It’s ironic that air fresheners can be dangerous for your Morkie or any small dog, because they are often the reason we’re using an air freshener! What are the dangers of air fresheners?

Popular commercial air fresheners for your home are often made with formaldehyde (a know carcinogen), and xylene (a neurotoxin).

Some actually use a nerve deadening chemical so you can’t smell the offensive odour, while others coat your nasal passage with an oily film.

Types of air fresheners in the home

According to the EPA (the Environmental Protection Agency) indoor air pollutants are among the top 5 environmental health risks. These pollutants can come from:

  • scented candles
  • sprays
  • plug ins
  • furniture and fabric sprays

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

Don’t let the word organic fool you. These ARE organic chemicals, but they easily morph into dangerous vapours or gases, hence the word volatile. Along with carbon, VOCs contain hydrogen, oxygen, fluorine, bromine, sulphur and even chlorine.

There are literally thousands of products around the home that emit volatile organic compounds. Other VOCs include vapours from gasoline, paint thinners, lacquer thinners and dry cleaning fluids. But you certainly wouldn’t open up a big old can of paint thinner to ‘freshen’ your room.


Air fresheners can be dangerous for many pets, especially cats and birds.

Dangers of air fresheners

Both you AND your Morkie and other pets can suffer from an air freshener’s effects, which include:

  • nose and throat irritation
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • asthma
  • cancer

These products affect the central nervous system, blood, heart, liver, kidneys and respiratory systems of pets,  and people.

Police yourself

There are no federally enforceable standards for VOCs in the home, in either the United States or Canada, so it’s up to you to take care:

  • read the labels carefully if you must use a commercial air freshener
  • never over-apply an air freshener
  • ventilate your rooms well
  • store all chemicals away from your living quarters
  • change furnace and/or air conditioning filters often
  • consider natural alternatives or an electronic air cleaning unit instead

Most importantly, according to then EPA, is to address the source of the unpleasant odour instead of masking it with another scent. Avoid all synthetic fragrances.

Air cleaners as a solution?

There are several types of air cleaners available; they attack the particles that make up indoor air pollution (such as dust mites and mold) as well as the gases (VOCs, smoke, pesticides). Getting an air clean is a complex subject; you can find more information at these non-manufacturer sites:

Try a do-it-yourself, natural air cleaner

Lemon-rosemary simmer pot

  • stock pot filled about 2/3 full of water
  • 1 lemon, cut up
  • some vanilla extract
  • a few sprigs of rosemary
  • Put all ingredients in the pot and simmer away for about 2 days then change it
Research any essential oils you use around the home - some aren't safe for all pets.

Research any essential oils you use around the home – some aren’t safe for all pets.

Baking soda shakeup

Add about 1/4 cup of baking soda to a mason jar; then cut out paper to replace the tin lid. Punch small holes in the paper lid. Add an essential oil or two if you’re familiar with which ones are safest. Gently shake from time to time.  Will last about 2 months. For large rooms, use 2 shakers.

Indoor Plants

Many, such as the spider plant, do an excellent job of freshening the air.

Others include a number of plants in the philodendron family, like heart-shaped philodendron, the Warnecki, and the peace lily. NASA identified some other air cleaning plants back in 1989, including the Corn Plant, Dracaena, English Ivy and the Snake plant.

There are many varieties of easy-to-grow, indoor plants that help clean the air.

There are many varieties of easy-to-grow, indoor plants that help clean the air.