Caring for a dog can sometimes be a smelly business, so pet parents might feel the need to freshen up their space using a variety of products, whether that be scented candles, aroma diffusers and essential oils, or incense for burning.
But are any of these products actually good for our canine friends? Can burning incense put your dog’s health at risk? We’re answering these questions and more in today’s article, so keep on reading!
Can burning incense be dangerous for dogs?
The short answer to this question is a hard yes. Incense can be risky for dogs for a number of different reasons, such as smoke inhalation, fire hazards, as well as irritating smells, and complications that can lead to a wide range of respiratory pathologies.
Pets that have a hard time breathing anyway might develop bronchitis or even asthma if they are consistently and repeatedly exposed to incense.
Not only this, but some incense products really aren’t made from the best ingredients, and if these chemicals are used in a household time and again, they can even make a dog develop allergies or skin irritation.
In the end, a dog’s sense of smell is what they use to orientate themselves in the world, so it is critical for them to be able to smell properly – which definitely doesn’t happen if their pet owners keep burning incense. Having a clean home and using natural and pet-safe cleaners and deodorizers is much better than having to resort to artificial alternatives.
And remember, even if the incense is made from herbs, tree resin, spices, or just plain wood, so in theory, it’s manufactured only using natural materials, burning it still leads to the release of toxic compounds into the air.
Is there any type of incense that is safe for dogs?
Unfortunately, no. Incense sticks, coils, cones, powders, or ropes are made from different types of materials, and when all of them are combined and burned, they can lead to the emission of some pretty dangerous gasses in the air. A few examples are listed below:
- Carbon monoxide
- Sulfur dioxide
In general, any incense comes with herbal and wood ingredients in a ratio of up to 25%. The actual wood material that makes it holds its shape can sometimes account for up to 30-35% of the entire product, but there are two others that you need to be concerned over – adhesive powder and fragrance. Some fragrances are just terrible for dogs, especially tea tree, cinnamon, pine, eucalyptus, clove, citrus, or wintergreen. So whatever happens, you should never get incense with these scents, even though the products are advertised as being completely natural.
When it comes to artificial scents, just think of all of them as being toxic to dogs. They can result from mixing a range of chemicals that, when burned, can create havoc inside your pet’s respiratory system and lead to symptoms such as the following:
- Nasal discharge
- Eye discharge
- A persistent cough
- Difficulty breathing
- A lack of appetite for either food or water
To generalize, we might even go as far as to say that pretty much any type of burning that emits smoke is dangerous for dogs, including the one that results from the regular cooking process. If you’re grilling meat, for instance, and you’ve made a mistake in terms of its cooking time and burned it, it’s a good idea to avoid allowing your dog to go into the kitchen.
Never believe any brand’s advertising according to which the incense that it produces is good for dogs. No product that has to be burned to produce fragrance will ever be good or healthy for this species.
If you still want to burn incense as a dog owner
Even though burning incense is a no-go if you have a dog, if you really feel the need to, you could at least keep your canine buddy in a separate room as you tend to the process gradually in every room of the house.
Don’t think that natural incense is safer and, therefore, good to use in your dog’s presence – it can be just as bad as the cheaper, artificial varieties.
Proper ventilation makes all the difference when it comes to preventing your dog’s respiratory system from suffering any abuse caused by incense, so rely on your fan or air purifier or just open up your balcony door or window very wide after burning incense sticks.
Better incense alternatives – Do they even exist?
If you like a nice fragrance, but you also don’t want to put your dog’s health in danger, you might want to try the following options:
- Dog-safe scented candles
- Oil diffusers
- Pet-friendly freshening room sprays
Pet-safe candles must not contain any of the essential oils or plant ingredients that we have previously mentioned (such as cinnamon, citrus, eucalyptus, and more) and should be made only from beeswax and soy. Paraffin candles can produce a variety of toxic substances when they are burned, such as toluene and benzene and, in some cases, even lead.
Oil diffusers are quite safe because you are not going to be burning anything, so the impact on your pet’s respiratory system is not going to be severe. Just make sure you pick a safe aromatic oil.
As for the pet-safe house sprays, they’re usually made with natural ingredients and are also free of any potentially dangerous ingredients, such as parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, or anything else.
In a nutshell, incense alternatives do exist if you want to keep your home smelling clean, but your dog’s health is important to you at the same time.