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Are Diffusers, Wallflowers and Room Sprays Toxic for Pets?

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

green diffuser has essential oils in it that could be harmful to pets

Who doesn't revel in the idea of their living room becoming a fragrant haven, reminiscent of a blooming garden or a basket of freshly picked fruits? The market, quick to cater to this desire for olfactory delights, has flooded us with an array of enticing products – scented candles, humidifiers, room sprays, and essential oil diffusers. These offerings promise to not only purify the air but also envelop our spaces in a pleasant and inviting aura.

However, amid the aromatic symphony, there's a caveat that every pet owner must heed. Our beloved furry companions, particularly dogs and cats, possess a heightened sense of smell that can turn even the most subtle scent into a sensory explosion. As pet enthusiasts indulge in the delightful world of scented products, an extra layer of caution becomes imperative.

Pets, with their powerful noses and sensitive skin, face a unique challenge in homes adorned with these aromatic enhancements. Even minuscule amounts of the intense oils prevalent in such products can trigger severe allergic reactions, especially on their delicate skin. The seemingly innocuous act of using a diffuser, often a staple in creating a fragrant haven, becomes a potential minefield for pet owners.

As we delve into the world of diffusers, it becomes evident that not all essential oils are created equal when it comes to our furry friends. Some oils are not only pet-friendly but can complement their well-being, while others harbor the risk of toxicity, casting a shadow on the aromatic bliss we seek.

Join us on this aromatic journey, where we unravel the complexities of pet-friendly scents and discover the delicate balance between creating a fragrant home and ensuring the health and happiness of our four-legged companions. In this exploration, we'll uncover the nuances of essential oils, delve into prevention strategies, and ultimately, strike the perfect chord where scents and pet safety harmoniously coexist.

Are all essential oils toxic for pets?

Let's talk essential oils! These tiny powerhouses are extracted from plants, carrying the concentrated essence of their fragrances. People love them for their holistic approach to improving physical and mental health, and it's no surprise that pet owners have hopped on the aromatic bandwagon. Ginger, Rosemary, Lavender oil, and Fennel oil are some common examples that have found their way into both our homes and our furry friends' spaces.

However, here's the real talk – essential oils are a bit like the mysterious elixirs in old stories. While they have shown some promising effects on humans, the scientific jury is still out, and studies are limited.

dog nose is sensitive to smelling flower

Pets, with their inherent sensitivity, play by different rules when it comes to essential oils. Even seemingly mild oils can lead to an ugly allergic reaction on their delicate skin. The plot thickens when we introduce the popular diffusers into the mix. These devices, beloved for wafting pleasant scents throughout our homes, may inadvertently cause drama for our pets.

Picture this: our grooming gurus – dogs and cats – innocently cleaning themselves, unknowingly ingesting traces of essential oils. Not the serene scene we envisioned, right? Dogs and cats are prone to getting harmful infections or allergic reactions from these oils when ingested by licking and cleaning their body.

And let's not forget our canine companions with their superhero sense of smell. Even mildly considered scents can be overpowering for these furry detectives.

For pets with respiratory issues like asthma or general breathing problems, essential oils should be approached with caution. What invigorates us might pose a respiratory roadblock for them.

So, here's the bottom line for pet owners: Before transforming your space into an aromatic haven, consider your furball's sensitivities. When in doubt, a vet consultation is always a wise move. Our homes should be cozy havens for both us and our beloved pets. Stay scent-sible, friends!

lavender is a safe essential oil for dogs

While many essential oils should be avoided around pets, there are specific non-toxic alternatives that can be used in diffusers around pets:

  • Frankincense

  • Lavender oil

  • Chamomile

Although you should always look for your pet's reaction when using these oils. They will leave the room and get irritated if they don't like it. Here is a list of approved essential oils for dogs, cats and horses.

Toxic Essential Oils for Pets

We all know that essential oils can turn a room into a paradise of calming scents, but not all oils are created equal, especially when it comes to our four-legged companions. Here's a quick sniff of the essential oils that are a big no-no for your pets:

dog holding a flower could be a harmful essential oil plant

Harmful Essential Oils for Dogs

  • Pennyroyal Oil: Known for causing serious liver issues in our canine friends.

  • Sweet Birch Oil: Contains compounds that can lead to digestive problems and more for dogs.

  • Cassia Oil: A cousin of cinnamon, but too potent for dogs and can cause irritation.

  • Pine Oils: Can lead to respiratory issues and discomfort in dogs.

  • Melaleuca Oil (Tea Tree Oil): While it has some antiseptic properties, it's not so friendly to pets. Keep it away!

  • Thyme Oil: Thyme may be great for flavoring, but its essential oil can upset your dog's stomach.

Harmful Essential Oils for Cats

  • Fennel Oil: Can disrupt a cat's digestive system and cause discomfort.

  • Lemongrass Oil: Known to cause skin irritation and digestive issues in our feline friends.

  • Eucalyptus Oil: A common ingredient in many home products, but toxic to cats and can lead to respiratory distress.

  • Peppermint Oil: The cooling effect may be great for us, but not so much for our kitties.

  • Sandalwood Oil: Can cause lethargy and vomiting in cats.

  • Rosemary Oil: A kitchen favorite, but the essential oil can lead to stomach upset and more in cats.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list. Always do your homework before bringing a new oil into your home. If in doubt, consult your vet pronto!

Are 'Wallflowers' from Bath and Body Works safe for pets?

bath and body works wallflower toxic to pets
Photo credit: Bath and Body Works

The Bath and Body Works Wallflower is a plug-in-air freshener that has received negative feedback from pet owners. Despite their pretty packaging and heavenly scents, they are not safe to be continuously used throughout the day.

Many pet owners have reported scents' adverse reactions to cats and dogs. The toxins produced by the Wallflower caused pets, especially cats and birds, to constantly vomit until the Wallflower was removed from their sight. Moreover, the rise in asthma cases has been seen in cats exposed to particular toxins found in wallflowers.

If you are to use the Wallflowers, think about putting the plug-in in a higher location. Also, do not use them in every room. This allows your pet access to more scent free rooms to take a break or get away from the smells. But always look at the ingredients to be sure it doesn't include oils toxic to your pet.

Choosing the Right Diffuser

Now, let's talk about the unsung heroes of aromatic ambiance – diffusers. Turns out, the type of diffuser you choose can be a silent conductor in the symphony of scents, influencing the harmony or discord in your pet-friendly abode.

Active Diffusers

These are the eager beavers of the diffuser world, releasing a concentrated burst of aroma in a short period. While this might be the dream for us scent enthusiasts, it can be a bit much for our furry friends. The intense smell they emit can be downright overpowering, especially for pets with noses that rival the best detectives.

Passive Diffusers

Picture a gentle breeze carrying a subtle hint of fragrance – that's the magic of passive diffusers. These diffusers evaporate mild scents into the air over time, creating a more gradual and subtle aromatic experience. And here's the golden nugget – they are a better choice around pets, especially those with a delicate sniffer or a penchant for being easily overwhelmed by strong odors.

So, when setting the stage for your home's aromatic performance, consider the role your diffuser is playing. Opting for a passive diffuser can be the key to a fragrant but fur-friendly atmosphere. After all, it's all about creating a harmonious space where scents and pets coexist in perfect harmony.

Are room fresheners harmful to pets?

dog at the vet from toxic diffusers

Ah, room fresheners – the quick fix for a burst of delightful fragrance. But here's the twist in the tale when it comes to our pets, particularly birds, cats, and dogs. The culprit? Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), the main ingredients in many room fresheners.

VOCs: The Stealthy Culprits

VOCs are like the secret agents of room fresheners. They're highly flammable and can rapidly shift from liquid to gas, boasting a high vapor pressure. Now, this might sound like a chemistry lesson, but here's the translation: it's not great news for our pets.

Ingestion Risks for Pets

Pets, being the curious creatures they are, can be prone to ingesting the remnants of air spray. As these scented particles settle on various surfaces, they become an unintended treat for your furry friends. Birds, cats, and dogs might find these invisible drops on countertops or floors too tempting to resist.

Allergic Reactions

Inhaling or ingesting VOCs can orchestrate a not-so-harmonious symphony of allergic reactions in our pets. Picture this:

  • Red and Watery Eyes: The eyes, the windows to their souls, might reflect discomfort with redness and watering.

  • Weakness in Muscles: A pet's usual playfulness could take a hit as VOC exposure might lead to weakness in their muscles.

  • Brain Impairment: Yes, you read that right. VOCs can potentially affect cognitive functions, causing a foggy-headed feeling for your pets.

  • Overall Fuzziness: It's not the adorable fuzziness we love in our pets. Instead, it's a general sense of discomfort and confusion caused by exposure to harmful compounds.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to room fresheners, it's not just about creating a pleasing atmosphere but ensuring that the air they freshen is safe for our furry companions. Consider pet-friendly alternatives or opt for natural ways to keep your space smelling delightful. After all, a fragrant home should be synonymous with a safe and happy haven for both you and your pets.

Symptoms of Irritation and Poisoning if Exposed to Harmful Essential Oils

Essential oils, touted for their therapeutic properties, can turn into a pet parent's nightmare if not handled with care. If your furry friend has had an unintended rendezvous with harmful essential oils, the signs of distress may manifest within a few hours. Here's a guide to decoding the red flags:

Immediate Distress Signals

  • Upset Stomach: Your pet might voice their discomfort through stomach ache, swiftly followed by bouts of diarrhea and vomiting. Keep a close eye if you notice excessive drooling, a telltale sign of irritation.

  • Breathing Difficulties: Inhalation of toxic oils can lead to breathing problems. Watch out for signs like sneezing, coughing, and unusual panting, indicating respiratory distress in your pet.

  • Skin Irritation with Allergic Reactions: A visual cue of trouble, your pet's eyes may become watery and swollen. Opening their eyes might be a challenge, and redness around the mouth could signal an allergic reaction.

dog with skin irritation itching

Other Distressing Symptoms

  • Fuzzy Brain: Essential oils affecting cognitive function might leave your pet in a state of confusion or disorientation.

  • Weak Muscles: Your once energetic companion may exhibit weakness in their muscles, hindering their usual playfulness.

  • Low Blood Pressure: A drop in blood pressure could contribute to your pet's lethargy and overall lack of energy.

  • Tremors: Uncontrollable shaking or tremors may occur, indicating a neurological response to toxic exposure.

  • Fatigue: Your pet might show signs of extreme tiredness or lethargy, struggling to keep up with their usual activities.

  • Paralysis: In severe cases, exposure to harmful essential oils may lead to paralysis, a serious and distressing condition for both pet and owner.

  • Yellowing of the Body: A yellow tint to the skin or eyes could signify liver issues, a potential consequence of essential oil toxicity.

  • Seizures: The most alarming symptom, seizures, demand immediate attention and veterinary care.

Immediate Action is Crucial!

If you observe any of these symptoms, don't delay. Seek veterinary assistance promptly. Time is of the essence in mitigating the impact of essential oil exposure on your beloved pet's health. Stay vigilant, and remember – when in doubt, it's always safer to consult with your veterinarian.

How do you treat essential oil poisoning?

Discovering that your pet has fallen victim to essential oil poisoning can be a heart-stopping moment. But fear not, swift action can make all the difference. Here's your go-to guide on how to tackle essential oil poisoning in your furry friend:

  1. Evacuate to Open Air: The first move is to get your pet to safety. If you suspect essential oil poisoning, take them to an open-air space immediately. Fresh air can help disperse any lingering toxic fumes and aid your pet in breathing more comfortably.

  2. Rinse Away the Trouble: If you notice traces of toxic essential oil on your pet's skin, don't hesitate – wash it away. Use water and a mild soap to thoroughly clean their fur and skin. This simple yet crucial step can prevent further absorption of harmful substances.

  3. Monitor and Assess: Keep a close eye on your pet's condition. If symptoms persist, worsen, or if you have any doubts about their well-being, it's time for the next crucial step.

  4. Seek Professional Help:

When in doubt, head to your nearest vet. Veterinarians are the unsung heroes of pet health, and they are equipped to provide the necessary care and interventions. Essential oil poisoning can have serious consequences, and a vet's expertise is invaluable in navigating this challenging situation.

Remember: Time is of the Essence!

Swift action is the key to mitigating the impact of essential oil poisoning. Your pet's health is non-negotiable, and professional guidance is crucial. Never hesitate to consult your vet, even if you're uncertain – it's always better to be safe than sorry. Keep your pet safe, and may their health always take center stage.

Tips to Keep the Home Smelling Pleasant with Pet-Friendly Alternatives

Creating a delightful ambiance in your home doesn't have to come at the expense of your pet's well-being. Here are some tips to keep the air smelling sweet while ensuring your furry companions stay happy and healthy:

Pet-Safe Essential Oils

Choose your essential oils wisely. Opt for pet-safe varieties like lavender, chamomile, and frankincense. These gentle scents can still transform your space without posing a threat to your pets. Always check for safety guidelines and dilute them appropriately before use.

bees wax candle is safe for pets

Beeswax, Coconut, or Soy Wax Candles

Swap out traditional candles for those made from beeswax, coconut, or soy wax. Not only do they emit a warm, inviting glow, but these candles also clean the air naturally. Steer clear of paraffin candles, which can release harmful chemicals when burned.

Harness the Power of Air Purifiers

Ditch the harmful sprays and embrace the wonders of air purifiers. These devices are champions at cleansing the air of unwanted odors and pollutants. They provide a constant stream of fresh air without compromising your pet's respiratory health.

Diluted, Gentle Diffusion

If you're a fan of diffusers, ensure you're using pet-friendly oils and diluting them properly. Keep the scent mild to prevent overwhelming your pets' sensitive noses. A subtle diffusion of lavender or eucalyptus can create a tranquil environment without causing any distress.

mint plant can provide good pet-safe smells for your home

Grow Your Own Fragrance

Bring the outdoors in by cultivating fragrant herbs like mint or lavender. Not only do they add a burst of natural aroma, but they also make for lovely green companions. Just ensure the plants you choose are pet-safe, and place them in areas where your pets can't nibble on them.

Vinegar: The Unsung Cleaning Hero

When it comes to cleaning, vinegar is your go-to ally. Use it to wipe down counters and surfaces to reduce smells from cleaning sprays. It's a natural deodorizer and safer for your pets than chemical-laden cleaners.

Remember: Harmony is Key!

Creating a fragrant and pet-friendly home is all about finding that sweet spot where scents and safety coexist. With these alternatives, you can fill your space with inviting aromas while ensuring your pets roam in a harmonious and healthy environment.

DIY Pet-Friendly Scents: Crafting Aroma with Care

Creating a fragrant haven at home need not involve commercial products laden with potential pet hazards. Embrace the art of DIY with these simple recipes and natural methods that promise aromatic bliss while keeping your pets safe and happy:

Citrus Infusion:


  • Citrus peels (lemon, orange, or grapefruit)

  • Water

Instructions: Place citrus peels in a pot, cover with water, and simmer on low heat. The gentle citrus aroma will waft through your home, offering a refreshing scent without the risks associated with essential oils.

Herbal Bouquet:


  • Fresh herbs (mint, rosemary, or basil)

  • Water

Instructions: Bundle fresh herbs together and place them in a vase with water. The natural fragrance of herbs not only provides a pleasant aroma but also adds a touch of greenery to your space.

Baking Soda Freshness:


  • Baking soda

  • Essential oil (pet-safe, if desired)

Instructions: Mix baking soda with a few drops of pet-safe essential oil, if you choose to use it. Place the mixture in open containers around your home, absorbing odors while emitting a subtle scent.

Lavender Linen Spray:


  • Lavender buds or essential oil

  • Distilled water

Instructions: Steep lavender buds in distilled water or add a few drops of lavender essential oil. Transfer the mixture to a spray bottle and lightly mist your pet's bedding or around the house for a calming lavender aroma.

Eucalyptus Elegance:


  • Eucalyptus leaves or essential oil

  • Water

Instructions: Similar to the citrus infusion, simmer eucalyptus leaves in water for a soothing and invigorating scent. Ensure your pets have access to fresh air during this process.

Vanilla Delight:


  • Vanilla extract

  • Cotton balls

Instructions: Dip cotton balls in vanilla extract and place them in discreet corners. The subtle sweetness of vanilla adds a comforting fragrance without overwhelming your pets.

Remember, moderation is key, and always observe your pet's reactions to ensure they are comfortable with the chosen scents. With these DIY pet-friendly scents, you can elevate your home's atmosphere while prioritizing the well-being of your furry companions. Enjoy the aroma and the joy of a pet-safe environment!

Safeguarding Furry Friends: Essential Prevention Tips for Pet Owners

Being a vigilant pet owner involves more than cuddles and treats; it means taking proactive steps to ensure your pet's well-being, especially when it comes to potential hazards like essential oils. Here are some prevention tips to keep your furry friends safe:

  • Watch for Warning Signs: Stay attuned to your pet's behavior. If you notice any negative symptoms or unusual reactions, be it lethargy, excessive drooling, or respiratory distress, it's time to investigate and, if needed, seek veterinary attention.

  • No Direct Contact with Essential Oils: Essential oils are potent, and direct contact with your pet's skin or fur can lead to irritation or toxicity. Avoid applying oils directly to your pet, and if you're using them in your home, ensure they are safely diffused.

  • Opt for Passive Diffusers: Choose the gentle route with passive diffusers. Active ones can release an intense burst of scent, potentially overwhelming your pets. Passive diffusers disperse milder fragrances, creating a more pet-friendly atmosphere.

  • Create Open Spaces: Give your pets room to breathe. When using diffusers, designate open spaces for your pets to stay. Before letting them back into the room, ensure the air is clear and scents have dissipated.

  • Keep Oils and Fragrances Out of Reach: Pets are curious, and their curiosity can sometimes lead to unintended ingestion. Keep essential oils and fragrance chemicals out of your pet's reach to prevent accidental ingestion and potential harm.

  • Skip the Coffee Beans: As tempting as it may be to use coffee beans for a pleasant aroma, resist the urge. Coffee beans pose a risk of ingestion by pets, and we certainly don't want them sipping on a cup of joe!

  • Plan for Cleaning Days: If a cleaning day is on the agenda, consider taking your dog outside or to a doggy daycare. Cleaning products, even those deemed safe for pets, can introduce unfamiliar scents that may not sit well with your furry companion.

  • Exercise Caution with Diffusers: While some essential oils are deemed pet-friendly, exercise caution when using diffusers around your pets. Certain oils can provoke chemical burns and irritation. Even with pet-friendly choices, closely observe your pets after use to ensure their well-being.

  • Be Mindful of Pet Sensitivities: Every pet is unique, and their sensitivities can vary. Keep a keen eye on your pet's individual reactions to scents. If you notice any signs of discomfort or unusual behavior, adjust your fragrance choices accordingly.

  • Consult Your Veterinarian: Before introducing any new scents or essential oils into your home, especially if you're unsure about their safety, consult your veterinarian. They can provide tailored advice based on your pet's specific health conditions and sensitivities.

  • Introduce Gradually: If you're incorporating new fragrances or essential oils into your home, do so gradually. This allows your pets to acclimate to the new scents without feeling overwhelmed. Monitor their reactions during this introduction period.

  • Provide Safe Retreats: Even with pet-friendly scents, some pets might prefer a fragrance-free zone. Designate certain areas in your home as retreats where your pets can escape from scents if they choose to.

Remember: A Happy and Healthy Home for All!

Prevention is the key to a harmonious home where both scents and pets coexist seamlessly. By implementing these tips, you're not only creating a safe haven for your furry friends but also fostering an environment where their well-being takes center stage.

Enhance Your Pet's Wellness Journey with Aromatherapy

We go beyond the ordinary to provide holistic well-being for your cherished four-legged companions. Introducing our exclusive aromatherapy sessions, a safe and effective addition to our acclaimed acupressure or red light therapy offerings.

Why Choose Our Aromatherapy Sessions?

  • Tailored for Pets: Our aromatherapy sessions are specially crafted with your pets in mind. We use pet-friendly scents to create a calming and soothing environment.

  • Holistic Approach: Combined with our renowned acupressure or red light therapy, our aromatherapy sessions offer a comprehensive approach to pet wellness, addressing both physical and emotional needs.

  • Local and Beyond: Based in Charlotte, NC, and surrounding areas, our services extend to greater distances upon request. We're dedicated to bringing our unique blend of therapies to pets far and wide.

How to Schedule a Session:

Ready to treat your pet to the benefits of aromatherapy? Contact us today to schedule a session with our aromatherapy add-on. Elevate your pet's well-being with the soothing scents and expert care they deserve.

cat laying on his back enjoying aromatherapy

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