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Are Air Purifiers Safe for Pets?

Last updated January 23, 2023

This post may contain affiliate links.

Author
Author avatar Danny Ashton

Danny as been writing about air purifiers for 10+ years. He is a major fan of home technology, which makes him the perfect person to test and evaluate products for HouseFresh

Our verdict:

Yes, most air purifiers are safe for pets, but you will need to consider certain aspects! A quiet, stable air purifier that doesn’t release dangerous toxins is the best choice for you and your pets. Indoor air pollution is a valid concern and our pets have similar needs to ours in terms of air quality. We can improve our and our pets’ health by improving the air quality in our homes.

Many of us are justifiably concerned with the air quality, particularly when we have children or pets. You may have sensitivities to pet dander, worry about pet odor, or be concerned about both you and your pets breathing in pollutants in your home. However, it’s just as essential to keep our furry friends’ safety and comfort in mind when purchasing an air purifier.

Our pets can’t tell us when something is distressing them, so doing our research on their behalf is vital. Pet owners may worry an air purifier will hurt their pets, but you’ll be happy to learn these machines are usually safe.

Let’s find out why. 

Your Pet Is Physically Safe Around An Air Purifier

Most air purifiers on the market have passed safety checks and will be suitable for homes with pets as they’ve been designed with children in mind. 

However, owners of large dogs that like to destroy electronics must use the same precautions for other electrical devices or appliances. This applies to animals like rodents as well, as they tend to enjoy chewing through power cables or otherwise can get tangled up in cords. 

How to Ensure Your Air Purifier Won’t Damage The Health Of Your Pet

An air purifier shouldn’t damage the health of your pet. Increased air quality means only good things for your pet! Here are three things to consider to ensure your pet’s health and safety are maintained:

1. Place the purifier where there’s little risk of the machine getting knocked over or falling on your pet
You may choose a small desktop or wall-mounted unit rather than a tall standing machine. 

2. The noise of an air purifier varies dramatically between units
Units emitting noise at 40dB easily fades into the background, like the hum of a refrigerator or a computer. Others can be as loud as 70dB, which is about the volume of a vacuum cleaner in a power setting! This level can be distressing to pets (and also irritating for humans).

💡 Air purifier manufacturers should provide information on how loud their products are while in operation. 

3. With pets, you’ll want an air purifier that picks up both large and small particles
A HEPA filter is the best way to do this. However, a pre-filter is also a lifesaver if you have a pet that sheds, as it stops fur from blocking up the machine. You can regularly remove it and clean or wash out the hair, which keeps your air purifier working efficiently. 

Scientific Reasons Why An Air Purifier Will Help You AND Your Pet

Good quality air benefits not only us but our pets as well. Our indoor pets spend most of their time in our homes, but many of us are rapidly becoming “indoor humans”. 

In recent years, more of us have been working remotely and spending most of our days in our homes. Air quality in home offices is often worse than in workplace offices, with this pilot study on indoor air quality and health outcomes in employees working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic showing that home offices often have unacceptable levels of air pollution. 

These pollutants are often high in homes due to the microparticles emitted by:

And when it comes to the consequences that poor air quality has on our health and that of our loved ones, the stats can get a little scary:

Several studies have found these pollutants also harm our pets as well:

Air purifiers reduce both the short-term and long-term effects of pollutants in the home, and here is why:

Two Dangerous Air Purifiers to Avoid

While most air purifiers are safe for your family and pets, there are two types you should avoid.

Avoid Ozone Generators

While ozone generators eliminate odors and pollutants in the house, they also create ozone, which is potent and reactive at high levels. Ozone is like bleach for the air. It cleans the air of contaminants, but the chemical is harmful to humans and animals. 

It decreases lung function, irritates the throat, causes chest pain and shortness of breath, and leads to respiratory issues. The health impacts grow more significant the longer the exposure and the greater the concentration. 

Avoid Ionic Air Purifiers

Ionizers are dangerous to humans and pets and increase harmful chemicals in our air. They emit ions into the air, which attach to pollutants. This weighs down the pollutant and pulls it down from the air. 

Other chemicals are created as a by-product and can cause cancer in humans and animals. These include oxygenated volatile organic compounds such as acetones and ethanols and other substances common in harsh products like paints, aerosols and pesticides. 

Exposure to these chemicals causes health issues related to the eyes, nose, throat, kidneys, liver and central nervous system. While the research into the impacts of ionizers is new, the risks aren’t worth it when other options filter the air without releasing chemicals.

What to Look For in an Air Purifier For a Home With Pets?

There are seven things to look for in an air purifier if you share your home with pets

1. HEPA Filter 

It’s essential to ensure the air purifier you purchase contains a HEPA filter.  HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. The filter is designed to eliminate 99.97% of pollutants, including particles as small as 0.3 microns. This is an essential feature for homes with animals, particularly birds, as many of the pollutants that come from our pets are ultrafine particles. It also helps to prevent our pets from breathing in small contaminants like mold and dust. 

2. Pre-Filter

A pre-filter is a must for owners with pets that shed. The fur may block the machine, preventing it from working correctly. The pre-filter may be a fabric outside the unit, covering the vents. This makes it easy to see when pet fur is collecting. A removable, washable pre-filter allows you to manage your pet’s hair easily, as you can either vacuum, rinse, or use a lint roller on the filter.

3. Activated Carbon

Activated carbon is the third feature you should look for in your air purifier. It helps to eliminate odors, the cause of our pets.If you are main concern is the smell of your pets, then be sure to look at which air purifier for pet odor we think is best based on our internal air cleaning performance testing. Activated charcoal works with the filter to pick up gaseous pollutants that can pass through a HEPA filter.  Picking an air purifier with activated carbon makes us confident that our house always smells fresh! Look at this guide for the best options for air purifiers for pet odors. 

4. Size of the Unit

The size and placement of the unit is a consideration for parents of large or energetic dogs that may run around the house and knock the machine over. Air purifiers come in many models, from small units that sit on top of a desk to large free-standing appliances. With a pet, the best solution may be a wall-mounted option. As this requires installation, a compact desktop unit would be a good, less labor-intensive choice.  

5. Quiet Machine

You’ll want a machine that runs quietly for the mental well-being of your animal. They should make no more than a low-level white noise. Look for models with an average noise level of around 40dB. Some units may have a sleep mode, but one that runs quietly in its main setting is best. 

6. Button Lock

Some units can lock the unit’s push buttons if you have a pet that likes to rub against things. This stops your pet from accidentally pressing buttons that may change its settings or switch it off! 

7. Placement

Be sure to place your air purifier in the room or rooms you and your pet spend the most time. It’s good to have a unit for your bedroom so the air you breathe when you sleep is clean and safe. It’s also a good idea to occasionally close a room up and allow the air purifier to run in a closed space. This allows it to focus on the pollutants in that room without new air constantly entering. 

The Top 3 Air Purifiers For Pets

We tested 40 air purifiers in 2022 and using these data points, we can recommend what we believe are the best units for pets as of November 2022. Our shortlist is made up of air purifiers containing both HEPA and activated carbon filters.

Best Overall
Best Budget Option
Best for Large Spaces
Style
Alen BreatheSmart 75i Air Purifiers for Bedrooms, Living Room, Kitchen, Pure HEPA Air Filter, Smart Air Cleaner to Remove Pollen, Dust, Dander, Pet Air, Mold, Quiet Air Flow for Large Rooms, 1300 SqFt
Air Purifiers for Home Large Room, H13 True HEPA Filter for Large Room Cover 1500 ft², Air Cleaner 3 Speeds, Air Quality Monitor Sensor, Child Lock, Sleep Mode, CADR 420 m³/h, Remove 99.97% Pollutants
LEVOIT Air Purifiers for Home Large Room, Covers up to 3175 Sq. Ft, Smart WiFi and PM2.5 Monitor, H13 True HEPA Filter Removes 99.97% of Particles, Pet Allergies, Smoke, Dust, Auto Mode, Alexa Control
Pros
A powerful unit that has a large activated carbon for pet odors and has great efficiency. The lifetime warranty is the cherry on top and that is why the Alen 75i is our top air purifier for pets.
Hard to beat this budget option for those with pets. It has H13 HEPA, activated carbon and a price currently the best on the market.
Currently, our best performer at removing pollutants from our test room as it cleaned it in 15 minutes.
Cons
High initial price and filter costs. The ionizer function might not be good for bird owners, but it’s optional.
It is hard to find this unit on Amazon. You will need more than one for bigger spaces.
The large unit takes up a lot of space. The filter has less carbon than the IQAir model.
CADR
347 CFM / 589m³/h
226 CFM / 384 m³/h
410 CFM / 697 m³/h
Filter Technology
B7-MP-Pet/Odor
Air inlet grille, washable pre-filter and 3-stage H13 true HEPA filter
H13 True HEPA filter and integrated activated charcoal filter
Recommended Room Size
up to 1,300 ft²
322 ft²
635 ft² to 1,588 ft²
Weight
12.2 kg / 27 lbs
8.6 kg / 19 lbs
6.2 kg / 13.7 lbs
Price
$741.99
Price not available
$299.99
Best Overall
Model
Style
Alen BreatheSmart 75i Air Purifiers for Bedrooms, Living Room, Kitchen, Pure HEPA Air Filter, Smart Air Cleaner to Remove Pollen, Dust, Dander, Pet Air, Mold, Quiet Air Flow for Large Rooms, 1300 SqFt
Pros
A powerful unit that has a large activated carbon for pet odors and has great efficiency. The lifetime warranty is the cherry on top and that is why the Alen 75i is our top air purifier for pets.
Cons
High initial price and filter costs. The ionizer function might not be good for bird owners, but it’s optional.
CADR
347 CFM / 589m³/h
Filter Technology
B7-MP-Pet/Odor
Recommended Room Size
up to 1,300 ft²
Weight
12.2 kg / 27 lbs
Price
$741.99
Best Budget Option
Style
Air Purifiers for Home Large Room, H13 True HEPA Filter for Large Room Cover 1500 ft², Air Cleaner 3 Speeds, Air Quality Monitor Sensor, Child Lock, Sleep Mode, CADR 420 m³/h, Remove 99.97% Pollutants
Pros
Hard to beat this budget option for those with pets. It has H13 HEPA, activated carbon and a price currently the best on the market.
Cons
It is hard to find this unit on Amazon. You will need more than one for bigger spaces.
CADR
226 CFM / 384 m³/h
Filter Technology
Air inlet grille, washable pre-filter and 3-stage H13 true HEPA filter
Recommended Room Size
322 ft²
Weight
8.6 kg / 19 lbs
Price
Price not available
Best for Large Spaces
Style
LEVOIT Air Purifiers for Home Large Room, Covers up to 3175 Sq. Ft, Smart WiFi and PM2.5 Monitor, H13 True HEPA Filter Removes 99.97% of Particles, Pet Allergies, Smoke, Dust, Auto Mode, Alexa Control
Pros
Currently, our best performer at removing pollutants from our test room as it cleaned it in 15 minutes.
Cons
The large unit takes up a lot of space. The filter has less carbon than the IQAir model.
CADR
410 CFM / 697 m³/h
Filter Technology
H13 True HEPA filter and integrated activated charcoal filter
Recommended Room Size
635 ft² to 1,588 ft²
Weight
6.2 kg / 13.7 lbs
Price
$299.99

Final Thoughts

Getting an air purifier is an excellent option for pet owners who want to eliminate dander, fur and odors our pets leave behind. While there are certain factors to consider when selecting an air purifier, most options are going to be both safe and beneficial for your pet’s health.

For optimal health and safety for your furry friends, look for a HEPA-filtered, wall-mounted model that uses activated carbon and creates ambient noise of no greater than 40dB when running. 

Sources

Ashton, D. (2022). 53 Indoor Air Quality Statistics. housefresh.com

MDPI Open Access Journals. (2021). Indoor Air Quality and Health Outcomes in Employees Working from Home during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Pilot Study. mdpi.com 

National Library of Medicine. (2008). Air pollution, cognitive deficits and brain abnormalities: a pilot study with children and dogs. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

National Library of Medicine. (2018). Association between indoor air pollution and respiratory disease in companion dogs and cats. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

National Library of Medicine. (2020). Indoor Air Pollution, Related Human Diseases, and Recent Trends in the Control and Improvement of Indoor Air Quality. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

National Library of Medicine. (2010). Measurement of Ultrafine Particles and Other Air Pollutants Emitted by Cooking Activities. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Science X. (2021). Study uncovers safety concerns with ionic air purifiers. phys.org

United States Environmental Protection Agency. Ozone Generators that are Sold as Air Cleaners. epa.gov

United States Environmental Protection Agency. What is a HEPA filter? epa.gov

University of Massachusetts Amherst. Indoor Particulate Matter. ehs.umass.edu

Last update on 2023-02-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API