Wax melts are a popular way to add fragrance and ambiance to your home. They are small pieces of scented wax that are melted in a warmer, releasing pleasant aromas into the air. Wax melts come in various types, shapes, colors, and scents to create a cozy and relaxing atmosphere.
However, if you have cats or dogs at home, you may wonder if wax melts are safe for your furry friends. After all, pets have a much stronger sense of smell than humans and may be curious or attracted to the wax melts. In this article, we will explore the different types of wax melts, their potential risks and benefits for pets, and some tips on how to use them safely around your cats and dogs.
Types of Wax Melts
Two main components make up all wax melts: the type of wax and the fragrance source. Both of which play an important part in pet safety.
Paraffin Wax and Soy Wax
The most common wax used for making wax melts is paraffin wax, which is classified as a petroleum wax. It’s cheap, easy to mold, and holds fragrances well – but there are also some downsides. Harmful chemicals can be released when this type of wax is heated, such as benzene, formaldehyde, phthalates, and toluene. These chemicals have been known to cause respiratory problems as well as headaches, nausea, skin irritation, and cancer in both humans and animals.
The second type of wax commonly used in wax melts is soy wax, which comes from soybean oil. This type of wax is natural, renewable, vegan, and biodegradable. It also burns cleaner and longer without producing soot or toxins. The downside is that it’s more expensive – but as a consumer, it’s worth it.
Essential Oil and Fragrance Oil
The second component is what gives the wax melt its smell or fragrance. Typically, either essential oils (natural) or fragrance oils (synthetic) are used. Both types can be harmful to pets like cats and dogs, depending on the specific ingredients and how much is inhaled or ingested.
We’ll take a closer look at which scents are toxic to cats and dogs below.
Are Wax Melts Safe For Cats?
Cats are especially sensitive to scents and chemicals because they have a highly developed olfactory system coupled with a thin skin barrier. They also groom themselves frequently by licking their fur, which can expose them to more toxins. Therefore, cats are more likely to suffer from the adverse effects of wax melts than dogs.
The main risks of wax melts for cats are:
- Eating or Licking: Some curious cats may accidentally eat wax melts that are left unattended or within their reach. This could cause gastrointestinal upset or a blockage.
- Inhalation: Cats may inhale the fumes or particles from the melted wax or the warmer. This can cause respiratory distress or asthma attacks in cats. Some scents may also trigger allergic reactions or irritate the mucous membranes in cats.
- Contact: While less likely, it’s possible your cat may touch or rub against the hot wax or the warmer – potentially causing burns.
Are Wax Melts Safe For Dogs?
Dogs are significantly less sensitive to scents and chemicals than cats are, but they can still be affected by wax melts if there are toxic ingredients or high doses, like a wax melt in a small room with little airflow.
The main risks of wax melts for dogs are the same as for cats:
Essential Oils and Fragrance Oils That Are Toxic to Your Pets
As I mentioned earlier, some essential oils and/or fragrance oils can be toxic to cats and dogs. These oils can cause various symptoms, such as diarrhea, vomiting, drooling, seizures, tremors, liver damage, kidney failure, or even death.
- Tea tree
- Ylang ylang
These oils should be avoided or used with extreme caution around pets. If you are unsure about the safety of a particular oil, consult your veterinarian before using it.
What To Do If Your Pet Eats a Wax Melt
If one of your pets eats a wax melt, you should act quickly and follow these steps:
- Remove any remaining wax from your pet’s mouth or fur.
- Check the label of the wax melts for any toxic ingredients, such as xylitol, chocolate, or essential oils.
- Call your veterinarian or a pet poison helpline for advice. Have the wax melt package ready to provide information on the ingredients and the amount ingested.
- Follow the instructions given by the veterinarian or the helpline. They may advise you to induce vomiting, give activated charcoal, or bring your pet to the clinic for treatment.
- Monitor your pet for any signs of toxicity, such as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, tremors, seizures, lethargy, or difficulty breathing.