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  • Writer's pictureCaroline Lavigne

The Silent Threat: How Air Fresheners and Essential Oil Plug-Ins Can Harm Your Beloved Pets

As pet owners, we go to great lengths to ensure the safety and well-being of our furry companions. However, there are hidden dangers lurking in our homes that we may not be aware of: air fresheners and essential oil plug-ins. While these products promise to freshen the air and create a pleasant atmosphere, they can pose serious risks to the health of our pets. In this article, we'll delve into the potential dangers of these seemingly harmless household items and explore safer alternatives to keep our pets happy and healthy. Rest assured, at WNC Pet Care, our professional pet sitters are trained to identify and report potential hazards lurking in your home that could jeopardize the safety of your furry friends.

The Hidden Risks: Air fresheners and essential oil plug-ins contain a variety of chemicals and fragrances that can be harmful to pets when inhaled or ingested. These products often contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene and formaldehyde, which can irritate the respiratory system and lead to breathing difficulties, especially in pets with pre-existing respiratory conditions like asthma or bronchitis.

Furthermore, many air fresheners and essential oil plug-ins contain essential oils that are toxic to pets. For example, certain essential oils such as tea tree oil, cinnamon oil, and citrus oils can be highly toxic to cats and dogs, causing symptoms ranging from skin irritation to liver damage and even neurological problems.

24PetWatch says: "It's best to avoid diffusing essential oils around dogs and cats. In addition to inhalation exposure to potentially toxic essential oils, microdroplets of oils could collect on your pet's fur. This exposure could lead to dermal absorption or eventual ingestion once your pet grooms or licks itself."(1)

Additionally, pets have a much more sensitive sense of smell than humans, and the overpowering scents emitted by air fresheners and essential oil plug-ins can be overwhelming and distressing for them. This can lead to anxiety, stress, and behavioral issues in our furry friends.

Ingesting air fresheners or essential oil plug-ins can be even more dangerous for pets. Curious pets may lick or chew on these products, leading to accidental ingestion of toxic chemicals or essential oils. Ingestion of these substances can result in symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and in severe cases, organ failure and even death.

Liquid air fresheners and essential oil plug-ins pose a risk of spillage, which can lead to accidental ingestion or skin contact with concentrated amounts of harmful chemicals or essential oils.

Safer Alternatives: Fortunately, there are safer alternatives to traditional air fresheners and essential oil plug-ins that can still keep your home smelling fresh without putting your pets at risk. Consider using natural alternatives such as baking soda, activated charcoal, or natural soy candles with pet-safe fragrances. Here is a pet friendly product you may want to try as well, let us know if you do! (2)

Additionally, maintaining good indoor air quality by regularly ventilating your home, using air purifiers, and keeping surfaces clean can help eliminate odors without the need for chemical air fresheners. Did you know? According to CatsInternational, "[cats] have 200 million odor-sensitive cells in their noses compared to only 5 million for humans"? (3)

Statistical Insight: According to a study conducted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), ingestion of certain essential oils by pets has been linked to a significant increase in cases of toxicity, with a reported 400% rise in essential oil-related calls to animal poison control centers over the past decade. (4)

According to VCA Hospitals, "Essential oils are rapidly absorbed both orally and across the skin, and are then metabolized in the liver. Cats lack an essential enzyme in their liver and as such have difficulty metabolizing and eliminating certain toxins like essential oils. This can lead to toxic buildup in their system, resulting in symptoms ranging from drooling and vomiting to tremors and seizures." (5)

Conclusion: While air fresheners and essential oil plug-ins may seem like harmless household items, they can pose serious risks to the health and well-being of our pets. By being aware of the potential dangers of these products and opting for safer alternatives, we can create a healthier and safer environment for our furry companions. Let's prioritize the safety and happiness of our pets by making informed choices about the products we use in our homes. Stay safe, Written by Caroline, lucky mom of two fur balls, business owner of WNC Pet Care, proud supporter of Sister Kitten Animal Rescue, and former veterinary technician in both Canada and the Unites States. To donate to Sister Kitten Animal Rescue:

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Bibliographic References:

  1. 24PetWatch. "Pet Safety Tips - Essential Oil Diffusers." 24PetWatch,

  2. Scent Fill. "All-Natural Pet-Friendly Plug-In Air Fresheners." Scent Fill,

  3. CatsInternational. "Cats & Odors: What You Need To Know." CatsInternational,

  4. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). "Essential Oils and Pets: A Potentially Toxic Combination." ASPCA,

  5. VCA Hospitals. "Essential Oil and Liquid Potpourri Poisoning in Cats." VCA Hospitals,

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