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youve given me a headache

05/01/2024 - Advice

I treated myself to a haircut last night, and now I have a headache! What does that have to do with dogs? Well…let me tell you…
I am very sensory sensitive, especially with smells. The product that my hairdresser put on my hair smells so strong it has given me a headache. (I must remember next time to take my own stuff). Its also made Stanlee (my dog) sneeze a few times.

 Now as a human being I have about 5 million scent receptors in my nose give or take. A dog (dependant on breed) can have around 300 million, cats can have around 200 million. This means that whatever we can smell our companion animals can smell it ALOT MORE!

If I put that into a human superpower of sight, it means that they can stand in London and see all the way to NEW YORK!!!!!

Now I am able to notice that I’m getting a headache and why, I am able to take paracetamol, wash the product out of my hair, drink water and hydrate myself and lay down in a dark room if I need to, I am able to communicate how I am feeling to anyone I come in contact with. Can your dog or cat do any of these?

There must be so many companion animals walking around feeling ‘eugh’ and we are completely unaware, until their ‘eughness’ starts effecting their behaviour or even health. We know that many household sprays and fragrances are extremely toxic to dogs and cats, yet some people still use them.
Our perfumes and aftershaves can also really affect them, I know of people who get humped by dogs they come across because of the perfume they wear, people who animals just do not seem to want to be near them or dislikes them.

As I work and live with animals its very rare that I will wear perfume, I do not have any fake smells around my house, or limit them as much as possible, because I know how negatively they can affect our companion animals.

Next time you are out for a walk, stop and smell, what can you actually smell? Most of nature will have a smell but nothing too pungent and overpowering.

Next time you walk past someone with pungent and overpowering perfume or aftershave be aware of how that smell hits you in the nostrils.

When you next walk in your front door be aware of what smell/smells hit you. Are the smells natural or chemical?

Because our companion animals are stuck in that environment most of the day having to deal with the effect the smell has on them and not being able to communicate this, until one day it all becomes too much and creates a behaviour ‘issue’.
Be aware of things like:
  • Incense sticks
  • Cigarette smoke (you when you have smoked)
  • Cigar smoke (you when you have smoked)
  • Vapes (you when you have vaped)
  • Perfume
  • Aftershave
  • Deodorant
  • Moisturiser
  • Bodywash/soap/handwash
  • Laundry detergent/ household cleaners
  • Alcohols/other drinks
  • Room sprays/scents
  • Indoor plants/outdoor plants
  • Hair products
  • Make up products
  • What your groomer puts on your dog
  • Chemical treatments 
  • The smell of Vets (although this can't be helped)
Have I missed any?

Being a human with a sensitive nose, I get headaches and sometimes feel quite nauseous, smells can bring on panic if linked with other sensory issues like noise and light e.g.

I can feel quite uncomfortable in places with a strong scent, I am always looking for the exit and how long do I need to stay here for? Can I leave now? I get hot flushes and become very distracted; I struggle to focus.
Why would these responses only be a human response? Especially when our companion animals’ sense of smell is SOOOO much stronger than ours?

I am aware that not all people are as effected as I am with these things, I am also aware that some people are effected more than I am with these things, and this could be the case with animals also… BUT… what if your companion animal was struggling and you can help them just by removing some of these environmental triggers? How easy and fabulous would that be for them?

I would be interested to hear of your experiences with these issues.