of the fragrances.

As a result, it’s best to keep strong Perfume and cologne away from your furry friends at all times in order to protect their health.

Smoke From Cigarettes, Cigars, Or Pipes 

dog image with image of cigarettes

Many dogs are highly sensitive to the smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes.

Not only can the smoke be unpleasant for dogs to breathe in, but it can also be toxic.

Inhalation of smoke can cause irritation of their airways.

Putting their respiratory tract at risk of developing asthma and other lung-related diseases.

Furthermore, a study conducted by veterinarians has found that dogs who are exposed to secondhand smoke are twice as likely to develop lymphoma or nasal cancer.

Therefore, not only do our furry friends hate the smell of smoke but there’s a good reason to protect them from it as well.


Alcohol smells can be overwhelmingly pungent to them.

Alcohol also has a range of toxic effects on dogs, including low blood sugar, which can cause disorientation and dizziness if ingested.

In the most serious cases, alcohol poisoning can occur, leading to potentially life-threatening conditions such as respiratory failure or cardiac arrest.

It is for this reason that dog owners should ensure any alcohol is put away safely and out of reach from their pets.

Strong Spices 

In fact, these smells are so overwhelming to a pup’s olfactory senses that they can actually cause physical discomfort in their nasal passages.

Furthermore, some of these strong smells can be harsh and toxic if ingested by dogs, making them unpleasant and dangerous for them to be around.

As a result, all pet owners need to keep their furry friends away from spicy substances and settle for less potent seasonings instead.

Onions And Garlic

dog image with image of onions and garlic

The scents of onions and garlic usually come with a pungent odor that is incredibly sharp and powerful.

Onions and garlic are toxic foods to dogs, causing anemia and other health issues.

Keep these vegetables out of reach, use air fresheners when cooking with them, or train your pet not to eat them.


Dogs hate mothballs because they are used to repel moths and other pests.

This potent scent is not only unpleasant but also potentially harmful to dogs.

Inhaling mothball fumes can cause coughing, vomiting, rashes, breathing problems, nervous system depression, coma, or death in dogs.

Pet owners should use safer pest control methods to avoid harming their furry friends.

Chili Peppers

dog image with image of chili peppers

Chili peppers contain a compound called capsaicin, which gives them their pungent smell.

This smell can be extremely unpleasant to many dogs, causing them to dislike it and avoid any foods containing it.

Additionally, these peppers’ strong odors can cause burning sensations in a dog’s nose, making them want to get away from the source slowly but surely.

The toxins found in chili peppers can also negatively impact a dog’s health.

Eating large amounts of chili peppers could lead to gastrointestinal distress, including vomiting and diarrhea.

Pet owners need to avoid giving their dogs any food containing chili peppers, as it can put their health at risk.

Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs may smell delightful to humans, but those same scents can be a source of immense discomfort to dogs.

So while these fragrant plants may provide us with enhanced flavor and nutrition in our cooking and medicinal remedies, it is probably best to keep your four-legged friend away from their strong scent and prevent potential poisonings by limiting their exposure as much as possible.

Tea And Coffee

dog image with image of tea

For dogs, the smell isn’t just unpleasant; it can also be intense and overwhelming.

Not only are these smells uncomfortable for dogs, but they can also be toxic!

Coffee beans, tea leaves, and caffeine can cause everything from upset stomach to seizures in dogs.

So if you’re a fan of drinking these beverages around your canine companion, make sure to keep them centered in areas where your pup won’t be able to get a good whiff of that funky aroma.

Nail Polish

To us humans, the scent of nail polish may tingle slightly or barely even be noticed, but it can be overwhelmingly strong for our four-legged friends.

Not only is the sharp and acrid scent irritating to dogs, but there are several added precautions that we need to consider when using nail polish around them.

The main chemical used in most commercial nail polishes is formaldehyde which is highly toxic to dogs and can cause serious harm if ingested or inhaled.

This means that not only can the sudden sharp scent of nail polish send our doggy friends into a scared frenzy, but they can also become sick if they inhale too much of it!


dog image with image of peppermint

Some dogs might get scared from the sharp smell of peppermint, feeling like it is a warning sign that something is wrong.

Even when peppermint is not being used for a practical motivating factor, such as trying to deter the dog from entering one area or another, the scent itself can be off-putting to the animal.

Many commercial shampoos are scented with peppermint, and while this may not bother some animals, they can still be repelled by direct contact with that smell, even if it has been diluted.

Dogs may even respond differently to different kinds of peppermint smells, such as menthol, which could mean heightened discomfort if near that particular type of odor.


The smell of cinnamon is something that dogs usually don’t like because it can irritate their nose and throat, leading to a certain amount of discomfort for them.

Additionally, the strong smell may overpower their ability to sniff around and detect other scents in the environment, such as other animals’ presence, potential food sources, and more.


dog image with image of lavender

This isn’t just because many dogs find it overwhelming – it’s also toxic to them if ingested!

Lavender contains linalool, which can irritate a dog’s nervous system.

Because of the toxicity risk and their dislike for the smell, avoid using lavender products around pets.


It’s a widely known fact that dogs tend to run away when they get the slightest whiff of eucalyptus.

This is mainly due to the powerful scent that can be overwhelming for them – in fact, it has even been described as “abrasive” by some. 

What many don’t know is that it can actually be toxic for our beloved four-legged friends too!

All these potential dangers are why dogs have imprinted on their instincts not to approach anything related to this plant over time.


dog image with image of jasmin

Jasmine is no exception, and many dogs find the aromas of jasmine flowers and oils to be overbearing.

Not only is the scent intense to their noses, but the oils themselves are often chemically manufactured, making them potent irritants if they come in contact with a pet’s sensitive skin or eyes.

Additionally, since many heavenly scents associated with jasmine may remind dogs of unfamiliar animals or potentially disagreeable situations, it’s understandable why so many canines are wary when they’re around it.


Not only is vanilla overwhelming to a canine’s sensitive nose, but it can also be toxic and harmful to them.

Artificial vanilla flavoring in many products contains irritant and poisonous ethyl acetate.

Avoid giving your dog any food or treats with artificial flavors, like vanilla extract, so you can keep them safe from harm.


dog image with image of  a rose

It is a scent that many dogs find quite disagreeable – and there are a few reasons why.

Firstly, dogs have an acute sense of smell which means the pungent odor of roses overpowering the other scents they can detect. 

Secondly, dogs use their sense of smell to detect danger, and a rose may remind them of a predator due to its intense floral aroma.

Finally, roses often bloom in gardens where flowers are sprayed with harsh pesticides, which can irritate their sensitive noses.

So if you want to keep your four-legged friends happy – maybe stay away from anything rose-scented!


Even small amounts of strong smells like vinegar can be troublesome for them.

Some dogs may have painful memories of vinegar-based flea baths.

Even if a dog has had a positive experience with vinegar, the scent can cause fear or confusion.

Avoid using vinegar around dogs because it can cause distress and make them dislike the activity.

Before You Go…

Now you know the smells dogs hate the most.

If you want to learn more, read the following articles too!

Mena Emad, DVM
Mena has a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. His expertise, passion for animal welfare, extensive knowledge, and experience in the field of veterinary medicine make him an excellent resource for our readers.