The once-popular spice sage is now part of a bigger trend – smudging or burning sage because of its antimicrobial properties and medicinal effects. But what about the effect of burning sage on dogs? Is smudging around pets okay?
Is burning sage safe for dogs? Adding a dash of sage in its spice form is safe. However, burning sage (or anything else for that matter) around your dog is not. The smoke from burning sage is hazardous to dogs on various levels. Therefore, you need to avoid direct exposure of your pet to your burning sage.
In this article, we will talk about the safety of burning sage for dogs. First, we will go through the benefits of eating sage and then go in-depth on the potential issues arising from burning sage around dogs.
What Is Burning Sage?
Burning sage (Salvia officinalis) or often called common sage and garden sage, is, in fact, an aromatic herb from the Mint family (Lamiaceae). Burning sage used to be a popular spice often paired with meat dishes.
Today, burning sage (and its alternatives such as the white sage) is cultivated due to its characteristically earthy and pungent smell and used for smudging – burning in other to cleanse the space from harmful energy.
In simpler terms, burning sage is a cost-effective air purifier. Sage has strong antimicrobial properties, thus helping kill potentially pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Is Sage Safe for Dogs?
Yes, in its edible (fresh or dried) form, sage is perfectly safe for dogs. In fact, it is more than safe – it is beneficial.
As an antimicrobial, sage can help dogs with infections in the digestive tract and skin infections. It also has some natural anti-inflammatory properties and can be used for managing allergies, arthritis, and indigestions.
There are various effective ways of adding sage to the healthcare regimen – from mixing the fresh or dried leaves with the dog’s food to boiling them and putting them over infected skin. It is also practical to bake homemade dog-friendly treats with sage.
Is Burning Sage Safe for Dogs?
While eating sage and putting sage on wounds is perfectly safe for dogs, burning sage is not. The truth is, burning anything around your dog is not safe as exposure to smoke triggers several health risks. Here are the risks of burning sage for dogs.
Risk number 1: Smell overstimulation
It is a well-known fact that dogs have a superior sense of smell. Therefore, scents we find mild can be extremely strong for dogs. The scent produced by burning sage will overstimulate the dog’s sense of smell and may cause temporary or, depending on the severity, even long-term damage. If you have ever been perfume sampling, you know what we are talking about – at first, you get all the perfume scents right, and after smelling a certain number of different perfumes, your nose is numb and does not feel anything anymore.
Risk number 2: Runny eyes and nose
As simple as it sounds, smoke is irritating. The dog’s nose and eyes are the first to experience the irritating effect. Runny nose and eyes are not a huge issue as they are transient and will resolve as soon as the trigger or irritant is eliminated. However, they are annoying and uncomfortable. Eye irritation is more serious than nose irritation, especially for dogs with pre-existing eye problems. The main sign of nose irritation is sneezing.
Risk number 3: Lung irritation
The smoke produced from the burning sage can accumulate and eventually reach toxic levels. The toxic smoke levels are irritating and put extra pressure on the lungs. This issue is particularly problematic for dogs with certain pre-existing conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, etc. In such cases, the lung irritation may culminate in respiratory issues and difficulty breathing. The severity of the respiratory issues varies from mild to serious.
Risk number 4: Ear infections
Ear infections are not the most common side effect of burning sage in front of dogs but are definitely possible. Namely, smoke tends to accumulate in the dog’s ear canals and block the normal airflow. Inadequate ear canal airflow is one of the most common underlying reasons for ear infections. This is particularly true for dogs with long droopy ears. Ear infections are not life-threatening health issues. However, they are tedious and require prompt and lengthy treatment.
Is White Sage Safe for Dogs?
White sage (Salvia apiana) belongs to the same family as the regular sage, thus having the same effects. Namely, white sage is safe for dogs for consumption and topical use on wounds and certain skin lesions. However, exposure to burning white sage is harmful.
Can I Burn Sage if I Have a Pet?
Yes, you can definitely burn sage – you just need to be mindful and take some precautionary measures. For example, you should make sure your dog is comfortable in a separate room while you are burning sage to clean the space.
Namely, do not try to burn sage in all the house at once – work room by room so your dog can have where to spend time after the smoke is gone. Also, once the burning part is finished, you need to keep the windows open until the air clears.
Do not forget that the potential hazards of burning sage for dogs can harm people as well, especially kids. Always let the room ventilate before spending time in it after the burning sage ritual.
Summing Up: Burning Sage for Dogs
Adding a leaf of sage to your dog’s food bowl is safe and beneficial. However, burning dried sage leaves in front of your dog is harmful. Dogs are more sensitive to smoke than people, and exposure to burning sage is a recipe for disaster.
If you are planning to burn sage, you need to be cautious and ensure your dog does not get in contact with the harmful smoke. Just because you are a pet parent does not mean you need to give up on your burning sage rituals – you just have to be mindful.