Does An Air Purifier Help With Dog Smell?

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I must say, if you keep your dog indoors dog smells have got to be one of the worst experiences. Fortunately, there are ways to manage the smell but can an air purifier help? To answer your question, in this post I share with you everything you need to know about air purifiers and dealing with dog smell.

But before you get into the details, in short, does an air purifier help with dog smell? An air purifier helps with dog smells but not all types of air purifiers will work. The best type of air purifiers for dog smell include activated carbon, ozone, and PCO air purifiers. Air purifiers work for dog smell but should be used with other measures for best results.

As much as there are air purifiers that will help you, it’s important to note that they won’t get rid of 100% of the smell. To use air purifiers effectively when trying to eliminate dog smell, the first thing you need to know is where your dog smell is coming from.

Once you know what is making your dog smell, you will then be able to determine what kind of air purifier you need or whether you even need an air purifier as you may find you can actually fix the problem in another way.

Accordingly in this post, I go over what could be the source of your dog smell, what kind of air purifier you could get to help you, how to best to use your air purifier and finally, alternative steps you can take in conjunction with using your air purifier to get rid of the smell. 

What Exactly Is Causing Your Dog Smell?

From my experience as a dog owner, I found that dog odor either comes directly from your dog’s body or from the space your dog spends a lot of time in. The worst time for me when it comes to dog smells is when it rains. I don’t know what happens but when my dogs get wet from rain, they smell so bad I don’t want them anywhere near the house.

Not all dogs smell bad when they get rained on, but this is a common source of dog smell. If we get a bit more scientific, apparently dogs have scent glands in their skin, that secrete a strong-smelling oil that you eventually smell after they get rained on.

Also, linked to your dog’s scent glands is its diet. When dogs are fed certain foods apparently the odor stemming from their scent gland secretions changes accordingly. People have commonly found when their dogs eat food containing fish meal or oil, they start to smell bad.

Furthermore, remember that for dogs, their skin and hair are also a way that their body removes impurities and also serve as excretory organs. Consequently, some foods they eat may cause them to smell terrible through their skin and fur.

Your dog could also be smelling bad because it has flatulence and this is again often linked to diet. Besides that, your dog’s smell may also be because it has health problems affecting its skin or teeth. With dental issues, the result is usually bad breath and this could stick to your dog’s fur as it licks itself and eventually you smell the bad odor around your house.

Dogs also obviously smell bad if they have not been groomed or had a wash in a while. Food and all sorts of organic stuff stick to your dog’s fur and if they stay there for too long, they start to smell as they decompose on your dog’s body.

If your dog’s body smells, the stench from its body can stick on surfaces around your home where your dog rubs against or spends the most time. Besides this, your dog may simply spray urine to mark its territory in your home and or take a dump in your house and if this happens often, the smell starts to stick and become persistent. 

Air purifiers will help you mostly for cases whereby the smell is largely from your dog’s environment. With smells directly from your dog’s body, air purifiers will clear the air but you will obviously still smell your dog if it is close enough.

However, you might find yourself in a situation whereby your dog’s odor is so bad that even way after you have cleaned up, your furniture and carpets continue to smell. 

In such a case the benefits of an air purifier will be limited. Your air might get constantly cleared of the stench, but you continue to smell your dog’s odor whenever you are close to the source or when your air purifier is off.

Keeping all this in mind, the trick in getting rid of dog smell with air purifiers is identifying the cause of your dog smell and killing or limiting the smell at the source while your air purifier deals with the odor-causing particles in the air stemming from either your dog’s body or living space.

What Type Of Air Purifier Is Best For Dog Smell?

I have now shown you what causes dog smells and how air purifiers can accordingly help. With this knowledge, I believe you are now ready to understand what type of air purifier will help you. 

Now, when it comes to dog smells, whatever the source, the odors coming from your dog are volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are gaseous pollutants made of very small molecules and to get rid of dog smell you will need an air purifier that gets rid of VOCs.

Some air purifiers do an amazing job when it comes to removing or destroying VOCs, while others are absolutely useless. The types of air purifiers that work best for VOCs (i.e. dog smells) include Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO) air purifiers, Activated Carbon air purifiers and Ozone Generators. 

If you come across ionic air purifiers, UV light air purifiers, or the common HEPA air purifier in your search for a suitable purifier these are going to be absolutely useless in helping you eliminate your dog’s poor odor. So, run far away if anyone claims these will help you.

Now let’s look at the 3 types of air purifiers that will help you with dog smell in more detail.

Photocatalytic Oxidation Air Purifiers

PCO air purifiers are very effective against VOCs and are sure to get rid of any dog smell lingering in your indoor air. They use UV lamps but unlike normal UV air purifiers, they use UV lamps with additional wavelengths and broad-spectrum as compared to ordinary UV lamps. 

This makes their purification process so powerful enough that they can get rid of toxic gases and dangerous airborne particles in your home. 

Within the core of a PCO purifier, you will find a film of titanium dioxide which when exposed to its broad-spectrum UV light causes a reaction that burns pollutants and VOCs sucked out of your indoor air and through your device. PCO air purifiers convert harmful particulates and toxic gases (dog smells included) into safer compounds such as carbon dioxide and water.

Activated Carbon Air Purifiers

Activated carbon air purifiers are another key type of air purifier for addressing dog smells. These air purifiers come either containing a pure activated carbon filter or more commonly with a combination of a carbon and HEPA filter within your device’s filtration core. They are designed to get rid of VOCs and will deal with dog smells quite well.

They work by a process called adsorption in which they capture odor-causing molecules and trap them within the carbon filter. The filter, however, has to replaced as it becomes saturated over time and fails to trap more pollutants and you will notice your dog smell resurfacing once this happens. 

Ozone Generator

Lastly, to help you with dog smell you can try an ozone generator. This kind of air purifier removes VOCs not only from the air but also on some surfaces by oxidizing them and turning them into different molecules. 

Ozone generators release ozone into the air which reacts with airborne pollutants and some surface pollutants and neutralizes them through a process of oxidation. Ozone generators work well for odor as the ozone they release into your indoor air has strong cleaning properties and they actually leave your room with a fresh and clean chlorine-like smell.

Of the three types of air purifiers that work for dog smell, I personally prefer the activated carbon air purifier as it is the most common and easiest to maintain. PCO air purifiers work really well but these devices are very unique and not as common.

The uniqueness of PCO air purifiers means that whenever you need to maintain them, you have to get whatever spare part you need from your device manufacturer as generic spares are not available. On the other hand for activated carbon air purifiers, you can more easily find generic parts and retrofit filters if you cannot find original parts from your manufacturer.

What’s great about PCO air purifiers though is they can go over 2 years without needing any part replacements. With most activated carbon air purifiers you need to replace filters every 3 months or so.

As for ozone generators, I really do not recommend these as ozone is actually a dangerous chemical. It can kill small pets and irritate your lungs. More seriously if you have anyone with asthma or any type of breathing condition, ozone can make it worse. 

That said, ozone generators are effective for getting rid of dog smell in your home or dog kennel. You just need to know how to use it safely and I explain how in the next section. All in all, I am biased towards activated carbon air purifiers to deal with dog smells indoors.

Some awesome activated carbon devices I have heard good things about for dog smell include the Hamilton Beach True Air Purifier, and the Winix WAC9500 Ultimate Pet True HEPA Air Cleaner. That said, you should be able to fare well against dog odor with any air purifiers that contain a heavy activated carbon filter. 

You can find out more about the activated carbon air purifiers I recommend for odors here.

How To Use An Air Purifier To Get Rid Of Dog Smell?

When you finally get your air purifier and you are ready to run it, depending on the type of air purifier you got, there are a couple of things you have to do to use them effectively. Let us start with ozone generators. 

As I said earlier, ozone generators are dangerous machines and you need to be extra careful when you are using them. The first thing I tell everyone who asks about ozone generators is “do not use an ozone generator if you live with anyone with a breathing condition.” This applies at home or wherever you need to get rid of dog smell.

If there is no one with any breathing condition sharing your space, then when you decide to use an ozone generator the first step is to ensure that there is no one including pets in the room where you decide to place it in. 

You can run your ozone generator for half a day or for a full day and this should get rid of the smell. If you want to run the purifier across your entire home, I have found the best approach is to plan a day away for yourself and your family. 

By doing that you make sure no one is home and you can actually run multiple devices at the same time to save time covering your entire house.

Be sure to leave home early to give your ozone generators a longer period to work over the course of the day. Then an hour or two before everyone comes back home, stop running the devices so that you do not come back to a home ridden with ozone. 

If you think this is such a process but you would still like to use ozone generators to get rid of dog smell, the other option is to hire a professional cleaning service to do it for you. The beauty of ozone is that you only need to run it once or twice every 3 months or so. This is, of course, assuming that you have also dealt with the source of your dog’s odor.

The other types of air purifiers are much easier to use. For activated carbon and PCO air purifiers you need to ensure you get the right size air purifier. If your air purifier is too small for the area infested with dog odor, it will not really help to get rid of the bad smell. 

Wherever you decide to plug in your PCO or activated carbon air purifier make sure it is well-positioned free of any obstructions to its airflow. You also want to place it away from busy areas but as close as possible to the source of the smell if it's coming from a fixed area. 

You can learn more about positioning your air purifier for best results here. In addition to positioning your air purifier well, you should also ensure you run your air purifier 24 hours a day as you initially try to get rid of your dog’s bad smell around your home.

Make sure you maintain your device by either cleaning your filters or replacing them as recommended in your device’s manual. This will ensure your device works properly year-round.

Finally, you have to be patient with both PCO and activated carbon air purifiers. Unlike Ozone generators which work more immediately, give PCO and activated carbon air purifiers at least a couple of days to get rid of your dog smell. 

If your device does not work within a week then either you have not dealt with the cause of your dog smell at the source or something is wrong with your air purifier. It might not be large enough, or it might not be well-positioned, or it simply does not work.

Other Things To Consider In Addition To Using An Air Purifier

Keeping in mind that air purifiers are designed to mainly deal with airborne odor-causing molecules, below is a list of other measures you should consider in getting rid of dog smell whether this is at home or if you own a dog kennel. These measures all entail addressing the problem at the source. 

In order to effectively get rid of dog smell with air purifiers, you should additionally:

  1. Clean up your dog’s urine and fecal accidents immediately
  2. House train your dogs
  3. Bath and groom your dogs on a recommended schedule
  4. Wash your dog’s bedding and your beddings if you allow your dog on your bed
  5. Clean your furniture and the area where your dogs spend a lot of time with odor cleansing detergents
  6. Use a blacklight to detect urine you may have missed
  7. Ventilate your home or whatever space you need to get rid of dog odors from
  8. Use a high-quality vacuum cleaner  with a HEPA filter
  9. Change your dog food 
  10. Take your dog to the vet to check if it has an odor-causing dental, skin or gut condition that can be cured.

To sum up, if you implement good pet hygiene and good-housekeeping measures and run a reliable air purifier in your home, you are well on your way to having your air purifier ensure that your home remains free of bad dog odor.

About the Author


Jean is a research economist by profession and he runs Fresh Air Genie. He is enthusiastic about maintaining good air quality at home and on the go and he shares his knowledge about this here at Fresh Air Genie.

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