Pet Toxins

Are Candles With Essential Oils Safe For Dogs?

are essential oil candles safe for dogs

As devoted pet parents, we are always on the lookout for ways to enhance our furry friends’ well-being while creating a warm and inviting atmosphere at home. 

When I do house call visits, most of the time the pet owners have a nice fragrant candle burning.

Candles infused with essential oils have become very popular as a natural alternative to traditional air fresheners.  As responsible pet owners, we need to know whether these fragrant scent products could be harmful to our beloved pets. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the risks and hazards of using candles with essential oils around dogs and cats, while providing valuable insights and practical tips to ensure the safety and happiness of our four-legged companions.

Let’s get started.


What Ingredients in Candles Are Not Safe?

Paraffin Wax and Synthetic Fragrances

Regular candles are typically made from paraffin wax, a petroleum-derived substance that releases toxic compounds when burned. These compounds can cause poor air quality and can make respiratory issues in both humans and pets worse. 

Many commercial candles contain artificial fragrances, which can release harmful chemicals when heated. The FDA does not make companies list every single chemical in a fragrance. This is mainly because there is a law exempting manufacturers from revealing trade secrets. These substances can trigger skin irritation or respiratory problems in sensitive individuals, including our furry friends, which is not what we want.

Most people people just want their house to smell good, right?

Essential Oils 

Essential oils are natural oils extracted from plants, like lavender or peppermint, often used for their pleasing scents. These oils are made through processes like distillation or cold pressing, capturing the plant’s essence. People often use them in aromatherapy or as home remedies for illnesses, but it’s important to understand their potential effects, especially on pets.

Other Toxins


Naphthalene, derived from crude oil or coal tar, has many uses such as insect control and making plastics, fuels, and dyes.

It’s found in solid products that release harmful gases, effectively repelling insects and deterring certain animals.

Exposure to naphthalene can harm animals’ lung and eye health, and some studies suggest it could cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

While research on naphthalene in candles is limited, it poses similar risks to mothballs, potentially causing digestive issues, liver and kidney damage, seizures, and even fatal respiratory problems.


Phthalates, known as plasticizers, are found in many household items like candles, soaps, plastic packaging, and cosmetics. They are used to make plastics softer.

Research links exposure to phthalates to cancer in pets, as well as concerns about sexual function, fertility, and development issues.

Labeling regulations allow phthalates to be included as part of a product’s “fragrance,” even if they make up a large part, making it hard for consumers to know they are there.


Which Essential Oils Are Toxic To Dogs?

  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Wintergreen Oil
  • Pine Oil
  • Citrus Oil (including lemon, orange, lime, and grapefruit)
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Cinnamon Oil
  • Pennyroyal Oil
  • Clove Oil
  • Eucalyptus oil

Signs of Essential Oil Toxicity in Dogs

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Skin irritation or rash
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Uncoordinated movements or difficulty walking
  • Seizures

In severe cases, if essential oils are absorbed internally, it may cause kidney or liver failure, which would require hospitalization for a few days.


Which essential oils are safe for pets?

Lavender: Known for its calming effects, lavender oil can be thinned out and used in small amounts to help pets relax.

Chamomile: Chamomile oil might soothe skin problems and help pets chill out when properly thinned out.

Frankincense: Frankincense oil is often used for reducing inflammation, and it can be thinned out and rubbed onto the skin for pet health.

Cedarwood: Cedarwood oil might keep bugs away and can be thinned out for use in bug sprays safe for pets.

Cardamom: This oil can sometimes help with pets’ digestion, but it should be thinned out and used cautiously.

Always talk to a vet before using essential oils near pets, and make sure to thin them out and use them carefully to avoid any problems.


What are some Pet-Friendly Alternatives?

The good news is that a growing array of pet-safe candles made from natural waxes, such as soy or beeswax, are available to pet parents. These candles are burned cleaner and produce fewer toxins than paraffin candles.

Cotton wicks, which eliminate the risk of harmful lead emissions associated with some traditional wicks, are often featured in these candles. Natural fragrances derived from essential oils are often incorporated into many pet-friendly candles, providing a delightful aroma without using synthetic additives or potentially harmful chemicals.


What To Do If Your Pet Is Exposed

If your pet is exposed to essential oils or artificial fragrances and you notice any concerning symptoms, here’s what you should do:

First, remove your pet from the source. If your pet has been exposed to essential oils, move them to a well-ventilated room away from the source of exposure. Blow out any open flame and move the candle with hot wax out of the area.

Do not induce vomiting. Unless specifically instructed by a veterinarian, do not try to induce vomiting in your pet. This can sometimes worsen the situation, especially if the oil is caustic.

Next, contact your veterinarian or a pet emergency hospital or clinic for guidance. Describe the type of oil, the amount of exposure, and any symptoms your pet is displaying.

Lastly, follow veterinary advice. Be sure to follow any instructions given by your veterinarian carefully. They may advise you to monitor your pet at home, bring them in for evaluation, or take other steps depending on the severity of the exposure.

Take steps to prevent future exposure to essential oils by storing them securely out of your pet’s reach and avoiding their use around pets unless specifically advised by a veterinarian.

Tips for Using Candles Safely Around Pets

To ensure the safety of our dogs when using candles with essential oils, pet parents can follow these practical tips:

Choose pet-safe candles made from natural ingredients and free from harmful chemicals, such as soy or beeswax candles with cotton wicks.

Candles with subtle, natural fragrances should be prioritized to avoid overwhelming a dog’s sensitive sense of smell.

Purchase flameless candles or battery-operated candles.

Candles should be placed out of reach to prevent accidental ingestion, burns, or knock-overs.

Burn candles in well-ventilated areas to minimize indoor air pollution and reduce the risk of respiratory issues for both pets and humans.

Monitor your pet closely for any signs of adverse reactions, such as coughing, sneezing, lethargy, or gastrointestinal upset. If any concerns arise, use should be discontinued.


First Aid for Minor Burns

Here are the steps to follow for providing first aid for minor thermal burns in pets:

  • Assess the wound and your pet’s condition.
  • If available, wear sterile gloves.
  • Cool the burn using tepid water; avoid using ice.
  • Do not pop any blisters.
  • Refrain from applying topical ointments or creams unless directed by a veterinarian.
  • Keep your pet warm by covering them with a blanket to prevent shock.
  • Apply a moist cool compress, like a damp towel, to the burn while transporting your pet to the vet.


Final Notes

When using candles with essential oils around our furry pals, it’s important to be smart and cautious. Some ingredients in certain candles, like synthetic fragrances or essential oils, can be toxic. But don’t worry – there are pet-friendly options made from natural waxes and gentle scents that can still create a cozy atmosphere without putting our pets at risk.

It’s all about finding the right balance between creating a cozy atmosphere and keeping our furry buddies safe and sound. By making informed choices and prioritizing our pets’ well-being, we can enjoy the warm glow of a candle without any concerns. After all, home should be a place where everyone, including our four-legged family members, feels comfortable and content.


Dr. Georgina Ushi is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Doctorate from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. She currently works in the Tampa Bay area, providing compassionate care to dogs and cats. Alongside her clinical work, Dr. Ushi consults for pet well-being brands and writes health articles for her blog, Pet Health Love. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge to educate and inspire fellow pet owners. Dr. Ushi’s professional interests include emergency and critical care, wildlife medicine, nutrition, and hospice and palliative care.
    • 2 months ago

    Great read. I have a cat and make candles. It will help me make healthier candles safe for pets.

    • 2 months ago

    This is very helpful. I actually make candles. You just gave me insight on how to make my candles healthier.

    • 2 months ago

    Fantastic web site. Plenty of useful info here.
    I’m sending it to a few buddies

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