Scented Candles & Oils are Not Good for the Health of Pets

Scented Candles & Oils are Not Good for the Health of Pets


In the States, we're constantly using air fresheners, candles, wax warmers, oils, diffusers, and other products to sweeten the air around us. Candles in, particular, are popular for the ambiance they provide, but are they and the rest of these products safe to use around pets? The answer depends on a number of factors.

First off, the product's ingredients, whether or not the animal has any breathing issues, and where the product is placed all play a role in the impact it can have. Some of them contain chemicals that can be bad for both you and your dog. Dogs suffering from asthma or other breathing issues shouldn't be exposed to them.

As with humans, some fragrances and scented oils can trigger an allergic reaction or irritate existing breathing problems in dogs. Cats and birds don't fare well around them, either. A bird's respiratory system is more sensitive than other animals, and it can react badly to scented candles, sometimes leading to death.

According to the BCSPCA, some of these products can actually be poisonous to pets. "Candles that are made from paraffin wax, use a lead wick, or release synthetic oil and fragrances, can be toxic. For example, fragrances and/or oil can aggravate existing respiratory illnesses like asthma in your pets due to harmful toxins, such as naphthalene or phthalates."

Naphthalene is a substance created from crude oil or coal tar and is used as an insecticide and pest repellent, among other things. In animals, the ingredient can affect a dog's lungs and eyes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), animal studies point to it as causing cancer.

Phthalates, also referred to as plasticizers, are used to soften plastics. These chemicals are in all sorts of household products, including candles, various soaps, and too many others to list here.

The signs your dog may be having an allergic reaction to candles include
watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, itching, or wheezing. As a precaution, experts suggest using candles that are made of soy, coconut, or vegetable-based wax with an unbleached 100-percent cotton wick.

Essential oils used in many scented candles can also potentially poison dogs. These essential oils are said to be toxic to your pet, so you should avoid them in candle form as well. They are tea tree (melaleuca), wintergreen, ylang-ylang, pine, cinnamon, pennyroyal, citrus (d-limonene), sweet birch, and peppermint.

The bottom line is that if you have pets, you should strongly consider using unscented candles in your home and read the ingredients before purchasing them. You can also look for candles with labeling stating they're dog safe. Or choose candles made from vegetable wax, soy, or beeswax, which are all less likely to contain chemicals harmful to pets.

Better safe than sorry.

Rebecca West

Rebecca is a writer and editor for both print and digital with a love for travel, history, archaeology, trivia, and architecture. Much of her writing has focused on human and animal health and welfare. A life-long pet owner, she has taken part in fostering dogs for military members during deployment and given many rescued and surrendered dogs the forever home they always wanted. Her two favorite canine quotes are, "Be the kind of person your dog thinks you are," and "My dog rescued me."

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