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Are Humidifiers Safe to Use Around Pets?

cat with humidifier


People tend to stock up on all sorts of items as winter (and cold and flu season) draw near. You likely fill your shopping cart with medicine, extra tissues, ways to keep warm, and a humidifier to help combat the drier air. But, did you ever wonder if is it safe to use humidifiers around pets?

Depending on the type of humidifier, it might be somewhat helpful for your furry friend, but you need to be careful. Certain humidifiers can pose some potential risks to dogs and cats. Therefore, it's wise to know your options and decide if using humidifiers with pets is right for you and your furry friends.

The Pros And Cons Of Using Humidifiers With Pets

Perhaps you're wondering if a humidifier can specifically help your pet. Or, maybe you just plan to use one for yourself and want to make sure it's safe to do so around your pets. 

Using a humidifier can undoubtedly provide some potential benefits for some pets. However, in many cases, your pet likely won't need a humidifier, and using one can pose more of a hazard than a helping hand. Therefore, weigh all your options before deciding to use a humidifier with your fur friend.

The Potential Benefits Of Humidifiers For Pets

Using a humidifier could help your cat or dog if they have a cold and they’re dealing with a runny or stuffy nose. Plus, dogs and cats can deal with issues related to asthma, very much like humans. Although cats tend to be more prone to asthma than dogs, both fur friends can get the condition. The rough estimate is that about 1% of cats in the US deal with chronic or acute asthma.

Many things can trigger your pet’s asthma, including mold spores, smoke, and certain air fresheners. Another thing that can potentially set off an asthma attack is dry air. Since drier air tends to aggravate and increase asthma symptoms, your pal could benefit from a humidifier. 

If you’re unsure whether or not your pet has asthma, look for symptoms like wheezing, lethargy, excessive mucus, and a constant cough. If you suspect your canine companion or feline friend might have asthma, a trip to the vet is an absolute must.

Your vet can recommend the best form of treatment, help you pinpoint your pet’s possible triggers, and offer professional guidance. Stress can heighten asthma symptoms for some pets, so you might find that simply reducing your pet’s stress level can help. 

Using calming sprays or diffusers, interactive toys, or a lick mat could prove helpful if this is the case. Licking releases endorphins, which promote a sense of calmness and can help your furry pal feel less anxious.

Other potential benefits of humidifiers are soothing dry and itchy skin. Still, keep in mind, while a humidifier can offer relief if your pet has dry, itchy skin, it’s imperative to find out why this is the case. Is it allergies? An infection? Parasites? You want to make sure you also address any issues at the source and use a humidifier as a way to offer relief, not as a cure-all.

The Best Type Of Humidifiers For Pets

Humidifiers come in all sorts of styles, such as evaporative cool-mist and warm-mist models and ultrasonic varieties. There are even humidifiers that incorporate into your home's HVAC system.

First, find out if your HVAC system includes a humidifier — if you’re not sure, check the manual or talk to your technician. If your HVAC system doesn’t have one, then you can proceed with purchasing a humidifier. 

Ultrasonic humidifiers use vibration to create moisture droplets, vibrating at incredibly high frequencies. Despite the vibrations, ultrasonic models are quieter than other types of humidifiers. However, your pet may be able to hear the frequencies, even if you can't. If you opt for an ultrasonic model, pay attention the first few days to make sure it doesn’t appear to be causing your pet's ears any discomfort.

The most common type of humidifier is an evaporative humidifier, which uses a fan to disperse moisture throughout the space. You can use a cool mist or a warm mist evaporative humidifier. 

Both versions add moisture to the air, and additionally, warm-mist models boil the water inside and add an extra level of protection during cold and flu season. This is because the hot water can help destroy surrounding germs.

What Are The Risks Of Using Humidifiers With Pets?

The basic process of a humidifier adding moisture to the air is not harmful to your pets. In fact, this added moisture is what can help ease allergies, soothe skin, make breathing easier, and perhaps even help with your pet’s snoring. 

But, as previously mentioned, you need to know your options. A cool-mist humidifier is better for pets than a warm-mist humidifier. Simply because a warm-mist humidifier uses boiling water, and it can potentially burn your pet if it gets knocked over or your curious furry friend gets too close.

However, you need to be careful with both cool and warm mist evaporative humidifiers because of the water in the reservoir. If the humidifier tips over close to an electrical outlet, there’s the risk of shock. So if you have a rambunctious or curious pet, you may want to keep that in mind.

dog laying on bed

Safety Tips For Using Humidifiers Around Pets

It’s best to make sure you keep humidifiers out of reach of your pets. This can prove more challenging with cats that like to climb and be up in high places. But, it’s still good practice, especially if you insist on using a warm-mist humidifier. You want to try and prevent accidental tip-overs and burns.

The first few times you use the humidifier, make sure you stick around to observe your pet. Don’t leave them unattended until they’ve grown accustomed to the humidifier and no longer show interest in it. 

Never use essential oils or products like Vicks Vaposteam with the humidifier, as these can irritate your pet’s eyes, nose, and skin. Some oils are even toxic for pets. Certain oils can be fatal when ingested and even cause severe complications if inhaled over some time.

Select a larger humidifier that is sturdy and won’t easily topple. Also, once you plug it in, set it up as far as you can from the outlet. This way, if the humidifier does tip, at least you won’t have water pouring onto an electrical outlet and the plug. 

Just as when using a humidifier for yourself, you should only use distilled water in your humidifier. Tap water can contain minerals that the humidifier will then release into the air with moisture. Some of these minerals can cause health problems for both you and your pets. Plus, using distilled water will help keep your humidifier cleaner and prevent bacteria from breeding. 

Finally, if your pet is extremely curious and won’t leave the humidifier alone, your better bet is to nix the idea. Instead, talk with your vet about other ways you can provide relief to your pet. If you’re using the humidifier for yourself, do so in a room when your pet is not in it at the same time. Or, always make sure to be present with your pet while you are running the humidifier.

As the colder, drier weather approaches, it’s always wise to make sure your pets are well taken care of and comfortable. So, check out the rest of our blog to find helpful tips, fun winter destinations for you and your pet, and more, so you can make the most of the coming season.


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