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Dealing With Dog Odors – Will Air Purifiers Help With Dog Smell?

As a dog lover myself, I understand one of the little gripes we have about them: the smell. Dogs naturally produce a variety of odors and for some people it’s a bother. Maybe you’ve been thinking about buying an air purifier to help.

If so, you’re probably wondering “Will air purifiers help with dog smell?” Since this is such a common problem I’ve put together some helpful information and I’ll answer your question. I’ll also share more with you about where dog odors come from and how air purifiers can – and cannot – help.

Where do dog odors come from?

Woman petting white dog image
Dogs naturally produce quite a few scents. Some of these mark their territory as well as help to identify them among other dogs. They naturally produce odors near their ear and paw pads. However, they don’t sweat on areas covered with fur.

It’s suspected that although they do have sweat glands for every hair follicle which do not produce perspiration that instead they may produce pheromones or some similar type of chemical secretion for signalling of some sort with other canines.

Additionally, they have glands in the ears with produce a slight odor odor. However some of the most noticeable odor comes from their paws and nose which, when moist, can possibly produce a noticeable odor as well. Smelly ears may often be and indication of infection too, although a slightly “yeasty” odor can sometimes be noticed near their ears due to the natural organisms that are present in their ear wax.

The anal glands of dogs also are normally only concerned with producing odor when a dog produces waste – however, when irritated and enlarged, an odor can be present from this as well.

A dog’s dander is actually microscopic skin cells shed and is one of the most common causes of pet allergies. And of course, don’t forget your pet naturally draws additional odors when they have been outdoors and exposed to bacterial-containing matter and other matter such as grass, dirt, and plant waste by-products.

The infamous wet dog smell

Wet dog smell odor infographic

The “wet dog” smell actually has a scientific explanation that is very detailed. Basically, dogs have a number of organic chemical sources that are “amplified” and released when their hair is wet. This isn’t an everyday occurrence but it certainly explains one of the most well-known sources of odors from dogs.

Dog odors from other sources

Dogs (especially breeds with long hair) that aren’t cleaned well can be prone to trapping dirt and other substances in their fur. They’re also prone to gather and collect organic material which can later lead to producing odors later. Some are simply bad-smelling substances on their own (like garbage and other materials mischievous dogs get into).

Skin diseases have been known to increase the production of sweat which can appear as a musty, damp odor. Dog breeds with deep skin folds are eligible for trapping bacterial substances or having an increased growth of yeast which again can present an unwanted smell.

Conditions in a dog’s mouth like ulcers and sources of infection can promote bacteria which, much like humans, causes bad breath and an offensive odor.

A few other sources of smells from dogs exist, too:

  • Foods containing fish meal or fish oil may encourage skin odor
  • Some medications or medicated shampoos
  • Flatulence due to a dog’s diet
  • A genetic likelyhood of odor (especially when not bathed periodically)

How an air purifier can reduce dog smells

Illustration of HEPA air purifier for dust sections

The filter sections of a typical air purifier. For dog odors the most important is the pre-filter with an active carbon filter included. This traps odors and other lingering substances in the air. It can also trap dog hair that’s airborne. The HEPA filter section removes finer problem-causing particles like pet dander, dust mite by-products, and much more. Shown is a 3-in-1 filter. The 1st and 2nd stages are combined in the pre-filter in this case.

Air purifiers work by trapping microscopic particles. Removing allergens and foreign matter to sizes even less than 1/1,000,000 of a meter are possible in the case of a true High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. A good air purifier can readily and efficiently remove 99.97% of all dog dander in the air.

This is course helps with smells as well as allergies due to dog hair and dander, but what about other odor sources I mentioned above?

Many purifiers use what is sometimes called a 3-stage filter. In this case the 1st stage is a more course filter for first removing larger elements from the air (in this case dog hair) followed by a carbon filter.

Active carbon filters actively attract – and trap – chemical odor sources like those produced by pets. These are used in addition to the HEPA filter section and the remaining microscopic particulates like dust mites, airborne microbes, dog dander, and other particulates are permanently removed from the air.

A carbon filter is important and quite helpful for permanently removing odors that linger as they’re caused by organic and other chemical substances.

Other things you’ll need to do

As an air purifier can definitely help but cannot address all sources of dog odor, if you want to really reduce your dog’s odors in your home, an odor-reducing shampoo is a must.

Natural Pet Shampoo For Dogs & Cats - Moisturizing And Deodorizing Formula...

A high-quality pet shampoo can remove odor-causing bacteria & organic matter. For the best effectiveness when trying to eliminate dog odors, you’ll need to bathe your dogs occasionally and use a high-quality air purifier.

In summary – will air purifiers help with dog smell?

The answer is yes! A high-quality air purifier is a great way to remove dog smells and allergy causing matter, but it can’t remove 100% of them. It can definitely remove the majority though. Some remaining odor sources (like skin or mouth conditions) may remain if left untreated.

For a healthy dog you can remove the majority of odors using an air purifier, occasionally bathing your dog, and ensuring your dog is eating a quality diet. If you’re dog has other health issues like I mentioned you’ll need to address those in more detail (like with specialized shampoos or medicines).

If you need more information about pets and how air purifiers can help, check out this page containing a number of helpful and related posts.

Tired of bad air? Here are recommendations and reviews for some of the best air purifiers for pet owners.

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