incense stick

Incense and Dogs. Is it Safe to Light Incense Around Fido?

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We can get a lot out of aromatherapy. The soothing smells of various herbs and essences can help us relax and feel less stressed. Some even used it to treat various ailments. From incense to essential oils to herbal blends, the right smell can go a long way. But when it comes to incense, that smell comes with smoke, too!

If you have pets around especially dogs, you should be very careful in burning incense. For the most part, incense and dogs don’t mix. Read on to learn all about it, and find out what your alternatives are.

Dangers Of Incense And Dogs

Dogs are known for their keen sense of smell. They’ve been great helpers for the police force in sniffing and tracking bombs or illegal drugs. That’s because they have up to 300 million olfactory receptors, compared to humans who only have about 6 million. In addition to that, their brain is also designed to better analyze the scents. 

Now just imagine lighting up an incense stick or a backflow incense cone.

We humans can easily detect the scent, imagine what it’s like for dogs. They’d be able to easily smell it, even if it hasn’t been lighted up. Or even if you’ve just ignited it. It is possible that they can be overpowered by the scent or they could simply be irritated by it. 

However, your dog’s personal demeanor about lighting incense is the least of your problems. Incense burning could also cause respiratory problems for your dogs, especially the breeds that have flat faces or the brachycephalic breeds.

incense and dogs

Breeds like bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Pekingese, and Boston Terriers, just to name a few, are already more prone to breathing problems because of the shorter noses. The burning of incense just aggravates this issue. 

Burning incense could release chemicals such as formaldehyde, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and benzyne. These chemicals are harmful to the dog’s respiratory system. It can irritate the respiratory tract and can even trigger asthma. It may even cause your dog to develop asthma even if they weren’t really asthmatic in the first place. 

Some symptoms to watch out for would include your dog’s intolerance to exercise and heavy breathing. Sometimes, the symptoms that show up may not be directly related to breathing, and they could be easily missed.

Such symptoms could include weight loss and loss of appetite. 

Aside from the chemicals produced while burning incense, the incense can also contain synthetic fragrances and essential oils that aren’t ideal for dogs. Even if they aren’t burned, exposure to dogs can bring harm to them.

A few of those essential oils harmful to dogs include cinnamon, pine, tea tree, and juniper. 

Although dogs may not get close to the incense because of its scent, there are still some dogs who are very curious (of course, not as curious as cats!). Curious dogs and puppies alike could chew on incense and get poisoned. This is not only due to the essential oils on the incense but it may also be due to the additives, binders, stabilizers, and other chemicals used to create the incense.

Moreover, burning incense is also a fire hazard. You should never leave it unattended with your pet around because they might knock it over and accidentally start a fire. Your pet’s fur can also burn when it accidentally touches the lit incense. 

Proper Way Of Using Incense 

Incense Sticks

With all the possible risks involved in burning incense with your dog around, you’d certainly be thinking twice about it. If you really want to burn incense without harming your dog, there are a few ways on how to do that.

Keep Pup Away 

The first way is to burn incense when your dog isn’t around. If your dog is on the vet or is scheduled for a spa day or a grooming session, you can use that alone time to burn your favorite incense, like these HEM Lavender Incense Sticks. HEM is one of our favorite brands of incense.

If you’re meditating while burning your incense, keep the dog out of your meditation room.

Ventilate the Room

When burning incense, make sure that the room is well ventilated. Even if you’ve chosen a scent safe for dogs, other chemicals might still linger in the air. Open your windows and a fan to refresh the room before taking your dog home. Even if you’re dog-free, it’s still a good idea to open a window when your incense is smoking.

Choose Dog-Friendly Scents

Another way is to burn incense that is pet-safe like the Gonesh Best Friends Incense.

Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

They claim that they use scents safe for dogs. However, there is no guarantee that your dogs will like it. Be sure to give them the option to leave by providing them access outside in case they’d like to leave. Also, just as with any incense, make sure that the room is well ventilated to avoid the concentrated scent. 

Alternatives To Incense

If you use any of the ways above, make sure to keep a close eye on your dogs. Observe them make sure they aren’t displaying any problems. If you really want to avoid problems due to using incense, it would be best to find alternatives for aromatherapy. 

Aromatherapy Massage

One way to experience aromatherapy without risking your dog’s health is through massage oils (and if you can manage it, a full on massage on a massage table!). There are massage oils like the Majestic Pure Lavender Massage Oil that provide delightful scents without burning anything. This lotion contains lavender for a soothing and relaxing experience.

Similarly, Bath and Body Works Aromatherapy Lotion is also a great alternative if you don’t like the greasy feel of oils.

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Just make sure that right after you apply the massage oils, your dog doesn’t lick you!


Your baths can also be more relaxing and fun when you include bath bombs with essential oils in them. The Naga Living Bath Bombs set has colorful and fragrant bath bombs that you and even kids will enjoy

Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you prefer a relaxing foot bath instead, you could also incorporate aromatherapy by using Detox Bath Salt.

Essential Oil Diffusers

Lastly, you can also use diffusers lie the URPOWER Essential Oil Diffuser. See our list for more information on essential oil diffusers and nebulizers.

Last update on 2024-07-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Using an essential oil diffuser or nebulizer is much safer than burning incense because when your dog is around. These products don’t typically release harmful chemicals, and nothing is being burned.

However, you should still be careful with the essential oils to use. Also, allow your dog to leave while your diffusing because the scent might be too much for them.

If you observe that the dog always leaves when you diffuse, it’s best not to use it when they are around. 


If you have a large, well-ventilated space, and a dog that doesn’t seem bothered by incense, it’s probably not a huge deal to burn incense when the dog is present. But if your space doesn’t meet all of these circumstances, you should keep your dog away when you’ve got the incense burning.

Play with the pooch after incense time!