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Are Diffusers, Wallflowers and Room Sprays Toxic for Pets?

Updated: Feb 21

Who doesn't like their living room smelling fruity and fresh like a blooming garden? For this purpose, several products like scented candles, humidifiers, room sprays, and essential oil diffusers have been introduced into the market. While these products undoubtedly purify and give off a pleasant aura, pet owners must be extra cautious.

Pets, especially dogs and cats, have a powerful smelling sense, and even a tiny amount of these intense oils can aggravate harsh allergic reactions on the skin. When using diffusers, certain oils are pet-friendly that work well with pets, while some can be highly toxic for pets.

Are all essential oils toxic for pets?

Essential oils are the concentrated essence of various plants. These are used as a holistic approach for improving physical and mental health. People have also started using them on their pets. Ginger, Rosemary, Lavender oil, Fennel oil are some common examples of essential oils. Essential oils have shown mixed results, and science has limited studies to support this phenomenon.

dog nose is sensitive to smelling flower

Pets are sensitive. What works well with humans will not necessarily work with animals. Essential oils can cause an ugly allergic reaction even with mild oils to sensitive skin, whether of a pet or a human. Diffusers that use essential oils evaporate tiny droplets of diffused oils in the air, which can easily be ingested by pets and cause damage.

Pet owners need to consider their pet's possible reaction to using diffusers. Grooming animals such as dogs and cats are prone to getting harmful infections from these oils as they can ingest them by licking and cleaning their body. Other than cats, dogs have an incredible smelling sense, and even mildly considered scents can be extremely overwhelming for them.

Essential oils should not be used around pets with respiratory diseases like asthma and breathing problems.

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

These essential oils are absolutely toxic for your pets. Don't try using them; if your pet has ingested them by chance, visit your vet immediately.

Harmful essential oils for dogs

  • Pennyroyal oil

  • Sweet birch oil

  • Cassia oil

  • Pine oils

  • Melaleuca oil

  • Thyme oil

Harmful essential oils for cats

  • Fennel oil

  • Lemongrass oil

  • Eucalyptus oil

  • Peppermint oil

  • Sandalwood oil

  • Rosemary oil

Note: this is not a complete list. Please do your research before you use oils.

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.

Choice of Diffusers

The choice of diffusers can also play a significant part in aggravating an allergy. Active diffusers are usually more intense at releasing aroma in a short period. The fierce smell can be overpowering for pets like dogs and cats. In contrast, passive diffusers evaporate mild scents in the surrounding, which is a better choice to use around odor-sensitive pets.

dog at the vet from toxic diffusers

Are room fresheners harmful to pets?

Room fresheners have volatile organic compounds as their principal ingredient, which is dangerous as it is highly flammable. These compounds rapidly change their forms from liquid to gas and possess high vapor pressure. Birds, cats, and dogs are prone to ingesting the remnants of air spray as it falls on different surfaces. When consumed by, inhaling can raise several allergic reactions, including

  • Red and watery eyes

  • Weakness in muscles

  • Brain impairment

  • Fuzziness

Symptoms of Irritation and Poisoning if Exposed to Harmful Essential Oils

Adverse reactions to essential oils will appear in your pet in a few hours after inhalation or ingestion. Some of these symptoms can be immediate.

Upset Stomach:

Your pet will complain of stomach ache followed by diarrhea and vomiting. Excessive drooling is a visible sign of irritation.

Breathing Difficulties:

After inhalation, your pet might be having breathing problems. Signs like sneezing, coughing, and panting will appear.

dog with skin irritation itching

Skin irritation with allergic reaction around the face:

The eyes will turn watery and swollen. Your pet will have trouble opening the eyes, and there will be redness around the mouth.

Other symptoms include:

  • Fuzzy brain

  • Weak muscles

  • Low blood pressure

  • Tremors

  • Fatigue

  • Paralysis

  • Body turning yellow

  • Seizures

How do you treat essential oil poisoning?

As soon as you identify these symptoms as poisoning,

  • Take your pet into an open-air space.

  • If the skin has traces of toxic essential oil, immediately wash it with water and soap.

  • If the symptoms get worse or you have any concerns, visit your nearest vet.

Tips to keep the home smelling pleasant with pet-friendly alternatives

bees wax candle is safe for pets
  • Always go for pet-safe essential oils.

  • Bee, coconut or soy wax candles can clean the air naturally.

  • Clean air with air purifiers instead of using harmful sprays.

  • Diffuse safe oils with proper dilution. Keep the scent super mild

  • Grow fragrant herbs like mint or lavender. Make sure the plant you choose, is pet safe.

  • Use vinegar to clean counters to reduce smells from cleaning sprays.

Prevention Tips for Your pets

  • Look out for negative symptoms and possible reactions in your pet.

  • Don't allow direct contact of your pet's skin or fur with essential oils.

  • Avoid active diffusers; instead, go for passive diffusers to keep them mild.

  • Keep an open space for your pets to stay when using diffusers. Air out the stored scents before letting your pet inside the room.

  • Keep the oils and fragrance chemicals out of your pet's reach to avoid unintentional ingestion.

  • Avoid using coffee beans for fragrance due to risk of ingestion by pets.

  • If you plan on cleaning for the day, take your dog outside or to a doggy daycare.

Lastly, pet owners must be very cautious while using diffusers around pets as some of these oils can provoke chemical burns and irritation around the body. Fortunately, some choices in essential oils have been termed pet friendly. However, close observation should be made after using them to be better safe than sorry.

We offer safe and effective aromatherapy for your four legged babies. This is an add on to our acupressure or red light therapy sessions. We offer sessions local to the Charlotte, NC and surrounding areas. We do travel to greater distances on occasion. Contact us to schedule a session with aromatherapy add on!

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