Dahling, Be a Dear and Pick up Some More Perfume for Fifi
A recent ad for a natural pet deodorant got me thinking. Is a deodorant, even an all natural, essential oil based one, necessary for your dog to smell sweet and fresh and be a pleasure to pet?
That thought process was over in the microsecond it took for a neurotransmitter to leap the gap from one neuron to the next:
Nah. Something wrong with this picture of perfuming pet odor away.
I have patients who smell sweet and have luxurious coats that you just want to dig your fingers into and bury your nose in.
How did they get this way?
More importantly, how can you get your dog to become this sweet and this irresistible?
Read on, and I’ll share the path to this lovely state.
History Doesn’t Lie: My Own Dogs Stunk
Confession time. The heartbreak of pet odor lived in my house. I grew up with a number of dogs, one at a time, and they pretty much all smelled doggy. I guess maybe Stash, the first, a miniature poodle, wasn’t so bad, but that may have been more due to his breed’s way with coats.
But Loopy, the Bassett Hound who followed Stash into my boyhood? Whoa: he smelled.
We all loved Loopy, having fallen for him when he was just a cutie bundle of puppy, whose ears stretched well past the tip of his moist black nose.
He was a great guy, and when I was eleven, he’d pull me around the block on my skateboard, so it was easy to overlook his D.O. (B.O. for dogs, aka “pet odor”).
Our roughhousing was big and loud and, in the Winter at least, took place on the living room carpet. I’d crawl towards Loopy with an expression of evil intent on my face, and maybe a low growl. I was in a crouch, ready to spring, and Loopy would immediately rise to Threat Level 5 to ward off my predatory attack.
Snap! I’d snake out an arm from my lion-like carpet hugging pose, snatch a stubby foreleg, and the game was on!
Loopy launched into full on counter attack, biting my hand, pulling to get free, growling savagely, with me growling right back at him, in as menacing a voice as I could muster as a pre-pubescent boy.
I’d move in for the kill by scooping his entire body into my clutches, embracing his writhing, snapping, snarling ferocity and trying to stay clear of his now maniacally snapping jaws. Just when it looked like his life was over, in the service of a predator’s lunch,
“Billllll! Dinner! C’mon and wash up.”
“-Kay, Mom, be right there.”
Loopy and I quickly fell out of our predator-prey dynamic, reestablishing our true best buds relationship, and I was off to the sink to wash up. My hands and forearms were streaked with red where Loopy’s teeth and claws had grazed them, and the sink received the oil, dirt and smell that came off my hands with the help of good old Dial soap.
Pet odor dealt with, I was now ready to eat.
And, growing up with the next few dogs, I thought this was normal: dogs smell doggy. You’d want to get soap involved after play time before you got on to the next thing in life.
It wasn’t until I became a holistic vet, some eight years into doctoring, that I realized that D.O. was abnormal.
Pet odor was a man-made phenomenon.
Learning from Vital Animals
My patients really taught me as much or more about what real health looks like as any book or any lecture I’d ever sat through. They didn’t get on a pedestal or get preachy or say one thing and mean another.
The vital animals just radiated what they had to tell me.
When they were truly vital and healthy, they’d show me with:
- Shiny coats, that actually reflected light.
- Soft fur, the kind you couldn’t get enough of, your fingers digging into the luxury of it all.
- Sweet scents, the kind that was real, natural, and not contrived by perfumes or essential oils.
- Gleaming white teeth, with sweet breath you could get right up and close with.
- Sparkling eyes, clear and dancing and not missing a trick.
Over time, I realized all of this glorious, magnetic attractiveness inevitably came about from attention to a few key things.
And the ignoring of these things creates pet odor.
Let’s look at the most significant one first.
Why Your Dog Stinks: The Main Reason
It’s getting harder to find the “bad guy ingredients” in pet food these days, as more information is rushing around the interwebs and people have ponied up for better quality dog food, but there are still a number of kibbles that will make your dog smell bad. Here’s a classic example.
Purina Dog Chow, fed to all my childhood dogs, has the following label:
Whole grain corn, meat and bone meal, corn gluten meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, soybean meal, poultry by-product meal, egg and chicken flavor, whole grain wheat, animal digest, salt, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, dicalcium phosphate, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, Yellow 6, Vitamin E supplement, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, ferrous sulfate, Yellow 5, Red 40, manganese sulfate, niacin, Blue 2, Vitamin A supplement, copper sulfate, calcium pantothenate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin B–12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, Vitamin D–3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, calcium iodate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite.
Besides the obvious overuse of corn and its attendant sweetness, we find “meat and bone meal” (unnamed meat: is it beef? horse? dog? possum? all of the above?). Here’s the definition:
Meat and bone meal is the dried and rendered product from mammal tissues.
Mammals. That’s a relief.
Oh wait. I’m a mammal! Road kill is mammalian.
So are the 4D meats (dead, diseased, dying, or downer animals, unable to rise).
That’s a huge group now, isn’t it?
How about “poultry by-product meal?”
Again, pretty generic term that you’d never find on a grocery store shelf or in a restaurant, right?
It, like the meat and bone meal, is rendered, meaning it’s been purposely overcooked to kill harmful bacteria, and then put through more heat and high pressure to make it into food like particles.
Voilà: kibble in a bag.
Which animal? Healthy animals? Which parts? Were they 4D before they underwent “chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis?”
Is this an ingredient you’d consider for your next smoothie, to bump up your protein intake?
While a chemist can measure protein in these ingredients and put the numbers on a label, how much is actually useable to your dog who eats it?
If you compare that usability to that of raw meat and bone, you’d find a huge difference.
Then, in this same food example, we have four, count ‘em four, artificial colors.
Does your dog really care what color his food is? And these petroleum sourced chemicals have been long associated with cancer, hyperactivity, and allergies.
The bottom line: you’re feeding a load of toxic material when you choose a kibble.
Even a “premium” kibble. (I’ve long called Science Diet and the “prescription diets” expensive junk food!)
If you ever have visited a slaughter house or driven past a pet food company, you’ll know that characteristic smell that has you reaching for a hankie to cover your nose.
Those rendered ingredients are bad news.
Unfit for human consumption and unfit for any pets who’s family.
Start With the Low-Hanging Fruit
There are other things that contribute to pet odor, greasy coats, and fur that you’d rather not caress, but you’ll get the most bang for your buck by getting kibble out of the picture and focusing on feeding balanced raw food.
Other “bad guys” include repeated vaccinations, a practice lacking scientific validity according to the immunologists. And a practice highly associated with allergic skin conditions, the number one reason pets see vets.
In the dogs I grew up with, it was clearly diet causing all the D.O.
We weren’t vaccinating except for maybe an initial round, there were no fleas to worry about in Wisconsin, and heartworm had yet to make the news, so no poisons were being used there.
Pet odor came from the Checkerboard Square, now owned by Nestle.
Had we known, we’d have done better.
Make the Change, Forget the Perfume
Here’s what you can do to get that amazing coat that smells great and draws people in like a magnet to ask how in the world you did it.
- Toss the kibble and get raw food working for your homie carnivore.
- Make it yourself, following helpful books, or
- Buy it ready made. Sources include healthy pet shops or even home delivery.
How long till you see results? You’ll see some benefit within days, which seems impossible, but more than one client has told me this story:
“We ran out of raw, and had to switch briefly to (healthy) kibble. His coat got dull within a day, and got shiny again when we re-introduced the raw.”
You’ll see more steady improvement in coat luxuriousness and loss of odor within a couple of weeks, and it’ll be solid and lasting at a month or so, if you stay vigilant in feeding real food.
You’ve heard that beauty comes from within.
Well, so does sweet smelling skin. And that’s got to beat perfumery, right?
But don’t believe me. Let my readers tell you in their own words. That’s what the comments are for.
Are you ready to be inspired and stop washing your hands so often? Read on.