Every pet parent knows that odor control can be the toughest part of living with animals. Keeping your home fragrant and fresh requires some dedication, but sometimes you need a quick fix. This is when we use air fresheners.
While air fresheners serve us well, they can have adverse effects on our furry friends. Over the years, many types of air fresheners have been invented. Plug-in diffusers, sprays, purifiers and wax are the most common and Bath and the Body Works Wallflowers (see selection on Amazon.com) is one of the most popular.
Are Bath and Body Works Wallflowers safe for pets?
The Bath and Body Works Wallflowers are not completely safe for pets due to the toxins used in them. Birds and cats, particularly, are highly sensitive to airborne toxins. There are many reports by pet owners saying that their cats repeatedly threw up while using the Bath and Body Works Wallflowers. Also, cats tend to have an increase in feline asthma as a result of living in a household where air fresheners or incense is used and even just from the smell of cleaning products.
Furthermore, if not managed well, your pet might even ingest contents of the air freshener. Ingesting it can be more dangerous than simply breathing it, causing adverse effects in the gastrointestinal system.
Check your pet as you use the product
If you use the products you should watch for your pet’s reaction. Stop using them if you see symptoms like:
- Coughing and sneezing
- Nasal and eye discharge
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Change in appetite or mood
If you suspect your pet is reacting adversely to any air freshener product, seek veterinary attention as soon as possible. It is recommended to seek out a veterinarian who is familiar with detoxification.
What you need to know about air fresheners
Brief History of Air Fresheners
Air fresheners were designed to mask or remove unpleasant room odors. They typically deliver fragrance and other odor counteractants into the air. Since ancient times, fragrances have been used to mask odors. Variety of compounds have been used over the past two millennia for their abilities to create pleasant aromas or eliminate unpleasant odors.
The function of the first modern air freshener was based on a military technology for dispensing insecticides and adapted into a pressurized spray using a chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) propellant. In the 1950s, many companies began to add chemicals that counteract odors to their fragrance formulas.
Later on, the market shifted away from aerosols due to concerns over the destruction of the ozone layer by CFCs. Since then many other air freshener delivery methods have been developed and become popular, including scented candles, reed diffusers, potpourri and heat release products or popularly known as plug-ins.
What’s in Air Fresheners
Air fresheners contain a number of toxic chemicals that are dangerous to your health and your pet’s, including:
- Phthalates – One of the primary concerns health experts have about plug-in air fresheners is their wide use of phthalates, which are also found in many plastics, aerosol sprays, paints, pesticides, cosmetics, and fragrances and are notoriously disruptive to the body. It is known to cause birth defects or reproductive harm. Airborne phthalates can also cause allergic symptoms and asthma.
- Formaldehyde – This is a well-known human carcinogen that has been definitively linked to cancer of the nose and throat. It is also known to cause ongoing irritation of the throat and airways, potentially leading to dangerous infections, frequent nosebleeds, asthma and respiratory ailments.
- Naphthalene – Most major brands of plug-in air fresheners contain this chemical. It has been shown to cause tissue damage and cancer in the lungs of rodents in laboratory studies. It’s safe to assume that it causes similar effects in humans.
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) – These compounds with a low boiling point that form gas or vapor at room temperature. Although it makes them an excellent scent dispersal agent, unfortunately, they too have been linked to an increased risk of asthma.
In order to make your home toxin free, consider the alternatives below. Also try to freshen up your home by simply opening the windows when the weather allows. Below are some options to turn to in keeping your home fragrant and at the same time safe for your furry pets.
Natural Essential Oils
There are many pet-safe essential oils for you to choose from. They smell wonderful and are non-toxic. However, you should remember that you must dilute the oil to minimize the chance of irritating your cat’s nose. Avoid choosing citrus and mint scents which can be highly unpleasant to cats.
Air purifiers with filter technology are not only safe for pets but also boost your pet’s comfort level. An air purifier doesn’t only remove pet odors, but also airborne toxins, dust mite matter, pet dander, spores and other allergens and contaminants. It is a great help in improving your pet’s respiratory wellness.
Pet-Safe Indoor Plants
Plants are effective air purifiers. They are natural, cost-effective and therapeutic. In 1989, NASA discovered that houseplants can absorb harmful toxins from the air. Aside from that, they are also known to increase mood and productivity, enhance concentration and memory and reduce stress and fatigue. However, you still have to ensure that the plants you cultivate are safe and non-toxic to your pet.
Remember that the best and healthiest way to keep unwanted odors away is to simply have a clean and well-ventilated home. It’s important to check if there are hidden infestations that may affect the smell of your house. Call in a professional home air inspector if necessary, rather than masking the odor.