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Updated August 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for best dog colognes

As much as we love our canine companions, sometimes that distinctive doggy odor can become a bit overwhelming. When your pup is getting a little too stinky for your liking and bath time is still weeks away, spritzing on some dog cologne can work wonders.

Dog colognes mask odors and leave behind a pleasant scent, helping Fido stay fresh between baths. Those made with essential oil extracts can even provide a bit of canine aromatherapy. Many dog colognes also contain ingredients that nourish your dog's skin and coat.

Choosing a good dog cologne can be tricky, though. Certain ingredients can dry out a dog's skin and coat and are best avoided. Scent, quantity, and compatibility with flea and tick treatments are just a handful of other points to consider.

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Dog colognes can last anywhere from 4 to 24 hours. Keep in mind that the length of your dog’s coat can impact the product’s longevity. Pups with longer, denser coats generally require more frequent application.

Key considerations

Ingredients

When looking for a dog cologne, you want to pay careful attention to what goes into it. Harsh ingredients can cause irritation and may dry out your dog's skin and coat. We recommend avoiding chemical-based products, as these are more likely to have adverse effects.

Try to steer clear of alcohol-based colognes as well, particularly those containing ethanol, methanol, isopropyl alcohol, or denatured alcohol. These ingredients are drying agents and can be harmful to both you and your dog.

Not all alcohols need to be avoided, however. Benzyl alcohol, for example, is commonly used as a preservative and antibacterial in natural and organic skincare products. According to Healthline, fatty alcohols (also known as long chain-alcohols) such as stearyl, cetearyl, cetyl and behenyl are also safe for hair and skin.

Scent

A dog's olfactory bulb (the part of the brain responsible for analyzing smells) is 40 times larger than a human's, as a proportion of the overall brain. Not surprisingly, dogs are extremely sensitive to smells and often find strong scents and fragrances overwhelming. While it can be tempting to reach for the strongest dog cologne out there, it's best to stick with subtle scents for the sake of your pet.

When it comes to picking a scent, you need to decide whether artificial or natural fragrances are better for you and your dog. While there's no denying the appeal of dog colognes offering baby powder or cotton candy scents, versions fragranced with natural essential oil extracts often deliver the added benefit of mood enhancement or pest repulsion. For instance, lavender can have a calming effect, while cedar can help repel ticks and fleas.

Quantity

Dog colognes come in bottles of varying sizes and quantities, and you, of course, can get them in bulk as well. However, if you're trying out a new scent or formula, it may be a good idea to choose a smaller quantity to start with. This way, you can see if the scent and ingredients agree with your dog before you commit to a larger quantity.

Flea and tick treatment compatibility

The last thing you want is for a cologne to interfere with your dog's flea and tick treatment. While most dog colognes, perfumes, and deodorants are formulated to be compatible in that regard, it's still a good idea to check first.

The best time to apply dog cologne is directly after a bath. With dirt and excess oils out of the way, fur and skin can hold onto scents for longer.

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Features

Aromatherapy

As mentioned previously, dog colognes that are naturally scented with essential oils can be used for aromatherapy as well.

Lavender: This calming scent can be particularly helpful for hyperactive, anxious, or stressed-out pups.

Chamomile: Like lavender, chamomile is a soothing scent that can help reduce irritability and anxiety.

Orange: Citrus-based scents are great for reducing nausea and soothing upset tummies.

Lemongrass: This scent is ideal for dogs who need to be alert and focused, and it also works to repel fleas.

Cedar: This is a great option for repelling ticks and fleas, and it can also have a relaxing effect on dogs. However, it's important to note that cedar can be quite potent, so you might want to go easy on colognes containing this essential oil.

Skin and coat conditioning

Many dog colognes offer a two-fold benefit: odor reduction and skin and coat conditioning. If a soft, shiny coat and healthy skin are just as important to you as odor control, opt for a dog cologne that contains nourishing ingredients such as oats, vitamin E, aloe, and lanolin. Such products can be particularly helpful for pups with dry or itchy skin.

Packaging

Most dog colognes are sold in spray bottles. To prevent frustration, a sturdy, well-functioning nozzle is essential. There's no way to determine how well a spray bottle functions just by looking at it, but browsing through buyer reviews can give a pretty good idea. Another packaging feature to note is bottle width. If you have large hands, this may not be too much of a concern, but those with smaller hands may find long, slim bottles more comfortable.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Applying an excessive amount of dog cologne can negatively affect your dog's mood and behavior. In addition to causing irritability, restlessness, and anxiety, too much cologne may also prompt your pet to roll around in dirt or mud in an effort to remove the scent.
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Dog cologne prices

Inexpensive: You can find smaller quantities of dog cologne for as little as $5, or even less, though these are usually chemical-based sprays in aerosol cans.

Mid-range: For between $5 and $10, there is a large variety of natural and synthetic dog colognes. Premium brands can also be found towards the higher end of this range.

Expensive: High-end, luxury, and designer dog colognes generally cost $10 and up, though few top the $20 mark. Larger quantities of premium dog colognes also tend to fall under this price umbrella.

If odors persist even after bathing and applying dog cologne, it could indicate an underlying health problem. Consult your vet as soon as possible.

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Tips

  • Look for gentle, natural ingredients. While some dogs are just fine with synthetic colognes, sensitive pups often do better with natural ingredients. Choosing a natural cologne doesn't entirely eliminate the possibility of your dog having a negative reaction (especially if allergies are present), but the chances are much lower compared with chemical-based formulas.
  • Steer clear of overpowering scents. As we've already mentioned, dogs have super sensitive noses. In the same way that scent-sensitive people may develop headaches when exposed to strong fragrances, a dog can become uncomfortable or distressed if the scent of their cologne is too strong.
  • Don't overdo it. Even milder scents can be overwhelming if pet parents become trigger-happy with a spray bottle. Remember: when it comes to dog cologne, less is more. A couple of squirts should do the trick.
  • Brush it through. Brush your dog after spritzing on cologne to distribute the scent throughout their coat.
  • Keep an eye out for allergies and reactions. Some ingredients may not agree with every dog. You can test for sensitivities by applying a small amount of dog cologne to a localized area and observing your dog closely over the next 24 hours for signs of irritation or itching.
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Take extra care to avoid your dog's eyes, nose, mouth, and ears when applying dog cologne. Even natural ingredients can cause stinging and itching.

FAQ

Q. How often can I safely use dog cologne?

A. If you choose a quality product with gentle, natural ingredients and your dog doesn't have any existing skin conditions, you can apply it as often as you like. But for chemical-based dog colognes, you might want to limit their use to once or twice a week to avoid irritating or drying out your dog's skin and coat.

Q. Is it safe to use human perfume or cologne on my dog?

A. No. Scents that are formulated for people often contain chemicals and drying alcohols that are harsh on animals. Many human perfumes also are quite strong and may overwhelm a dog.

Q. What should I do if my dog has a reaction to the cologne?

A. If your dog shows signs of allergies or irritation, it's vital that you stop using the cologne immediately and consult your vet. It’s also advised to wash your dog to remove any leftover product residue.

Q. Is it safe to use dog cologne on puppies?

A. While many dog colognes are marketed as being “safe for all ages”, a puppy’s immune system isn’t fully matured until around six months of age. Since there’s just no way to predict how different ingredients will affect different dogs, we recommend waiting until your puppy is at least that age before introducing a dog cologne.

 

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