Using a Humidifier Can Benefit Your Dog (5 Safety Tips)

Ile Kauppila

Written By

Ile Kauppila

Expert Reviewed By

Josh Mitchell

Last Updated On

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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.

Key Takeaways

  • Yes, humidifiers are safe for dogs. They can improve a dog’s general health by alleviating illnesses stemming from dry air.
  • Excessive humidity, however, can be detrimental to your dog’s health.
  • It is important to maintain humidity levels between 30%-50% for optimal air quality.

Are Humidifiers Completely 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.
Are humidifiers safe for dogs

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 Boil Water

Types of 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 Humidifiers Are Safe But Have No Filters

An ultrasonic humidifier is a cool mist humidifier.

Ultrasonic humidifier 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.

Important Note:

Evaporative humidifiers have a wick filter that can filter the air to a small degree, but they are certainly not a replacement for an air purifier. 

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 use the right kind of device and place it correctly.

TL;DR: A cool mist humidifier is the ideal choice for a dog. Warm mist humidifiers boil water which can cause scalding burns if it comes in contact by accident.

How Can A Humidifier Benefit Your Dog?

The following are some of the way in which a humidifier can help your dog.

Opens 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.

TL;DR: For a congested nasal passage, humidifiers can work wonders. 

Moisturizes Air Which Prevents 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 loudly 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.

TL;DR: Dry nasal passage can cause snoring. Humidifiers can alleviate this.

Soothes Dry And Flaky 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.

TL;DR: Flaking, dandruff and thinning fur are tell-tale signs of skins issues being caused by dry air. Humidifiers can keep skin of your dog moisturized.

Relieve Allergy Symptoms

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.

Relieves Asthma Inducing Triggers

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.

Word Of Warning:

Too much humidity can make asthma symptoms much worse.

Ask a professional to provide veterinary advice before you buy a humidifier for an asthmatic pooch.

TL;DR: Humidifiers can alleviate an asthmatic dog if symptoms are being caused by dry air.

Helps Maintain Moisture To Boost The 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.

TL;DR: Optimal humidity levels of 40-60% can boost your dog's immune system.

Eases 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.

TL;DR: A well moisturized air helps reduce inflammatory pathogens promoting better overall health for your dog in general and relaxing joint stiffness in specific.

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.

Living room humidifier placement

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 And Maintain Optimal 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
Can you put essential oils in humidifier

Word Of Warning:

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.

TL;DR: A well moisturized air helps reduce inflammatory pathogens promoting better overall health for your dog in general and relaxing joint stiffness in specific.

Considerations When Choosing A Humidifier With A Dog At Home

Humidifier Type – I Recommend Ultrasonic

I have already discussed the different types of humidifiers above, but basically, 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.

ultrasonic vs evaporative 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.

Safety Features Like Auto-Shutoff

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.

High Noise Levels Can Be Bothersome

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 And Energy Efficiency

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.

TL;DR: Safety is of paramount importance, but factors like noise level and power consumption are also worth taking note of.

FAQs

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.

So, Should You Get A Humidifier For Your Dog?

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!

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.

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

References: 

  1. https://richmondvalleyvet.com/2017/05/29/snoring-in-brachycephalic-dog-breeds/
  2. https://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1476-069X-9-55
  3. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/are-essential-oils-safe-for-dogs/
  4. https://www.webmd.com/lung/humidifier-use-clean
  5. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/eucalyptus
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Ile Kauppila

MA Multimedia Journalism / BA English Philology

Ile Kauppila
Ile Kauppila is a globetrotting writer and editor living in Virginia. Ile holds an MA degree in Multimedia Journalism and a BA in English Philology. Ile has written for a variety of home, HVAC, and energy-related websites and publications. He has covered HVAC solutions, insulation, and energy-efficient construction, automotive AC systems for multiple auto dealerships and garages.

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