How Does Your Home Smell?

As dog owners, we all know that doggy odour that somehow hangs around in our home. Sometimes we may not notice it ourselves, but when a visitor arrives, they might remark on a “doggy smell” or, worse still, wrinkle their noses and say nothing.

That doggy smell….

Of course, the easiest way to get rid of wet dog or smelly dog aroma is to open a window or a door, but during the colder autumn or winter months, it’s not such an easy or as convenient a thing to do.

Most of us, myself included, resort to using air fresheners in various forms. Over the years I have tried most that are available. I have tried plug in’s, sprays, incense burners, scented candles, and diffusers.

I have tried placing them by the front door on a window ledge or hall table, in the lounge or even in the kitchen. We had one of those automatic motion-activated sprays in the hallway on the bottom shelf of the hall table, and I did once use a plugin on the wall socket by my dogs’ bed.

Sometimes my husband would remark on the overpowering fragrance produced by these things and on occasions I have to say that some of the smells they produce have made me feel a bit sick or given me a headache. I am now much choosier about the scents I purchase, preferring the more natural smells rather than sweet sickly or false smelling overpowering clouds of fragrance.

If we don’t like the smell or the effects it has on us then it’s easy enough to change the type or smell of air freshener, but I now question if my dog might have the same reactions as we do in some way or another and how would I know if they did?

Roxy the brilliant mum

In July 2020, experienced dog owners Emma and her partner Matt adopted Roxy from 1 Dog at a Time Rescue UK a charity dedicated to saving Romanian dogs from a life of hardship on the streets. Biggins, their 13 year old resident dog and Roxy got along so well.

Roxy a Romanian street dog sitting on a pallet| 1 Dog At a Time Rescue UK

When Roxy was found, she was doing everything in her power to keep her family safe. It was a testimony to her love and devotion that all her seven puppies had survived. Alone on the streets, and nearly full-term, she had sought the relative safety of a yard to seek shelter to have her puppies.


Fortunately, for her and her little family, one of our amazing volunteers heard about her plight and went to help her. Roxy and her pups were immediately taken to the safety of our shelter Happy Tails, where for the first time in their lives they would be happy warm and safe and have a lovely soft bed to cuddle up in all together with food and water whenever they needed it.


Nothing changed once Roxy and her pups were at Happy’s, and she carried on doing the most fantastic job raising her puppies, and they all thrived. Once the pups were weaned and old enough, they and mummy Roxy all found loving homes in the UK.

Roxy the Romanian rescue dog high five | 1 Dog At a Time Rescue UK | Dedicated To Rescuing and Rehoming Romanian Street Dogs

 Sadly after only four weeks of Biggins and Roxy’s new friendship, Biggins’s old age problems escalated, and he sadly passed away.

Rolo’s sad story

With Roxy suddenly becoming an only dog, Emma and Matt heard through 1 Dog At A Time that Rolo needed a home, so they offered to foster him, with a view to adopting him if he and Roxy got along ok.

Rolo’s story is a typical story of hardships faced by so many Romanian dogs, and why so many of them end up as street dogs.

Rolo a brown and tan Romanian rescue dog in the grass | 1 Dog At a Time Rescue UK

He was obtained by a cruel owner who got him to hunt rabbits. However, Rolo’s temperament was too sweet, and he didn’t want to hunt or hurt the rabbits. This cruel man then decided he didn’t want Rolo any longer and was going to turn him out on the streets to fend for himself, or worse still, take him to the public shelter to be thrown in there and forgotten without any hope of finding a home. Life in the Public Shelter is hard; dogs are left without any care or medical attention in squalid conditions and with little or no food. Temperatures vary greatly, from deep snow in winter to a searing, hot 40 degrees in the summer. In the winter there is no heating and dogs die from the cold, often frozen to the ground they laid on for the night.

Fortunately for Rolo, one of our lovely volunteers took Rolo off the man and offered to keep him safe at her home until a new home could be found for him. 

Roxy and Rolo’s new home together

Let’s now fast forward to Roxy and Rolo’s first few weeks and months in their new home. After the hardships of their life on the streets, both dogs have settled well into their new life. After a little over a week together, they are best friends and buddies. 

After a few days of Rolo going home, Emma contacted us to say that although he had settled well, he had been a bit sick in the mornings and he was scratching a lot.

She says:

We couldn’t work out why until I spoke to one of the 1 dog team who advised it could be the automatic air fresheners we use.” 

Emma was shocked and told us:

 “Now I thought I’d done a lot of research and chose a brand that was pet friendly, so I wasn’t convinced this was the issue, but was happy to give it a try.”

Emma and Matt immediately switched off and removed all the air fresheners in their house, and the result was instant, “just like magic“. No more sickness, minimal scratching and an all-round much more energetic Rolo.

Emma also told us: 

 “Initially Rolo was reluctant to come into the living room, preferring to lie in the kitchen. When we removed the air freshener from the living room, (it was a motion detector type) Rolo will happily come into the living room and lie down”. 

“I didn’t realise that even the dog-friendly air fresheners might not actually be that friendly to all, so definitely worth a try if anyone’s doggie is a bit sicky.” 

Just look at these two now, very relaxed, great friends, and just loving their new life. 

      Roxy and Rolo two Romanian rescue dogs together in a home | 1 Dog At a Time Rescue UK

Roxy and Rolo were lucky, their problems with air fresheners were picked up quickly by their vigilant new family, but issues can arise with air fresheners for all sorts of reasons. 

Air fresheners

If you think about where you might place air fresheners in your home, it’s easy to see just how they can so quickly affect your dog. 

Plug in’s and automatic fresheners are often at dog face or body level. If placed on a low table or shelf, then your dog might get a shot in the face or body if it’s one of the types of air fresheners that are activated by movement. If it’s a plugin type, then that again is at a low level where dogs are exposed to them repeatedly.

Thinking back, my dog who had a plugin placed near his bed? He stopped using his bed, preferring to sleep in the hallway by the radiator…………..knowing what I know now, it’s easy to see why, perhaps he was trying to tell me something?


Many air fresheners use chemicals simply referred to as VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). VOC’s are organic chemicals and cover a wide range of substances, some natural and some not. Substances such as ethanol (alcohol), acetone and formaldehyde, can be used, all of which vaporise and release a scent at room temperature.

The risk from VOC’s is that they can be hazardous to health and depending on how long and how often they are breathed in can contribute to allergies and asthma and other symptoms such as

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Breathing problems
  • Headaches
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Mental impairment, such as problems with memory

Constant and chronic exposure over a period of years/lifetime can even result in

· Cancer

· Liver and kidney damage

· Central nervous system damage 

Ethanol is a type of alcohol and is toxic to dogs in relatively small amounts. Ethanol poisoning can be fatal if left untreated. 

Air fresheners are not required to have a list of ingredients on the label which can make it doubly difficult to know just what is in them. 

Some of the sweet sickly scents such as those produced by scented candles for example, also contain VOC’s and if you spray your furniture or dog bedding with a fabric spray, please be sure it is completely dry before allowing your pet to get on the furniture or in their bed. 

If you use oil burners be aware of what oils you use. Did you know that Tea Tree, the most commonly used oil, is highly toxic to dogs? Some others are listed here. 

You can find more reasons why air fresheners aren’t healthy by CLICKING HERE.

Keep things fresh 

To keep your home (and dog) smelling fresh, why not try these simple tips. 

· Open windows or doors frequently to allow the air to circulate and to remove any smells.

· Wash your dog’s bedding regularly with a gentle detergent or preferably with a pet-friendly detergent.

· Try to choose dog beds that have removable covers and are therefore easy to put in the washing machine.

· Cover furniture with throws which can also be washed regularly. 

· To help with that wet dog smell use a waterproof coat for your dog and make sure you wash their paws in warm water to remove any mud when you return home. 

· A good dog drying towel or cloth is worth its weight in gold. I use a drying cloth which we keep on standby to be used after a walk, and I also have one in the car. If your dog has been for a swim then these towels are brilliant, they soak up so much water really quickly. 

Finally, if you like fresh smells in your home, then you can always have a bunch of fresh scented flowers or even dried lavender in sprays or bags.

Red bunch of flowers in a vase on a table | 1 Dog At a Time Rescue UK

 Please click here to contact us if you would like more information on 1 Dog At A Time Rescue UK.

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