Are Reed Diffusers Safe for Pets? (dogs, cats, birds, or tortoises)

Living in a nicely scented house or flat is a pleasure for both you and your guests. However, if your favorite fragrance comes from a diffuser or essential oils, you are now probably wondering whether these are safe for your pet.

While many owners don’t think that such diffusers can represent a risk for the health of our furry friend, you should keep in mind that most pets are much more sensitive to smells than we are.

So, are reed diffusers safe for pets? While it depends on the type of pet you are caring for, often, reed diffusers are overwhelming for our cats and dogs. If your pet has been suffering from asthma, essential oils can be particularly dangerous.

In any case, you should watch out for signs of irritation or breathing problems in your pet when introducing a reed diffuser in your house.

Read on to find out whether reed diffusers are safe for your dog, cat, bird, or tortoise.


Are Reed Diffusers Safe for Dogs?

Dogs, similarly to cats, are incredibly sensitive to smell and odors. While the sweet scent of Lavender that makes your house feel so fresh can be so pleasant to you, such smell can be irritating and overwhelming for your dog.

In fact, you should remember that even if you have bought the most natural reed diffusers, natural is not necessarily synonymous to “safe.”

Many extracts and oils that come entirely from plants are toxic for humans as well, let alone for your dog! While some vets might be using specific essential oils on your pets to better a condition such as anxiety, you should not use a reed diffuser unconsciously around them.

There are, in fact, substances that your dog will steer clear from naturally and, by introducing such toxins into their homes, you could seriously harm their health.

Essential Oils That Can Be Dangerous for Your Dog

While some essential oils can be used safely on your dog, you should stay away from:

  • Juniper
  • Rosemary
  • Tea Tree
  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen
  • Clove
  • Garlic

Are Reed Diffusers Safe for Cats?

Cats are among the most sensitive animals when it comes to reed diffusers. Don’t ever forget that your loving feline is equipped with one of the best capacities to smell and identify odors in the animal world.

When introducing a soft scent of citrus into your household, your cat might not be able to breathe or can even be intoxicated by it.

Moreover, don’t forget your feline’s cute habit of licking his or her fur to stay clean and fluffy for you. Airborne oils and particles that come from passive diffusers such as reed, heath, and motorized diffusers can eventually land on the fur of your cat.

If this happens, the chances are that your cat will ingest the essential oil while licking his fur. It can be incredibly dangerous and even lead to poisoning.

Essential Oils That Can Be Dangerous for Your Cat

As we have seen, any essential oil spread through a Reed diffuser can be dangerous for your cat. However, the following essential oils are particularly dangerous for his or her health, so stay clear of them when picking the next scent for your home.

  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus
  • Cassia
  • Lemon
  • Lavender
  • Thyme
  • Spruce
  • Tea Tree
  • Eucalyptus
  • Clove
  • Peppermint

Read my full article on What Essential Oils Are Safe to Diffuse Around Cats and Dogs.

Are Reed Diffusers Safe for Birds?

While there hasn’t been much research on what are the effects and benefits of essential oils on your bird, you should take into consideration that their respiratory systems are incredibly fragile, especially if compared to humans or other larger pets.

If you had been using candles to make your home smell nice, you should know that these are among the most dangerous ways of freshening up your home. In fact, they contain certain chemicals that are very dangerous for your bird’s health.

Reed diffusers, when infused with all-natural essential oils are less dangerous for your pet as they don’t contain as many chemicals.

However, you should keep in mind that such strong smells are not common in nature, and your bird might not be used to it. To be completely safe, you should speak to your vet before introducing a new reed diffuser into your home.

If you are looking for a safer way to make the room with your bird’s cage smell pleasant, try vaporizing with a spray bottle a natural scent, preferably homemade with herbs.

Essential Oils That Can Be Dangerous for Your Bird

You can still use essential oils around your bird, but they should be limited to the ones that would not cause irritation or can be harmful to their health. Here is a list of the ones you should avoid, but you should always speak to your vet before introducing a new reed diffuser into your home:

  • Tea tree
  • Peppermint
  • Eucalyptus
  • Arborvitae
  • Pine
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Oregano
  • Citronella

Are Reed Diffusers Safe for Tortoises?

Similarly to birds, the respiratory system of your tortoise is incredibly fragile. While they can stand different smells, you should make sure that the reed diffuser you have picked is entirely free of any chemicals or dangerous substances that can be detrimental for the health of your pet.

In any case, even if you have planned on using essential oils, you should keep the diffuser in a different room from the one your pet lives in.

Essential Oils That Can Be Dangerous for Your Tortoises

Similarly to other reptiles, tortoises are dangerously affected by:

  • Cedarwood
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Birch
  • Black Pepper
  • Coriander
  • Eucalyptus
  • Jasmine
  • Birch
  • Black Pepper
  • Juniper Melaleuca

Safety Guidelines

To keep your pet safer around your reed diffuser, you should:

  • Store the essential oils used in the diffuser out of your pet’s reach.
  • The diffuser should also be away from the reach of your pet, preferably in a different room.
  • Consider diluting the fragrance to make sure that the smell is not too strong for your pet.
  • Only diffuse in a room different from the one your pet lives in.
  • Birds and smaller animals have a very delicate respiratory system, and it is recommended not to diffuse around them.
  • Avoid diffusing altogether if your pet suffers from asthma or other respiratory illnesses.
  • If, by mistake, your pet enters in direct contact with the oils in the reed diffusers (ingested or on their fur/skin), call your vet immediately. He might suggest that you phone up ASPCA (Animal Poison Control Hotline) as well.

Signs of Poisoning

If your pet shows one of the following symptoms, bring him or her to your pet and stop using your diffuser immediately.

Initially, you might notice:

  • Irritation or inflammation – face, paws, skin.
  • Hair loss
  • Hypersalivation
  • Coughing and difficulty breathing

A more severe poisoning by essential oil can cause:

  • Behavioral changes
  • Ataxia
  • Depression
  • Tremors or seizures


Generally speaking, reed diffusers should be kept away from your pets as they might be much more sensitive to scents than we are. Dogs and Cats are especially subjected to strong fumes and smells, and diffusers can be toxic and overwhelming for them.

Moreover, they tend to clean themselves by licking their fur, where residuals of your reed diffuser might have landed overtime.

At the same time, birds and tortoises have a particularly fragile respiratory system which can be easily affected if they are exposed for a long time to a reed diffuser.

Ultimately, you should always consult your vet before introducing a reed diffuser into your house and eliminate it promptly if you notice any signs of irritation and breathing difficulty in your pet.

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Grace Young

I love candles! I have personally tried over 100 brands of candles. The total burn time of these candles is over 5000 hours. I also talk about essential oil diffusers and reed diffusers. Essential oil diffusers and diffusers are also an important part of the scent in my home.

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