Are Fragrance Oils Safe For Dogs?

artificial fragrance
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We all want to smell good! And we want our homes to smell good too. But are fragrance oils safe for dogs? In fact, most of the products you use to perfume yourself and the air around you are toxic? Not just for your dog … but for you too.  

Unfortunately, artificial fragrances are a massive industry.  And the manufacturers are way more interested in their own profits than they are in your health! 

I want to tell you about the chemicals in these products, so you’ll understand why they’re not safe for dogs.

What’s In Artificial Fragrances

Artificial fragrances are mostly made from petrochemicals that come from crude oil … a very toxic substance. And that makes artificial fragrances a LOT cheaper than 100% natural botanical extracts and essential oils. 

Each fragrance contains hundreds of chemicals. And they’re all slow poisons for your dog … and you. In fact, many of the fragrance compounds have similar chemical structures to pesticides

It’s A Secret

Legally, the FDA doesn’t require companies don’t have to list all of the chemicals in fragrances. The word fragrance on a product label is a catch-all. And they don’t have to tell you what’s in there. That’s because there’s a sneaky US law exempting manufacturers from giving away trade secrets.  

So it’s impossible to know what exact toxic soup is in any given product. 

In 2010, the consumer watchdog Environmental Working Group published an article stating that 3,613 ingredients hide behind the word fragrance.

EWG rates toxic chemicals according to risk; they said 1 in 20 of these chemicals had a “high hazard” score. 25 of them scored a 10, the highest score. This means anything you use in your home with artificial fragrances is probably unsafe … for your dog and you and your family. 

The substances in them are volatile … meaning they’re easily absorbed directly through the skin from the air. Many of them accumulate in the body over time.

Chemicals In Artificial Fragrances

These are just a few of the toxic chemicals in artificial fragrances …

  • Acetone
  • Benzaldehyde
  • Benzyl acetate
  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Campho
  • Toluene
  • Ethanol
  • Ethyl acetate
  • Limonene
  • Linalool
  • Styrene
  • Methylene chloride
  • Phthalates 

Are Fragrance Oils Safe For Dogs?

No, fragrance oils are not safe for dogs … and they’re not safe for people either. These chemicals can cause all sorts of health issues. Here are some of the worst ones. 

  • Central nervous system disorders (think hyperactivity, worsening of dementia symptoms, etc)
  • Kidney damage (this may accelerate kidney failure)
  • Respiratory problems
  • Gut irritation (can be a factor in IBD)
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Can trigger or worsen epilepsy
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Damage to sperm, reducing fertility

That’s quite a list! 

One of the most serious issues with many artificial fragrances is the way they mimic various hormones in the body. They then hook onto receptors for those hormones and cause all sorts of problems. 

The chemicals in fragrance oils for dogs are implicated in cancers, birth defects, developmental disorders, neurological damage and immune system disruption. I’m one of many veterinarians who believes these substances are often a factor in many chronic illnesses in dogs. 

So, how do you avoid them?

Where Are These Sweet-Smelling Poisons?

Artificial fragrances are everywhere … lurking in just about any household or personal product you can think of … 

  • Cleaning products
  • Air fresheners
  • Scented candles
  • Laundry detergent
  • Cheap essential oils
  • Dryer sheets and fabric softeners
  • Baby wipes
  • Deodorants
  • Bath or shower gels and soaps
  • Body lotions
  • Cosmetics and skin care products
  • Hair care products
  • Dog shampoos, conditioners, freshening spritzes and more

The secret to finding them is to become an avid label reader. If you see the word fragrance or parfum on a label, the product contains artificial fragrances. 

I strongly recommend that you detox your life from all of them. Find them and throw them all in the trash

Be ruthless! All of your cosmetics, skin products and perfumes are highly likely to contain artificial fragrances… and yes, this includes the super expensive ones.  Shed a tear but do it for your dog’s sake – in the bin they go! 

Go through your house and get rid of shampoos, conditioners and hair sprays. 

Air fresheners … especially the plug-in ones that pump out a spray of that vile smelly stuff at regular intervals, and the ones with wands that stand up in the bottle. 

Laundry products, cleaning products, dish detergents, ironing sprays, scented candles, and so on. 

Read Every Label
Treat every scented product you buy with the utmost suspicion. You’ll need to read the labels of everything!

Watch for that red flag … the word fragrance or parfumYou may need a magnifying glass for this job.  The writing is often so small it isn’t readable.  It’s not just your own products. Don’t forget to check all your dog shampoos as well.

Your groomer may use products with artificial fragrances too. Ever notice that salon smell your dog comes home with? It’s probably fake. So buy some natural shampoo and ask your groomer to use it next time. Ask her to skip the after-grooming cologne spritz too!

You’ll probably find a LOT of products that are actually poisonous to you and your pets. You you may be very attached to some of them … especially your own perfumes and beauty products. 

But never fear, there are healthy alternatives!

DNM RECOMMENDS: For your dog’s bathtime, try a safe, all-natural organic shampoo like 4-Legger Dog Shampoo. Buy 4-Legger now >> 

Find Natural Ingredients

Replace the artificial fragrances with products that contain only 100% natural scents. Beware products that say nature identical. These are synthetic and will nearly always contain unsafe contaminants.

100% pure organic essential oils are your best bet … but be aware that some essential oils may harm your dog. Some to avoid are:

  • Tea tree
  • Cinnamon
  • Pennyroyal
  • Pine
  • Sweet birch
  • Wintergreen

Many oils are safe, but be sure to do your research and only buy essential oils safe for dogs! Don’t be surprised if you find some of these unsafe essential oils in your dog’s natural insect repellents or shampoos. Ditch those as well. 

Caution: A Word About Diffusing Essential Oils
Essential oils are energetically very powerful for animals. So please don’t diffuse essential oils in your home without giving your pets a way to leave the room. They need an escape route if they don’t like the scent … or it makes them feel ill. This is also true if you burn candles with essential oils.

I don’t recommend any essential oils from MLMs (multilevel marketing companies). They are generally hideously overpriced … and may not be as “pure” as they say they are. 

There are plenty of great sources for organic 100% pure essential oils that are safe for dogs. Simply google organic pure essential oils and your country name and you’ll find lots of options. 

Natural Options To Replace Artificial Fragrance Oils
So, how can you find fragrances safe for dogs? Here are a few products with natural scents. 

  • Rare Earth Naturals. 100% natural essential oil based aromas, candles, diffusers and more. 
  • Pure Natural Diva. sSynthetic and chemical free scents, soaps, skincare and more.
  • Lurkmade. Pure essential oil in organic jojoba – no water or alcohol.
  • Givescent. Scents made with a blend of oils and essential oils. No alcohol, formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates and sulphates.
  • Rich Hippie. High-end organic fragrance-free perfumes.

There are plenty of other options out there if you’re willing to dig in and do some research. 

Is perfume bad for dogs?

Yes, it is. Even really expensive perfumes are made with chemical ingredients. If you want to wea perfumes or body products that are safe for your dog, find products made with natural scents like the ones suggested above.

What scents are bad for dogs?

All artificial scents are toxic for dogs. The only scents that are safe for dogs are those made with all-natural ingredients, like herbs or some essential oils. Artificial scents can cause nervous system disorders, breathing difficulty, kidney issues, seizures and endocrine problems.

What are the symptoms of air freshener poisoning in dogs?

If your dog gets air freshener poisoning, you may see symptoms like coughing, sneezing, eye or nose discharge, or even diarrhea, vomiting or lethargy. Get him to a vet if you use air fresheners and see these signs.

It can be hard to throw out things you love … even if they’re unhealthy for your dog, and for you. But you’ll help your dog live a longer, happier, healthier life if you do it! It’s totally worth it to make the change. 


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