Are air fresheners safe for dogs? As a dog owner, I fret about just about everything in my dogs’ environments, making sure their food and treats are the best ingredients, my cleaners are safe, and that everything toxic to them is far from their reach. Yet, it wasn’t until recently that I started thinking about air fresheners and candles I use in my home. I am the girl that uses essential oil diffusers and candles to freshen her home, especially after reading about some of the toxic chemicals in air fresheners for both humans and pets. When the government is still trying to determine the dangers of these products, I decided to play it safe and go more natural. Unfortunately, I learned that this isn’t always a safe option either since some essential oils are toxic to dog and cats. So, what is the best option for us dog parents?
What Are The Dangers of Air Fresheners
Most of the danger when it comes to commercial air fresheners are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). So what are VOCs? Honestly, I think PetMD explains it best:
According to Dr. Mahaney, one of the main offenders in the ingredient list for most air fresheners are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). VOCs are organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at room temperature due to a low boiling point. This causes these compounds to easily evaporate from a solid or liquid form into the air. This transformation is called votility. In other words, volatility is just what air fresheners are meant to do: break down from one form and dissipate into the air, thereby changing its scent.
Unfortunately, this is the same volatility that occurs in paints and varnishes, fossil fuels, benzene, formaldehyde, refrigerants, aerosol propulsion, cigarette smoke, and the dry cleaning process. You wouldn’t open a can of paint in your living room to improve the quality of the air, but this isn’t too far removed from what happens when you break out an air freshener.
These substances can cause a laundry list of maladies. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the health effects of VOCs may include:
Eye, nose and throat irritation
Headaches, loss of coordination and nausea
Damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system
Some organics can cause cancer in animals, some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.
Honestly, this I think this is quite frightening. While you can take the risk of having air fresheners in your home, I would much prefer going the natural route with essential oils. The trick is just making sure you avoid essential oils that are not safe for pets!
Toxic Essential Oils for Pets
Before you go tossing out of all of your essential oils, don’t panic. Not all essential oils are toxic to pets and your environment. Here is a list of the essential oils that are dangerous for pets.
Essential Oils Dangerous to Dogs
Essential Oils Dangerous to Cats
- Tea tree
Another important thing to consider when using essential oils with your pets is making sure you are getting them from a reputable source. While you can find essential oils is just about any store today, not all of them are pure essential oils, meaning they have fillers, stabilizers, and other chemicals added to give the essential oils a longer shelf life. Even though this may lower the price, it means that they may be unsafe in certain conditions or weren’t tested at all, something that is pretty frightening. That doesn’t mean you have to pay ridiculous prices for your essential oils, make sure you are purchasing from a reputable brand with quality controls in place.
Air Freshener That Are Safe For Dogs
To be safe, I usually try avoiding most air fresheners for the girls’ sake and avoiding indoor pollutants in the home. When it is pretty outside, I take the most natural, safe approach – opening a window and letting fresh air in the house. Of course, this isn’t always an option.
Like all dog moms, though, that isn’t always an option. I usually try going for more natural approaches, such as:
Boiling Fresh Herbs (Mint, Rosemary, etc.)
Dealing with Smells with Baking Soda
When purchasing air fresheners, this is where it gets a bit trickier. When it comes to air fresheners, my personal favorite would be Fresh Wave, as it is entirely safe for animals and completely plant-based. For other products, I check carefully, looking at the ingredients.
As well, never be afraid to ask your veterinarian, especially if you have a pet with allergies. When it comes to your pet, they always have their best interests in mind, and remember, they are pet owners too!