Are Humidifiers Safe For Dogs? (Risks Explained!)

I live in a literal desert, which means dry air — and my chihuahua wasn’t a fan. The dryness led to my dog constantly scratching herself, her skin got flaky and raw, and her little coughs broke my heart.

Then the thought popped into my head — are humidifiers safe for dogs?

Good news: they are! My dog (she’s called Lenore, by the way) is much happier with a humidifier, and I have also learned to be careful about where and how I use the unit.

I put together this guide to help you choose the right humidifier for your dog and avoid some of my mistakes.

Are Humidifiers Safe for Dogs?

Yes! Humidifiers are generally safe for dogs.

My pooch plays, sleeps, and devours treats in a room that has a running humidifier without any health issues.

If anything, the humidifier has only benefited her! You see, dogs’ lungs, nasal passages, and airways are in many ways similar to ours. They can suffer from a dry nose or mouth, allergies, or sore throat just like pet owners.

By adding moisture to the air, the increased humidity level can help both you and your dogs breathe easier. Moisturized air eases irritation in the airways and reduces coughing, stuffy nose, itchy skin, and other ailments.

I can tell you that because I actually live with some mild respiratory problems. Both my dog and I feel much better with a good humidifier in the house.

Although humidifiers in themselves are safe for dogs, every type of humidifier comes with some risks. Here’s what you should know about their safety concerns:

Warm mist humidifiers: A warm mist humidifier uses boiling water to create hot steam. A curious dog could burn itself on the vapor stream or knock the humidifier over, spilling the boiling water inside over itself or other people.

Ultrasonic humidifier: An ultrasonic humidifier is a cool mist humidifier that produces a fine mist through ultrasonic vibrations, so it won’t burn your four-legged friend. However, they have no filters, so they could spread fine mineral dust or pollutants into the air. They could irritate your dog’s sharp nose and lungs if it suffers from respiratory issues or allergies.

Other types of humidifiers: All humidifiers — including impeller and evaporative humidifiers — contain water, so an excited dog spilling their contents is always a risk. Additionally, humidifiers could add too much humidity into your home and promote dust mite and mold growth. That can cause allergies for every resident (as I found out the hard way).

So, in summary: humidifiers are safe for dogs and may even be beneficial — as long as you the right kind of device and place it correctly.

How Can A Humidifier Benefit Your Dog?

open nasal passages

A humidifier can help open your dog’s nasal passages. Similar to how humans feel when they stand in a hot shower and feel their airways open up, the same thing happens with dogs.

Dry airways become easily irritated. Your dog’s body tries to moisturize the nasal membranes by producing excessive mucus and phlegm.

That’s how my dog’s nose and throat ended up clogged. She had a runny nose and was coughing, sneezing, and hacking.

A humidifier adds moisture back into the air and moisturizes the airways in the process. This reduces phlegm secretion and helps detach dried snot and mucus from your dog’s airway. With the humidifier, my Lenore can now breathe easier and play much more happily.

prevent snoring

A dry nose and airway can make your dog snore — especially if it’s a brachycephalic (short-snouted) breed like a Frenchie, bulldog, or pug. My friend has a Frenchie and boy, does he snore. (1)

I think a snoring dog is pretty cute, but snoring can prevent the dog from sleeping properly. If the little beast is constantly snoring loud at night, you will not sleep well, either.

A humidifier helps keep a dog’s nasal passages and mouth well moisturized. As a result, there’ll be less irritation and phlegm, which reduces snoring and lets everyone in the house sleep peacefully.

Soothe Dry skin

The dry air in my home seriously dehydrated my dog’s skin. Because of her dry and itchy skin, she had a lot of dandruff and flaking, and her fur started thinning. The poor thing was also scratching herself around the clock.

A humidifier did wonders for my dog. Adding more moisture to my home environment has helped keep my dog’s skin moisturized and resolved most of her skin issues. The dandruff is almost gone, her fur is shiny and healthy, and she’s not itching herself raw anymore.

relieve allergies

Dogs suffer from allergies just like we do. They can be allergic to dander from other household pets, dust or dust mites, feathers, pollen, and other airborne pollutants.

Humidifiers temper allergy symptoms by keeping your dog’s mucous membranes healthy through better air quality. Healthy membranes make it more difficult for allergens to stick to a dog’s nasal passages. So, the extra moisture can lead to fewer sneezes, coughs, and other allergy issues.

You can even combine a humidifier with an air purifier to efficiently remove allergens from your dog’s living environment.

Relieve Asthma

Dogs can be asthmatic just like people (I am). The mist created by a humidifier can help soothe the nose and lungs of your canine friend and reduce asthma symptoms, like coughing and wheezing.

A word of warning, though — too much humidity can make asthma symptoms much worse (I found that out the hard way). Ask a professional to provide veterinary advice before you buy a humidifier for an asthmatic pooch.

Boost Immune System

Dry air can create a real double whammy of disease for your dog. As your furry friend’s eyes and air passages dry out, they become less effective at keeping viruses and unhealthy bacteria away. Meanwhile, low moisture helps certain viruses survive, and soon your dog may be sick.

Maintaining humidity levels between 40-60% has been shown to reduce levels of airborne viruses. (2) With a humidifier, you can maintain your dog’s health and help its immune system fight off sickness.

Ease Joint Pain

Related to the previous point about virus levels, certain harmful bacteria and viruses can cause inflammation in your dog’s joints. This can be particularly uncomfortable for old dogs, who are already starting to slow down with age.

A humidifier can reduce the number of potential inflammatory pathogens. Additionally, with well-moisturized eyes and airways, your senior puppy can stave off inflammation better and live out its retirement days in comfort.

Woman Lying on Bed with Dog

How To Use Humidifiers Safely With Dogs

I thought it’d be best for my dog if I put my humidifier on the floor near her. Once I’d dried my carpet and dog after the first water spill, I realized I had to look into the proper pet safety procedures for humidifiers.

Here are five valuable tips on how to use a humidifier safely around your dogs.

1) Place the humidifier in a safe space
Make sure that you place the humidifier in a safe space where your dog cannot get to it. My dog gets the zoomies and I quickly learned not to keep my humidifier on a desk, dresser, or another tall piece of furniture.

2) Turn the humidifier off when not using it
When you are not using the humidifier, turn it off. I wouldn’t recommend running any air humidifier — whether a cool mist humidifier or warm mist humidifier — when you’re not home.

3) Monitor humidity levels

I messed up and let the humidity in my home get too high, which caused me pretty bad breathing issues. Too little humidity can also make you and your furry friend uncomfortable. So, I invested in a hygrometer to ensure the humidity levels stay within the healthy 30-50% range.

4) Steer clear of essential oils
Avoid essential oils with humidifiers, period. Most essential oils are toxic to dogs, and even those that are not toxic can easily cause allergic reactions in dogs. (3)

5) Keep the humidifier clean
Mold and bacteria can easily build up in a humidifier, so keep it clean in order to avoid humans and animals getting sick. (4) I recommend rinsing and drying your humidifier daily, and cleaning it with vinegar or a cleaning solution at least once per week.

White Brown Dog on Bed

Considerations When Choosing A Humidifier With A Dog At Home

Humidifier Type

There are two main types of humidifiers: cool mist humidifiers and warm mist humidifiers. Cool mist humidifiers can also be categorized into evaporative and ultrasonic humidifiers. Personally, I’d say go for an ultrasonic humidifier for a dog house.

Cool mist humidifiers are best for dogs and pets because they don’t have a heating element and emit a cool mist. Even if your dog gets in front of your humidifier or tips it over, it won’t be scalded with steam or boiling water.

Evaporative humidifiers produce a cool mist by sucking water into a wick filter and turning it into water vapor by blowing air over it with a fan. Evaporative humidifiers are safe, but the fan noise can bother dogs (and I found it irritating, too).

Ultrasonic humidifiers produce tiny water droplets with a vibrating plate. They are extremely quiet and small, so you can easily place them out of your dog’s reach. However, they are unfiltered, so use distilled water — otherwise the minerals in the water could cover your home in white dust.

Warm mist humidifiers boil water to create steam that can boost the humidity levels and temperature in your home very effectively. However, your dog could burn itself on the hot water vapor. I would not buy a warm mist unit with my playful dog in the house.

Safety Systems

I’ve found an auto-shutoff feature to be hugely helpful for my pet. I can set my humidifier to run during certain times without having to constantly keep an eye on the device. That said, don’t leave the humidifier running when you leave the house unless it has a built-in humidistat so the unit can turn itself off if humidity gets too high.

Noise Levels

A humidifier with a fan, like an evaporative humidifier, tends to get pretty loud. My dog isn’t too bothered by a humidifier’s noise, but yours could be.

Stick to units that don’t have a fan, like ultrasonic humidifiers. That said, your dog could hear the whirr of an ultrasonic humidifier even though you can’t.

Power Requirements

The power requirements between humidifier units can be stark. I’m pretty environmentally minded, so I recommend looking for energy-efficient models that will save both resources and money. Ultrasonic humidifiers generally have low energy consumption, unlike warm mist humidifiers, which can be real electricity hogs.

People Also Ask (FAQ)

Is a Vicks humidifier bad for dogs?

Yes, a Vicks Vaposteam humidifier is dangerous for dogs. If you have a dog at home, do not purchase the Vicks humidifier, as it could be potentially lethal. Only use pure water in a humidifier around your dog or any other animal.

Does a humidifier help with dog smell?

A humidifier can’t reduce dog smell in your home, since it is not designed to clean the air. However, it can help reduce dog odor stemming from dry skin and mouth conditions.

Is Eucalyptus bad for dogs?

Eucalyptus oil is toxic to dogs. (5) Do not use eucalyptus around your dog. It should not be ingested, applied to the skin, or distributed into the air that dogs breathe.

Can dry air affect dogs?

Dry air can affect dogs by drying out their nose, mouth, and respiratory airways. It can also dry out their skin and make their coat brittle and dull. A humidifier can be effective in reducing these problems.

What scents are toxic to dogs?

Many essential oils and scents can be fatally toxic to dogs, including cinnamon, peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, pine, citrus, wintergreen, and sweet birch. Don’t use essential oils in your dog’s humidifier.


Humidifiers are perfectly safe around dogs as long as you place them correctly and don’t use dangerous additives. They add moisture to the air and can help your dog — and you — breathe easier. They also help keep the skin moisturized and can help your dog’s coat stay shiny and smooth.

Just pick your humidifier right and follow all safety precautions, and you can make the air in your home healthier for your four-legged friend. I’ve definitely been very happy with my humidifier — and so has my dog!

Heating up for summer? Check out our article on dog house air conditioners



Josh Mitchell

Josh Mitchell

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with DIY and improving my family home. HVAC topics can be tricky for homeowners so I decided to share my knowledge on the subject. When I am not working on DIY projects, you can find me at the beach or my local coffee shop.