Fall is almost upon us. The cooling weather always seems to put me in the mood to clean. There’s nothing more comfortable than having a clean house, comfy pajamas, a dog (or two) to snuggle with, a good book, and a scented candle burning for good measure. Why doesn’t love when their house smells nice? Candles can help set the atmosphere in our homes, serve as decorations, and fill our spaces with their pleasant scents. But have you ever stopped to think about whether candles are safe to burn around dogs?
Keep Pets Away from Open Flame
I know, I know, it’s kind of common sense. But it’s worth writing anyways, if you’re going to burn candles around any type of pet, you need to keep them out of your animals’ reach. Make sure to always keep candles somewhere where your dog can’t reach them, especially when they are lit!
But Do Candles Present Dangers to Dogs Besides the Open Flame?
Unfortunately, besides exposing us to their pleasant odors, some candles release carcinogens and neurotoxins. In addition, some contain animal by-products and other ingredients that are bad for the environment.
Candle companies in the US aren’t required to list their product ingredients, so finding animal and environmentally friendly candle brands can sometimes be difficult. Ingredients such as Spermaceti and Stearic Acid are both animal derived ingredients sometimes used in candle making. Spermaceti is a waxy oil found in cavities in the heads of Sperm whales and dolphins. Stearic Acid is a fatty acid usually derived from beef, sheep, or pig fat.
Paraffin based candles are the most common type sold today. Paraffin is a petroleum product, that when burned can release toxins into the air. Some of these toxins are known carcinogens and can be damaging to your health, your pets health, and to the environment.
Many candles are scented with essential oils, not all of which are safe for dogs. Many essential oils, such as cinnamon, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, citrus (d-limonene), birch, tea tree, wintergreen, Ylang ylang, clove, garlic, anise, thyme, and juniper are not considered to be dog safe.
Are Some Type of Candles Safe?
That doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to stop burning candles if you enjoy having them in your home. Candles made from beeswax or soy contain plant based ingredients and are much healthier for you. Make sure you double check with the candle company before making a purchase, as some candles labeled as being environmentally friendly may still contain small amounts of animal by-products. But vegan, environmentally friendlier candles do exist! They may cost a bit more than usual, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. You are paying extra for higher quality, healthier ingredients. An added benefit is that all natural candles often have a more pure, pleasant scent, and they usually last longer than paraffin based candles.
Best Practices for Safely Burning Candles around Dogs
Avoid overly strong scents, and candles that use essential oils that are toxic to dogs. I personally will often look for all natural (ideally beeswax) candles scented with lavender. Lavender oil is dog safe, smells great (at least I think so) and is known to be a relaxing scent for both humans and dogs. Don’t burn candles in small, enclosed areas. Make sure your dog can escape from the scent if he/she wants too. Remember, even if a scent/candle is dog safe, your dog’s nose is way more sensitive than yours is!
Never leave candles where your dog can get them. Of course lit candles near pets presents a fire hazard, but unlit candles can be dangerous too. Contact your veterinarian if your dog eats or chews on candle wax.
Alternatives for Using Candles Around Pets
If you love the looks of shining candles around your home, but are looking for an alternative to actual candles, led (battery powered) “candles” look nice and eliminate the dangers of open flame. You’ll still want to keep them away from overly curious dogs (eating the batteries would be really dangerous), but you wouldn’t have to worry about them releasing any toxins. I love the led candles, especially around the holidays, because I can leave them in places, such as the window sills, where I wouldn’t feel safe putting real candles.
Of course led candles don’t make your house smell any nicer. For that, you can consider upping your cleaning regime. Open your windows, even for a short time on a cold day, can help the air in your home smell fresher. Some essential oils are dog safe if you want to use an essential oil diffuser. Air filters won’t add scent to the air, but can help eliminate bad odors. Bags of charcoal placed in strategic areas can help to adsorb bad odors. You can look for pet safe, scented cleaning products and sprays to use too. Or, and any other people in your house will love this one, you can bake something to make your house smell amazing!
I Don’t Miss Burning Candles!
I used to burn candles a lot, especially in the fall and winter. When I learned how bad they can be for us humans, my dogs, and the environments, I started getting a lot more picky about what types of candles I’ll buy. Then, a few years ago now, I bought a bunch of led candles. Ever since then I cut way back on how many actual candles I buy. If you had asked me a few years ago if I’d miss burning candles I would have said yes!
But I don’t, really. The led candles look great, and are safer. I don’t have to worry as much about where I put them, or forgetting to blow them out. I’ll sometimes use an essential oil diffuser with dog safe essential oils when I really want my house to smell nice. Otherwise, I just make sure to stay on top of my cleaning schedule to avoid bad odors.
Comment below! What are some dog friendly tips you have for keeping your house smelling fresh?