Incense is pleasurable to many humans because it delivers instant aroma that can lift our spirits, energize our bodies and minds, or contribute to religious observances. It’s made from aromatic materials like cinnamon, patchouli, sandalwood, and musk. Those materials are blended with some type of material that makes it easy to ignite with a slow burn.
While you may love incense, what is the impact on the dogs sharing your living space? We’re going to take a deeper look at dogs and incense right now.
Is Incense Bad for Dogs?
Incense isn’t good for dogs because they have a more powerful sense of smell than humans. Incense is known for producing a far more powerful aroma than you might get with a candle. That aroma comes with some smoke as well. Dogs have the ability to smell everything more intensely than humans, so that strong incense aroma hits them even harder.
The smoke produced by incense can also hurt a dog’s lungs. It may lead to difficulty breathing, especially when the dog is in a room heavily saturated with incense aroma and smoke. While the impact on many dogs is mild, it can lead to significant breathing problems for other dogs.
Will You Know if Incense Bothers Your Dog?
Dogs don’t have the ability to communicate with words when they’re bothered by something we’re doing. What they can do is change their behavior to hint that they’re agitated or stressed. Some dogs may start barking, running around the room, scratching at doors, whining, or making other loud noises. Others may simply withdraw and curl up somewhere, possibly hiding their face to limit inhalation of the incense.
Unfortunately, many humans don’t make the connection between burning incense and a change in their dog’s behavior. They may assume that the dog needs to go outside to use the bathroom. That does get the dog out of the incense burn zone, but they will have the same problem when they return indoors.
In some cases, you won’t know if your incense is bothering your dog. They may not let on unless they have such a serious reaction that they can’t breathe or otherwise feel threatened.
Dogs and the Risk of Fire
While we’re focusing heavily on the impact incense may have on your dog’s health and general happiness, it’s important to mention that dogs may knock incense over if it’s not placed properly in your home.
If you have a curious dog who wants to explore everything in their environment, then you can assume that burning incense will get their attention. Something as simple as a curious nose sniffing too close to the incense holder or the incense itself can lead to a fire. Even if you’re in the same room, you may not have time to stop the incense from falling.
Hyperactive or excited dogs can also accidently knock into incense or a table holding the incense. They may not notice that there is any danger as they run through the room or jump over one another in play. If you often throw toys to play fetch, then those toys can knock the incense over as well. It only takes a moment to go from happy play to a traumatic house fire.
It’s not enough to just place your incense up high. Make sure that the table holding the incense isn’t easily rattled or shaken as well. Try to choose the room with the least activity when determining where to place the incense.
What to Do if My Dog Smells Incense?
If you think your dog is having a bad reaction to inhaling incense aroma and smoke, get them out of the immediate burn zone. You may allow them to go outside, breathing in fresh air to clear their lungs. Putting them in another area of the home not affected by the smoke and aroma is another option.
You should monitor your dog for signs of difficulty breathing. The intense aroma of incense may bother some dogs, but that is usually remedied by removing them from the area impacted by that smell. The biggest threat to dogs is smoke inhalation, so watch your dog closely for signs of heavy or troubled breathing. You may need to seek emergency veterinarian care if your dog struggles to breathe, but that is a rare reaction.
While your dog is breathing fresh air elsewhere, open windows or doors to start airing out the room. You may also turn on fans or use air purifiers to get air circulating through the room and remove particles of incense from the air. Don’t allow the dog to come back into the room until the air is cleansed of smoke thoroughly.
How to Use Incense Around Dogs?
Ventilation is key if you want to use incense around a dog. It’s actually just as important to protect your own lungs, so make sure the room is properly ventilated before you light the incense. That may simply mean opening a window to allow some of the smoke to exit the room quickly. You can also turn on a fan.
Air purifiers are great, but keep in mind that they eliminate odor from the air as well as particles of dust and debris. You may want to place your dog in another room with an air purifier rather than running it in the same room as your incense.
It’s also important to use high-quality incense. Look for traditional incense sticks that contain all-natural plant material. You want to avoid small particles of charcoal and other ingredients that may irritate your dog or even your own lungs. Some low-quality or cheap incense also contains harsh chemicals that are more likely to cause difficulty breathing or lung irritation.
Finally, make sure your dog can leave the room where you’re burning incense. Sometimes, just allowing them to take a breather in another room gives a dog the power to control their own smoke inhalation. If you notice that your dog leaves the room every time you fire up the incense, you know that it’s likely bothering them in some way.
Incense Alternatives that are Safe for Dogs
So, what do you do if your dog is sensitive to incense, but you need something to freshen the air in your home? You could try candles, but some contain aromas and ingredients that are just as bothersome to pets as incense. Candles made with 100% beeswax are a great alternative, especially when the scent is mild.
Another option is to invest in a diffuser for essential oils. Just keep in mind that some essential oils also have strong aromas that may bother your dog’s sensitive sense of smell. Don’t put too much oil in the diffuser and allow your dog to exit the room if needed just as you would with incense. Some oils have great benefits for mental and emotional health. If you have a hyperactive dog, try a calming oil like lavender.
You can also freshen your home by simply shampooing the carpets or cleaning the upholstery. Choose cleaning products with natural ingredients and fresh aromas to deliver that crisp, just-cleaned aroma.