Can Dogs Smell Bleach?

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Introduction

If you know anything about your dog, you probably know that "can dogs smell bleach" is a pretty silly question. If your silly human nose can pick up the intense, nose-hair burning smell of bleach, you better believe that your dog can smell that ultra-strong cleaner, like sixteen times over.

What you might not know is that dogs are sort of attracted to the scent of bleach - you're probably wondering how, right? That scent repulses you and drives you away, but your dog, who, let's be honest, is pretty weird, to begin with, might beeline straight for that floor you just bleached. 

The bad part about this? Your pup likely licks all that he or she smells, and bleach can be a dangerous thing to ingest. To get a better idea of why your dog is attracted to bleach, how well their sniffers operate, and how to tell if your dog might be suffering from bleach poisoning, read on!

Signs Your Dog is Suffering from Bleach Toxicity

We know you like a clean house - and we can't blame you - but unfortunately, bleach poisoning for dogs is a real thing and it can have very serious repercussions for your pooch. Lots of the products you use around your home will have bleach and ammonia in them, and unfortunately these are hazardous, toxic chemicals for your pup. 

Bleach poisoning happens when a dog ingests and absorbs a fair amount of bleach, usually resulting in a high level of toxicity. Your dog will let you know they're suffering from these issues with signs like coughing, lethargy, stomach pain, vomiting, sore throat, shock, burning, diarrhea, and agitation. 

It's also possible they'll experience much more intense symptoms like weak limbs, tremors, ulcerations on their mouth or paws, seizures, coma, and low blood pressure.

Body Language

These are a few body language cues your dog might be giving you to let you know that he or she is suffering from bleach toxicity, like:
  • Pupils dilated
  • Body freezing
  • Whale eye
  • Howling
  • Snapping
  • Whimpering
  • Shaking
  • Dropped Ears
  • Drooling
  • Twitching whiskers
  • Growling

Other Signs

That's not all you should be on the lookout for, though. Check for signs like:
  • Paw discoloration
  • Tremors
  • Lethargy and confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Sore throat
  • Shock
  • Coma
  • Ulcerations
  • Seizures
  • Low blood pressure

The History of Dogs and Bleach

When it comes right down to it, dogs are pretty attracted toward the very strong smell of bleach and ammonia. Unfortunately, your dog is very, very sensitive to these toxins and can face serious health issues if these toxins are ingested. What's worse? These toxins are in most of our household cleaning products. 

Some of the most common objects around the house that have historically caused bleach poisoning in pooches include things like paint thinner, toilet cleaner, gasoline, laundry detergent, dish-washing liquid, furniture polish, caustic soda, lye, and chlorine. But that's not all, oven cleaner, paint remover, floor polish, and drain cleaner also have significant amounts of bleach and ammonia in them.

The Science of Dogs and Bleach

You're very familiar with the smell of bleach and know you want to stay away from it, so it's probably puzzling that your dog is so attracted to it. Why, exactly, are dogs so interested in bleach, anyway? Well, for starters, let's break down what bleach is and why it's so smelly. 

Bleach is a chemical that's constructed to help clean, remove, or lighten colors, and because of that, it's very strong. Typically crafted with things like sodium persulfate, potassium, and lithium analogs, as well as chlorine and other oxidizing agents, this concoction carries a very strong smell. 

Your dog, being an animal led by sensory objectives, is always going to go where his or her nose takes him - AKA, the stronger (and often stinkier) the smell, the more your dog is going to be attracted to it. That's what makes yucky bleach so irresistible to dogs! The same smell that drives you away can't help but attract your pup.

Training Your Dog to Stay Away from Bleach

When it comes to keeping your dog safe from bleach, you can try to train him or her, but it's going to take some training on your part, too. Let's discuss that first. We recommend looking for natural cleaning products that won't harm your dog if they're ingested or absorbed. Because your dog is attracted to the very strong smell of bleach, it's better to use things that do not contain ingredients like bleach or ammonia. 

If, for some reason, you're not able to stay away from cleaning products with these toxins in them though, there are ways you can keep your dog from ingesting them. Try keeping your dog in his or her crate while you clean, and for a while after, to avoid any doggo-bleach-licking activities.

Better, if you live somewhere with safe weather, keep your pooch outside in the backyard all day while you clean. Also, if you're cleaning with bleach, make sure you're using plenty of water and drying materials after the bleach to pick up the residue the bleach may leave behind. Always leave windows and doors open to properly aerate your home while you clean. This is a safety tip for you, too! 

In order to train your pup to avoid bleach, consider making sure that they're very aware that "no" means no. If you see your dog poised to give your freshly bleached counter a lick, give them a firm, commanding "no" and ensure they understand the repercussions if they do not listen. Train your pooch to enjoy the outdoors too, that way you can clean all day with your pup outside and not worry about him or her ingesting the bad chemicals. 

Safety Tips for Using Bleach Around Dogs:

  • Only bleach areas your dog cannot reach.
  • If you plan to bleach the house, keep your dog outside for the day.
  • Have a bleach-ingestion emergency plan.
  • Talk to your vet about ways to avoid your dog ingesting bleach.
  • Choose safe, natural cleaners that will not hurt your pup in the event he or she licks them.