Q: I have two dogs and two cats (none of which I bring backpacking), which means I have lots of animal hair and dander throughout the house and on my clothing. Will these scents attract you as a potential food source while I enjoy the great outdoors?—Ross Bruneau, via email
A: Two dogs and two cats? That sounds like more work than keeping me as a pet.
In all likelihood, you have very little to worry about. While my nose is certainly strong enough to potentially detect those scents, they’re likely to be overwhelmed by smells coming from you—deodorant, food smells, your natural funk, etc. In the panoply of things I can detect, it’s probably best for you to focus on eliminating and properly storing stronger smells (like your own food sources) than worrying about dog or cat hair or dander.
I’m sometimes attracted to pets, but that usually has to do with the scent of their presence, food, or noises they might make rather than the particular scent on their fur. That said, it’s probably best to just get into the habit of keeping your gear as clean and odor-free as possible. It’ll lower the possibility of bringing attractive scents into the backcountry, and it’ll keep your gear working longer to boot.
Think about it: The amount of hair on your head or body (which I could theoretically also smell) is probably more than any animal hair in your tent or on your gear. If not, then you have bigger much problems to worry about than me. Time to invest in a lint roller, Fuzzy.
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