Fall and winter are the times of year when we start to turn our focus inward. The days get shorter and darker and the weather cooler. We're cocooning ourselves inside and enjoying all things cozy and comforting—and filling our homes with seasonal scents (think: pumpkin spice, vanilla, apples and pine) via scented fall candles is a vital part of creating that ambiance.
But pet owners need to think twice before bringing those candles home because, as it turns out, some pets may develop respiratory ailments and other health problems when they're used around the house. (You can read more about the dangers of traditional candles below.)
No need to worry, though: You don’t have to sacrifice the scents of your favorite fall candles for the health of your furry family. There are some pet-safe candles that can give you the homey atmosphere you desire while keeping your pets safe and healthy.
How to Shop for Pet-Safe Candles
When shopping for pet-safe candles, look for...
- products that are specifically marketed as being safe for pets,
- candles that use natural soy, coconut or vegetable-based wax over paraffin (which can contain more respiratory irritants), and
- candles that use an unbleached 100 percent cotton wick (lead wicks can be toxic).
As a rule of thumb, always keep an eye on your pet for respiratory irritation symptoms, like sneezing; and always keep lit candles and other home fragrance products well out of reach of pets.
Ready to stock up on candles? Here are some of our favorite pet-safe candles in some of our favorite fall and winter scents, from pumpkin spice to teakwood.
Our Favorite Fall Candles
Pet House Pumpkin Spice Natural Soy Candle, $23
Pet House candles neutralize odors to help clear away unwanted smells—like your kitty’s litter box, for example.
Designed especially for pet parents, these 100 percent natural soy candles contain no dyes or paraffin, feature clean-burning cotton wicks and are made in the USA.
For a pumpkin spice latte in candle form, look to this scent that blends together the classic fall scents of pumpkin, cinnamon sugar, maple butter and vanilla bean.
Pet House Vanilla Creme Brulee Natural Soy Candle, $23
Neutralize pet odors and enjoy the yummy scents of creamy vanilla, maple cinnamon and caramelized sugar with an underlying hint of bamboo in Pet House's Vanilla Creme Brulee soy candle.
With a 70-hour burn time, it’ll likely last until winter!
Pet Odor Exterminator Cinnamon Apple Deodorizing Candle, $10
No need to head out to the apple orchard (although that does make for a fun fall activity!).
You can enjoy the classic combination of apples and cinnamon all season long with Pet Odor's Exterminator Cinnamon Apple Deodorizing Candle.
With a 70-hour burn time, this soy blend candle contains enzymes that help neutralize pet odors.
Pet House Lavender Vanilla Natural Soy Candle, $23
Pet parents can breathe easy knowing Pet House's candles are free of dyes, paraffin, sarabands, formaldehyde and many other bad-for-pet ingredients, and only boast 100 percent natural soy wax, premium non-toxic fragrance and a 100 percent cotton wick.
Plus, this particular candle smells great, with floral fragrances of lavender and vanilla and subtle notes of eucalyptus, cedar wood and sandalwood. Ah, smells like fall.
Our Favorite Winter Candles
Thompson's Candle Co. Pine Forest Candle, $32
Pet Odor Exterminator Mulberry & Spice Candle, $10
Sand + Paws Paw Print Label Teakwood Candle, $22
What we call our "boyfriend candles" due to their strong cologne-like scent, we're absolute suckers for teakwood-scented candles, especially in the wintertime. With base notes of sandalwood, patchouli, cedarwood and moss, and notes of fresh citrus and apple, it's a scent that'll cozy-up any home.
And for those with pets, Sand + Paws is a safe candle brand that's made with a soy wax blend and burns for about 36 hours. So, when it's time to cuddle on the couch, light this bad boy up. It's sure to help you both unwind.
Southern Therapy Candles K-9 Cologne Candle, $18
Speaking of cologne-like candles, Southern Therapy Candles' K-9 Cologne Candle is equally as intoxicating. It features a blend of cool mint, refreshing basil and earthy sage fragrances. It's a candle that's just begging to burned in your kitchen after-hours.
The best part? This made-in-Georgia coconut soy wax candle that lasts about 45 hours also acts as a pet odor eliminator.
Pet House Apple Cider Candle, $23
Apple-scented candles aren't strictly reserved for the fall months. They're great for winter, too, because who doesn't love warming their hands on a mug filled nearly to the brim with nearly-piping-hot apple cider when the temps take a dive?
As with all Pet House Candles, this candle not only banishes those pet odors and neutralizes the air, but it also leaves a lovely apple cider scent. Plus, it comes in a reusable jar for all you fellow eco-friendly pet parents to repurpose.
The Dangers of Traditional Candles
While scented candles may smell amazing to us humans, some can be irritating and downright dangerous to our pets.
Traditionally-made scented candles, as well as scented aerosols and wall plug-ins, rely on synthetic compounds to create their fragrance. These compounds often contain harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are then released into the air when the product is burned, heated up or sprayed. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), some VOCs may have short- and long-term adverse health effects, and concentrations are up to 10 times higher indoors than outdoors. For pets who spend most of their lives indoors, that can be dangerous.
"The smaller the pet, the more dangerous some of these chemical inhalants can be," explains Dr. Jason Palm, DVM, owner of Hiawassee Veterinary Clinic in Orlando, Florida.
"Cats, in particular, are susceptible to respiratory illness stemming from indoor fragrances, like candles and wall-plug-ins. They have smaller airways and are typically inside 24/7, so they’re constantly exposed to this irritant."
This can lead to a condition called feline asthma, an allergic reaction to inhaled allergens, explains Dr. Palm, who notes that the symptoms of coughing and sneezing are classic signs of an exaggerated immune system response.
"If a culture doesn't show a bacterial infection, we have to suspect it's an immune system response, and the best treatment for that is to get rid of the offending odor, which in many cases are home fragrance candles or plug-ins," he says.
It's easy to overlook the way scents affect our pets, particularly if we are unaffected by the odor. What we must remember is that animals' noses are much more sensitive than our human noses, so they can be more easily overwhelmed by irritants than we are.
So what’s a concerned pet parent to do? Look for pet-friendly alternatives, of course, like the candles we listed above.
Enjoy Those Scents Safely
We don't want to scare pet parents into thinking that they can never enjoy a scented home again, but it is definitely a situation that requires a little buyer awareness.
Read the labels, know what you are purchasing, pay attention to your pet’s reaction to home scents and give your vet a call if they develop any abnormal respiratory symptoms.
While that PSL perfume is seemingly a fall essential, we don’t have to tell you that it should never override your fur baby’s health!
Keep Your Home Safe and Looking Great This Holiday Season: