Are Car Fresheners Safe to Use Around Dogs?

Cuteness may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story. Learn more about our affiliate and product review process here.

Your car is starting to smell, perhaps because it's full of pet odors from your dog riding along with you. Now, you're looking for a deodorizer to get rid of the bad smells and keep your car fresh. That's why you're looking into car fresheners. Before you buy one, you want to know: Is it safe for dogs? Or is there something in it that could harm your pup? Find out more and then decide on an odor eliminator that's safe and effective.


Image Credit: xavierarnau/E+/GettyImages

Concerns with car fresheners

If you're using an air freshener in your car, whether it's in the form of a spray or a car vent clip, it could be toxic to your dog because of the Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, it contains. VOCs cause the scent inside of the spray or the car vent clip to dissipate into the air, and they can lead to negative health impacts for humans and animals. These include headaches, respiratory issues, nose, eye, and throat irritation, nausea, kidney, liver, and nervous system damage, and cancer.


Video of the Day

VOCs are such a concern that it's not even a good idea to use plug-in air fresheners in your home. The air freshener chemicals can get on your dog's hair and skin and be especially dangerous if your dog grooms himself. If you do have air fresheners in your home, you need to well-ventilate your house and not keep the air fresheners in the same place where your dog grooms himself. Another concern with fresheners is that they may contain essential oils, which may be hazardous to your dog, especially if your dog has respiratory issues. When your pup inhales essential oils in the air, they are taking in minuscule droplets of oil, which go into the lungs and accumulate in fatty tissues like the brain.


Using odor eliminators

Instead of using car fresheners, use a non-toxic odor eliminator and deodorizer. You can find odor eliminator sprays at pet stores or online. They won't consist of dangerous ingredients as car fresheners do. Another option is to get an air purifier for your car. Not only will you eliminate pollutants in your car, but you can also make it smell better. Look for one that is designed to rid of odors, like ionic purifiers, which are known for being better than HEPA systems.


Try natural air fresheners

You don't need to purchase car fresheners, and an alternative is to use natural air fresheners. One idea is to put ground coffee in your car overnight so that it will absorb odors. You can also go to your garden and pick out some fresh-smelling herbs and plants, and then place them in a mason jar or a baggie in your car. Just make sure that you use herbs and plants that aren't toxic to dogs, and keep the baggie or mason jar out of your dog's reach at all times.


Image Credit: Moe ha/iStock/GettyImages

Other ways to keep your car clean and fresh

You can address pet odors by cleaning your car on a regular basis. Vacuum it and dust it and use a natural, pet-friendly cleaner to spray down surfaces. You can take it to a car wash for a deep cleaning, which will include shampooing your seats and steaming your vehicle, every once in a while as well. An effective and safe DIY cleaner you can use is a mixture of vinegar and water. Create a mix of one part vinegar to two parts water. Pet stores will also sell pet-friendly cleaning supplies.



If your dog travels in the car with you on a regular basis, then get seat covers to protect your seats and trap dirt and odors. Find covers that you can easily hand wash or put into the washing machine. Also, make sure you put your dog in a harness or in their crate on the floor so that he isn't jumping everywhere and creating a mess. Before they travel with you, you can give them a bath or wash off their paws at the very least.


Image Credit: Photoboyko/iStock/GettyImages

In summary

Car fresheners are not safe for dogs. However, there are a number of things you can do to freshen up your car without harming your pup. By trying these methods, you'll be able to drive in a fresh-smelling car and have you pup come with you for the ride.



Report an Issue

screenshot of the current page

Screenshot loading...