Burning sage and sweetgrass could have some positive effects on people and their anxiety levels, but it can be more or less dangerous for pets.
As a veterinarian, I will never recommend burning any type of herb in a household where a dog that has asthma or a history of respiratory pathologies resides.
And while sage might have some benefits for dogs if it is given to them in the form of tea, for example, especially if they are feeling extremely nervous whenever an appointment to the veterinary clinic comes along, burning it is completely different. Read on to find out more!
Why burn sage or sweetgrass in the first place?
Smudging supposedly has some benefits for the mind and body. Sage has antimicrobial properties, which is why some people tend to think that burning it will make their living space healthier.
Apparently, it is also supposed to fight sore throat, headaches, and inflammation, along with depression. And while it is true that as a herb itself, sage does have some features that do tend to alleviate the symptoms of severe depression only through momentarily calming the person, that does not mean that it will have the same effect on your dog.
Is burning sage healthy for dogs?
The most dangerous part of smudging is the burning itself. There are various smudging kits available for sale these days, but all of them require you to burn the herb for anything ranging from less than a minute to five minutes or more.
Even when you do it for a couple of seconds, your dog’s respiratory lining can become irritated. Dogs that have a history of any type of disease that has affected their breathing are not supposed to be exposed to smoke, whether from smudging or smoking cigarettes.
Not only the respiratory tract can suffer from irritation and inflammation, but also your dog’s eyes. If your pet has eye discharge due to their anatomy or you’ve treated them for pink eye in the past, you should avoid smudging altogether.
Dogs like clean air because that’s what is healthy for them – and for people, too, for that matter.
Can smudging be safe for pets or people in other situations?
The answer to this question is that while general burning sage is unsafe for dogs, it also depends on how you do it. For example, if the sage is burnt in a wide-open space and the dog has the ability to move freely and get away from the smoke, it might not be as detrimental to their health.
The amount of time you burn sage is also important. If you do it for more than a few seconds and you cover the whole living space in your apartment or house, your dog is definitely not going to be happy about that.
But even if you do it for a limited time, you should make sure you properly air out your place afterward.
Do consider that in time, if a dog is exposed to smudging consistently, they can end up developing chronic bronchitis – and as many negative energies you might have tried to get rid of by burning sage in your house before, there’s no energy as negative as having to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on trying to treat your dog for a chronic respiratory condition.
If you really have to burn sage and there’s no other way, at least try to protect your pet by keeping them in a separate room – even though there will still be a very low amount of smoke going in there, even in this case.
Using sage for dogs in other ways
Besides burning it, sage does have a number of benefits that can be offered to your canine friend by feeding them the herb or by giving them sage tea instead of plain water.
Sage contains a range of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins E and A or magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and more. Of course, that doesn’t mean that your dog isn’t already getting the essential nutrients they need from their regular kibble, especially if you opt for a high-quality diet.
What is interesting about the herb, though, is that it does have some fairly good antimicrobial properties. Consequently, giving your dog tea can improve their breath – not just because of the way the herb smells but also because it decreases the number of bacteria in their oral cavity.
Furthermore, sage also has a calming effect on dogs that are known to be overly anxious, stressed, or nervous, especially in situations such as having to live at someone else’s house when you’re on vacation or going to the vet clinic on a regular basis.
Given its anti-inflammatory properties, sage can also help with discomfort during the warm season, when dogs are known to suffer from itchiness after being exposed to common allergens.
As for the amount of sage that is safe to give to your dog, there are no particular guidelines at this moment. Too much of a good thing is possible in this situation, too, so do consider that some dogs might experience side effects such as digestive distress or even seizures.
In the end, while sage is considered non-toxic to dogs, any type of smoke is unsafe for them, so we advise you to avoid smudging in the presence of your pets.