Are Incense Sticks Harmful To Pets? – Explained

Incense can generate volatile organic compounds including formaldehyde, benzene, styrene, butadiene, as well as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide when burned, according to studies.

These chemicals can negatively affect both people and animals, especially dogs and cats. Apparently, the lungs of dogs aren’t as resistant to environmental pollutants as people’s lungs. Therefore, harmful gases released from incense can hurt your pet’s health, so incense sticks aren’t recommended around pets.

In this article, I will explain why incense sticks could be dangerous to animals in detail. I will also mention other scents that could be harmful to animals, so without any further ado, let’s begin.

Is Incense Pet-Friendly?

Incense stick burning is a sacred part of many of the world’s religions.

Incense isn’t pet-friendly. Yes, it’s a popular way to experience a lovely aroma throughout the home, it’s also dangerous to both people and animals.

Incense includes different aromatic plants, resins, and oils that release fragrant aroma when combusted. Or heated. However, it also releases toxic air pollutants. And these pollutants aren’t only harmful to you but your beloved canine companions as well.

Are Incense Sticks Harmful To Animals?

Incense provides tranquility that leaves you in a state of relaxation and happiness. However, it’s not safe to burn around animals such as dogs, cats, and birds. The same goes for incense sticks.

Air quality is a key health factor for your pet’s health and well-being. And household animals can’t handle smoke very well, especially cats and birds. Luckily, you can still burn incense around your animals if you take a few safety precautions. Just follow the next steps and your pets will be fine.

Keep your pets in a different room

If you’re burning incense around your animals, just keep them in a different room. If you decide to keep your pets in the room anyways, then you should keep a doop wide open so your pets can exit if they feel overwhelmed by the smoke.

Burn incense in a well-ventilated area

If you’re a pet owner, make sure that you burn incense in a well-ventilated area. You can accomplish this by opening a window so that the smoke can exit instead of building up inside of your space. However, keep a close eye on your pets, so they don’t jump out of it.

Avoid certain fragrances and essential oils

Last but not least, keep in mind that certain fragrances and essential oils that take part in incense can be especially harmful to both cats and dogs.

It’s difficult to go into specifics because of the many different things utilized in incense. Thus, it’s best to keep your incense out of your pet’s reach.

Other Scents That Could Be Harmful To Animals

Most scents and methods of dispensing scents aren’t harmful to people and even small children but that doesn’t mean that they’re safe for, on, or even around your pets.

Generally, cats can’t handle potentially toxic and other harmful effects of essential oils and other scents. Dogs, on the other hand, aren’t as sensitive as cats and other pets.

However, this depends on the scent, the dispensing method, and the pet. With that being said, if you’re both a fan of the next scents and pet owner, please stay cautious.

Essential oils

Many essential oils smell beautiful but they can be toxic to your pets.

Some people utilize essential oils around cats. However, this isn’t a very smart idea. On the contrary, it’s a dangerous thing because if ingested, certain essential oils can cause different neurological problems as well as upset stomach along with other more serious concerns.

Cats ingest these oils after they’ve settled on their fur by licking. So, keep that in mind. Essential oils can also cause irritation if they come into contact with a cat’s skin, nose, or lungs. If you do utilize these oils, make sure they’re heavily diluted to lower the effect on your cat.


The aroma of dry potpourri can’t cause serious issues in cats right away. However, it can be irritating to their sensitive noses. Additionally, if your cat ingests some of the potpourris, it can cause stomach issues or digestive obstruction, which could ask for surgery to remove from the stomach or intestines.

Liquid potpourri is also very harmful to cats. In fact, it’s far more dangerous than dry potpourri because it’s loaded with essential oils and cationic detergents that enable the oils and water to blend better.

The essential oils, as I already stated, can be very harmful to cats, whereas cationic detergents can cause eye or skin burns, intestinal or stomach ulcers, neurological or breathing issues, and so on. So, keep your cats away from liquid potpourri and make sure to clean up spills quickly to prevent these issues.

Scented candles

Like all candles, scented candles can pose a burn risk for both your home and pets. In other words, your animal can easily tip the candle and start a fire or catch on fire.

Other than that, the scents can also cause airway irritation or stress in animals, depending on the scent as well as how strongly scented your candle is. Generally, citrus scents aren’t favorite among animals. If you don’t want to give up on your candles, opt for cleaner-burning ones.

They’re made of vegetable wax, beeswax, or soy wax. Avoid scented candles made of paraffin or candles that include paraffin because they can emit potential irritants and impurities.

These irritants and impurities can upset the respiratory system of both humans and animals. Also, make sure that you burn these candles in well-ventilated areas for safety issues.

Air fresheners

Room sprays, deodorizers, and pine sprays can help your room smell lovely. However, they can also help coughing or asthma attacks in some pets.

For instance, asthma in cats can cause coughing spasms because of the respiratory irritating effect of air fresheners and similar products when breathed in.

Dogs with sensitive airways such as those with allergic bronchitis, kennel cough, collapsing trachea, and others can experience the very same issues.

Final Tips

Overall, you shouldn’t burn incense sticks around animals. And if you do, make sure to keep the door or window open. In other words, burn incense in well-ventilated areas only.

Additionally, if you keep the window open, make sure it’s screened so your pets can’t jump out of it. As I already mentioned, animals don’t enjoy the scents of aromatherapy products.

They’re more sensitive than people. So, incense can cause headaches among other more serious issues. Lastly, keep your incense out of your pet’s reach to prevent accidental ingestion.

Hopefully, today’s article can help you learn how to protect your animals from incense sticks and similar products. Please, share your suggestions and questions in the comments!

Andrew Scents and Aroma