Last updated on March 29th, 2021 at 08:21 am
Pet owners always look after the health and well-being of their pets. Cats, dogs, guinea pigs, birds, rabbits…regardless of which one you have, they are an important part of our lives. That being said, one common worry I see in various forums is the effect of air purifiers on pets – namely, are air purifiers safe for pets?
The short answer – air purifiers are safe for pets, but only if they do not emit any ozone byproduct. This depends on the type of air purifier and air cleaning technology used. Namely, some air purifiers always produce ozone, some never, and some only under specific conditions. You should always check for information about ozone production and stay away from any air purifiers that produce even minimal quantities. This is especially important if you have cats, dog, parrots, birds, or rabbits. Choosing the correct air purifier is not only safe for pets, but can be helpful – especially if your pet has respiratory issues.
Feel free to keep on reading if you want a longer and more detailed anwer. As you will see, air purifiers can not only help you get rid of your allergies, then can help your pets achieve the same.
Which types of air purifiers are safe for pets?
There are quite a few different air purifier types on the market. While they all strive to give us clean indoor air and remove air pollutants, the are very different in which technology they use to do that. Here are the most common and popular commercial air purifier types currently on the market:
- HEPA technology. These are air purifiers that use HEPA filters for air cleaning and purification. They are free of ozone.
- Activated Carbon technology. Another popular method of air purifying, but this time using carbon filters. Usually comes in combination with HEPA filters and have a sole purpose of removing smells and odors. Also free of ozone.
- Air ionizers. Sometimes also called negative ion generators or ionic air purifiers. They use Interesting technology that cleans the air using negative ions. A very effective method, but has the potential to produce ozone – this depends on the ionization elements used. You can find more about this in my other post here.
- UV light. Also known as ultraviolet light, this type of air purifiers specialize in removing airborne microorganisms. The vast majority of these air purifiers produce ozone.
- Ozone generators. This type of air purifier, also known as ozonators, uses purely ozone to clean the air. Not safe and harmful for pets by default.
As you can see, there are quite a few different types, and not all produce ozone. I have prepared a simple graph that quickly shows ozone production in regards to the air purifier type.
Carbon Activated Technology
As you can see, HEPA filters and carbon activated filters are always safe for your pets as they produce no ozone. In contrast, ozone generators always produce ozone and are unsafe to use near pets, humans, and plants alike! The majority of UV light air purifiers and air ionizers do produce ozone, but some actually don’t and these are consequently very safe for your pet. Always look at the product specification label to see if it produces ozone or not. Even if the ozone production is below the allowed limit, which is 0.05 ppm of ozone, I would still look for a completely ozone-free alternative.
I the next section, I want to go over the most common group of pets and discuss any specialty in regards to air purifiers and them.
Air purifiers and dogs
Are air purifiers safe for dogs? Can air purifiers actually be beneficial to dogs?
These are two common questions that I want to specifically address. We already established that air purifiers are safe for dogs as long as they have no ozone byproduct. You are always on the safe side by picking a standard air purifier with the classic 3-stage filtration system of a pre-filter, HEPA filter and carbon activated filter. These are effective and completely free of ozone, meaning safe for your pet.
But air purifiers can actually be beneficial to dogs, especially if they have any allergic diseases, such as dog asthma! In general, smaller and older dogs have a higher chance of developing it. Just like humans, dogs can inhale airborne allergens which then trigger an allergic reaction. Some of the allergens include dust mites, mold spores, dust, pollen, and smoke. You can notice this in your dog really fast, as common symptoms include coughing, wheezing and just all-around heaving breathing by your dog.
These are the exact air pollutants that HEPA filters specialize in removing. So by introducing a good ozone-free air purifier in your home, you can treat and prevent respiratory issues (such as dog asthma) from developing and affecting your dogs. This is a relatively cheap and effective way of keeping the lungs of your dog healthy and free of future issues caused by indoor air pollution.
Air purifiers and cats
Are air purifiers safe for cats? Can air purifiers actually be beneficial to cats?
The same two common questions for dogs are also frequently asked for cats. As is the case with dogs, yes – air purifiers are completely safe for your cats, as long as they do not produce any ozone. The safest air purifier type for this purpose is the one that uses HEPA and carbon technology.
According to data, between 1% and 5% of all cats have feline asthma, which is caused by inhaling different airborne pollutants and allergens. Inflammation of the lungs takes place, making your cat experience a series of coughs, open mouth breathing, wheezing and sometimes even puking. While the intensity of feline asthma varies, it is usually worse than human asthma in terms of its aftereffects on the body. While usually not fatal, feline asthma is a progressive issue and does not weaken over time. Some other common forms of feline lung diseases are caused by various airborne bacteria and the abundance of positive ions in the air.
Having polluted indoor air can worsen and actually cause many lung-related issues in cats, which can ultimately turn into ongoing problems. Having a good, ozone-free air purifier is very beneficial for cats, as it helps with current respiratory issues and prevents new ones from occurring. Since some feline lung diseases are caused by bacteria, it is great if your air purifier comes with a UV-C light or ionizer function. These two air purifier types are really good at removing microorganisms, however many come with ozone. So always check the product specifications and try to find a model that does not produce any ozone.
Air purifiers and birds
Are air purifiers safe for birds?
As can you probably notice a common theme by now – yes, air purifiers are also completely safe for birds, if they have no ozone byproduct. So if you are an owner of a parrot or any other bird, have no fear – air purifiers will not harm your bird. Again, an air purifier that uses HEPA technology is the safest bet.
But are air purifiers also beneficial for parrots and other birds? Yes, air purifiers are even more helpful for birds than for other animals. Let me explain – like it or not, indoor air pollution is shown to be 2x-5x worse than outdoor air pollution. Ground level ozone and nitrogen oxides are two of the most common and harmful air pollutants. You have probably already heard or read that this is a really big safety concern for humans, but even more so for birds. You see, birds experience the same respiratory issues as we do when exposed to air pollutants. But they actually have it worse – this is because birds have a much higher breathing rate than humans, inhaling more harmful air particles as they breathe.
A very common lung issue in birds, caused by air pollution, is called Macaw asthma. As the name suggests, it is really popular among macaws, but can also occur in parrots and any other birds. It has all of the symptoms you would expect from an asthma – difficult breathing, coughing, discharge from the nose, lethargy etc. Fortunately is can be reversed (eventually cured) and one of the best ways of doing that is by introducing a HEPA air purifier in the room when your bird is situated. The air purifier will remove allergens and other air pollutants from your air, making it a safe environment for you and your pet bird.
Lastly, the most common health problems that occur in birds are respiratory issues. While these issues are caused by many factors such as nutrition, bacterial infections, overheating…air pollution still comes out on top. Therefore you can not really go wrong with a solid air purifier – not only will it not harm your birds, but it will also help keep them healthy. Remember tho – ozone is a big no, especially for birds due to their higher breathing rate.
Pets are like our family members and their good health is something that is very important to all pet owners. As you found out throughout this post, air purifiers are not harmful to our pets as long as they do not produce any ozone. Regardless of which kind of pet you have – cats, dogs, parrots, rabbits, guinea pigs, parrots, it does not matter. Air purifiers are not only safe for your pets, they actually help them.
Different animals have different respiratory issues and the degree to which it affects them. A very big common characteristic among them is that their most frequent diseases are connected to respiratory issues; and air pollution plays a big role here. Harmful air pollutants such as allergens and bacteria can quickly find their way into our lungs and the lungs of our beloved pets. Over time, they can really damage the respiratory system and cause ongoing issues.
One great and safe way to combat indoor air pollution are air purifiers. The ones that use the combination of HEPA filter and carbon activated filter is the safest air purifer type for your pets, as they never produce ozone. However, even UV-light air purifiers and negative ion generators (also called ionic air purifiers or simply air ionizers) have the potential to be completely safe for your pets, provided they do not generate ozone.
Always read the product information of an air purifier and do not be afraid to turn to the manufacturer if you can not find any information about ozone production levels. Picking the wrong air purifier type can quickly make things worse for your pet. on the other hand, picking the correct air purifier can lead to a big increase in the quality of life for your pet.