We all want our homes to smell lovely, so many of us regularly use air fresheners to eliminate odors from cooking, tobacco smoke, dogs, etc. However, what we don’t often think about is that air fresheners fill the air with chemicals that can be detrimental to the quality of the indoor air. This is especially true for dog owners who might not consider how negative this could be for their furry friend.
So, what should you look for when buying an air freshener if you have dogs? In this article, we’ll go over some things to keep in mind, as well as safe air freshener brands and products you can use in your home.
Table of contents
Is it best to choose an organic air freshener?
Consumers often think that air fresheners that are ‘natural’, especially when they are described as containing ‘essential oils’ are ideal. Although essential oils are derived from flowers, berries, woods and seeds and can have positive medicinal effects, they can also be toxic to both humans and animals – especially when they are used incorrectly.
When browsing the supermarket shelves you will see such descriptive terms as ‘natural, ‘organic, and ‘green’ on air freshener products. But in reality, the product is unlikely to have been scientifically assessed. All the studies that have been undertaken on the emissions from air fresheners, have found that they contain potentially hazardous ingredients – whether they are labeled ‘green’ or not.
Some people believe that to ensure an air freshener is ‘green’ or safer that is best to make your own using essential oils, but again the same problem occurs because they could contain high concentrations of ‘naturally’ produced chemicals. The concentrations of these natural chemicals are much higher in essential oils than they are found in nature and this is why they can cause an allergic reaction. Importantly, few plant-based ingredients have been fully tested.
If you simply ‘must’ use essential oils in your home, make sure that you use the ones that are known to be safe and use them somewhere where your pet cannot come into direct contact with them. It is very important to read the instructions and to only use the correct amounts.
What ingredients in air fresheners are dangerous?
The designers of air fresheners want them to be volatile – that is to easily turn into vapors so that they readily dissipate into the air, effectively changing the smell quickly. The chemicals used in the manufacture of air fresheners are chosen for their high volatility, which means that they have a high vapor pressure at room temperature. This enables them to quickly turn from solids or liquids into gases and vapors. The chemicals used are usually volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Unfortunately, this characteristic means that the chemicals can also be harmful. They are not dissimilar to the volatile chemicals used in paints, varnishes, fossil fuels, and dry-cleaning products. You certainly would not use any of these fragrances near your dog!
The Environmental Protection Agency lists many negative health effects that VOCs can have on humans ranging from irritations to the eye, nose and throat to damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system – so imagine the harm to your dog.
A study published in the Environmental Impact Assessment Review reveals the results of tests made on best-selling air fresheners and laundry products. (1) It was found that –
“133 different VOCs were emitted from the 25 products, with an average of 17 VOCs in each product. Of these 133 VOCs, 24 are classified as toxic or hazardous under U.S. federal laws, and each product emitted at least one of these compounds. For “green” products, emissions of these compounds were not significantly different from the other products.”
The added dangers of air fresheners for dogs
Not only can breathing air filled with air freshener be bad for your dog, eating an air freshener can be even worse. Take care if you use plug-in air fresheners or long-life air fresheners to keep them well away from your dog. As well as being careful when you are using them, the air fresheners must be disposed of carefully so that there is no chance your dog can get to them.
If your dog does ingest an air freshener, you need to seek help from your Veterinarian as quickly as possible. The air freshener could damage your dog’s gastrointestinal system and he could suffer from vomiting, diarrhea and more.
Ingredients to avoid in air fresheners
It is very important that none of the air freshening products you buy contain volatile organic compounds (VOC) but it is equally important to avoid the following ingredients too:
Derived from petroleum, Benzene is frequently used in fragrance products but has been linked to cancers including leukaemia.
Formaldehyde is odorless and colorless but frequently present in air fresheners and can cause respiratory problems for your pets.
There are a number of different substances with ‘phthalates’ in their name and it is best to avoid them all! They have been linked to hormone imbalances and cancers and are often used in greater than recommended quantities.
Top 3 dog-Safe air fresheners
There are several products on the market that are pet- friendly and safe to use including:
Febreeze Heavy Duty Air Freshener: All the molecules in this spray are natural, making it ideal for babies, dogs and other pets. It can be used anywhere in the home.
Fresh Wave Odor Eliminator Spray: approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency. It is non-toxic, non-GMO and non-hazardous. Smells naturally of lime, pine and cedarwood.
Pet House Pet Friendly Freshening Room Spray: specifically made for pets, this product is safe for all animals. It also helps particularly with eliminating pet odors!
What are the alternatives to air fresheners?
There are many query marks hanging over the use of air sprays – especially about their effectiveness at eliminating odors and creating a more pleasant air environment in the home. The problem is that so many air fresheners contain harmful chemicals.
There are ways to get rid of bad odors in your house without using air fresheners including:
- Remove the source of the odor
- Increase the ventilation by opening windows
- Regularly and thoroughly clean your house
- Use animal-safe air purifiers
If you want to use air fresheners to fragrance the air, use pet-safe air fresheners or candles/ diffusers containing essential oils that are pet-safe. These include:
- Lavender Oil
- Peppermint Oil
- Chamomile Oil
- Cedarwood Oil
Final thoughts – What air fresheners are safe for dogs
We all want our homes to smell fresh and clean but it is important to consider the air fresheners we use and whether they are safe for dogs. Many air fresheners contain harmful chemicals that can be toxic to dogs if inhaled or ingested. In this article, we included safe air fresheners for dogs, and also what to avoid. We hope you found this helpful!