Beware of plug-in diffusers

Question: I saw the information below on an individual’s Facebook page and thought it was important to share, and I have done so in other media outlets. I stopped using candles and diffusers when one of my Yorkies contracted COPD. I hope this helps you, your patients and readers. Although it affected the person’s cat, I think it could easily affect dogs. Some wanted to know what brand the owner used. Personally, I don’t think it matters – either brand is a detriment.

– Connie White

A: Hi, Connie, thanks for the warning. I am using parts of the Facebook entry you sent so readers can get a gist of the entry.

“Attention cat owners: I want to share the horrors we’ve been through the last 3 weeks. We first noticed drainage from her right nostril. She was mostly clear and had a little She was sneezing. We took her to our vet and they thought she had an upper respiratory infection. We gave her antibiotics and went on our way. A week later, the drainage increased and was bloody. Done and her appetite started to decrease…. That Sunday she stopped eating, isolated herself and I noticed she wasn’t going to the bathroom as much. At this point, anything helps. She was dying and we knew it. All day Friday I was thinking about what we did differently around the house and that’s when it hit me. About a month. Earlier, we found these really nice smelling plugs in the scented wall spread. I immediately unplugged them, opened the windows and turned on the fans. By Friday evening our cat was able to walk us. Saturday. In the morning, he woke me up at 4:45 am meowing and hungry. Her runny nose had stopped, she was eating, her balance was improving and she wanted attention. Upon further investigation we learned that many of these diffusers are toxic to animals and have a more severe reaction to cats because they are at nasal level for them.

Wow, that’s a very graphic picture of how plug-in scent diffusers can affect a pet. In the past, when I’ve worked with cats with asthma, I’ve recommended pet owners get an air purifier, but precautions against plug-ins and fragrance sprays aren’t on my radar. It’s probably because I avoid them myself. Houses are built so tight these days, and I just can’t think it’s good to put artificial fragrances in the air that can affect the lungs.

Since you wrote to me, I’ve done more research on this, and it’s not just the fragrance ingredient itself, but the volatile organic compounds that help the fragrance disperse into the air that cause problems. Also, with pets, there is concern that spilled product will settle on floors and furniture. Since cats clean themselves, they will apply it to their fur and claws and ingest it while cleaning. This is also true for cigarette smoke. So, a cautionary tale: If you use plug-ins, even with essential oils, keep them away from areas where cats are living.

I want to wish everyone a happy new year! May your year be filled with blessings and happiness!

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