Are Air Purifiers Safe for Pets? (Dogs, Cats, Birds, etc.)

Are air purifiers safe for pets? 4 months ago, my girlfriend got a puppy. Naturally, I have to take care of her.

However, as an HVAC blogger, I have all kinds of devices at home, including an air purifier.

So, how did things turn out?

Did the dog survive the air purifier? (… joking)

In this article, I am going to guide you through using air purifiers with pets.

After reading this, you’ll know exactly:

  • whether you can use an air purifier in the presence of a pet
  • which air purifiers you can use with a pet and which you can’t (yes, there are a couple of air purifiers that have negative health impacts)
  • my personal pet-safe air purifier recommendation
  • how to pet-proof your air purifier
  • how to air-purifier-proof your pet

Quick answer: Yes, air purifiers are generally safe for pets. However, ensure you’re using a HEPA air purifier. Never use an ionizing air purifier or an ozone generator. These purifiers create unhealthy ozone and can sicken your pet.

First of all, let’s have a list at a list of pets and whether you can use an air purifier with them:

Different pets and whether air purifiers are safe for them

PetAre Air Purifiers Safe for this Pet?
Grown dogsGenerally safe, but avoid ozone-producing purifiers.
PuppiesSafe, but limit access to the purifier’s power cord
CatsGenerally safe, but avoid ozone-producing purifiers. Place the air purifier on a low surface (since cats like to climb and tip-over things)
BirdsUse with caution. Birds have sensitive respiratory systems. Avoid ozone and ensure good ventilation.
Fish (in an aquarium)Generally safe. Ensure the purifier’s airflow doesn’t disturb the water’s surface tension or produce ozone.
Hamsters/GerbilsGenerally safe, but ensure proper ventilation and avoid ozone-producing purifiers.
Guinea PigsGenerally safe, but ensure proper ventilation and avoid ozone-producing purifiers.
RabbitsGenerally safe, but ensure proper ventilation and avoid ozone-producing purifiers.
Reptiles (lizards, snakes, etc.)Generally safe. Ensure proper ventilation and avoid direct airflow that could affect the habitat’s temperature.
Amphibians (frogs, newts, etc.)Generally safe. Ensure the purifier doesn’t alter the habitat’s humidity or produce ozone.
Tarantulas/InsectsLimited data. Keep air purifiers at a distance and ensure no strong drafts.

Which air purifiers you can use with a pet and which you can’t use

Air purifiers are generally safe for pets as long as they only remove particles from the air.

Less pollution directly leads to better health (source), for humans and for pets. And higher pollution levels do the opposite: They have a negative health impact.

So, using an air purifier is generally a good idea.


A certain type of air purifier, a so-called ionizer, does the exact opposite. Even though ionizers are apparently marketed as air purifiers, they can even increase air pollution levels according to a study from H. F. Hubbard from the University of Texas (source).

Also, ionizers indirectly generate ozone, a gas that increases the chances of lung diseases, sore throats, coughing, and asthma attacks (source).

If ionizers are bad for you, they can’t be healthy for your (much more sensitive) pet.


Don’t get an ionizing air purifier.

Even worse are so-called ozone generators, which are normally used to neutralize odors in the absence of humans. But some people run them at home, which is not a good idea.

Avoid ionizers and ozone generators at all costs.

My personal pet-safe air purifier recommendation

Instead, I recommend getting a regular air purifier that does not blast electric charges or ozone in the air. Any regular HEPA filter air purifier will do.

HEPA filter air purifiers merely blow indoor air through a filter, which picks up particles. HEPA filters cause zero indoor emissions.

My favorite HEPA air purifier is this Levoit Core 300 air purifier (click here to see it on amazon)

It is pet-safe and, due to its round design, has no sharp corners.

But you don’t have to follow my recommendation. Get any air purifier you like. As long as you can spot the word HEPA and not the word “ionizer”, or “ozone” on the sales page, you are safe.

Of course, you can also go and pick up an air purifier at a local hardware store.

Special air purifier recommendation for birds

The Levoit Core 300 (and other air purifiers in the Core series) blow air upwards, which may confuse your birds.

In nature, vertical airflows actually mimic the air lifting right before a thunderstorm.

Birds are weather-sensitive and I think it’s not wise to create pre-thunderstorm conditions indoors.

So, for birds, I recommend getting an air purifier with a vertical airflow:

How different pets react to air purifiers (and what to consider for safety)

Grown Dogs

Depending on the temperament of your dog, he may care or not care about the air purifier. Usually, there are absolutely no issues running an air purifier near a grown dog.

If your dog finds the fan noise annoying, he will leave the room. Usually, it’s safe to just try it out.


While air purifiers are safe for young pups, it’s essential to protect those curious little ones from potential chewing hazards like power cords.

Even though air purifiers consume very little power, the power cord will carry your wall outlet’s voltage (in the US, that’s 120V), which is potentially life-threatening to a puppy.

So, either run your air purifier in a separate room or place your air purifier on an elevated surface your puppy can’t reach and use an unreachable wall outlet.


Cats will benefit from an air purifier, but remember they’re climbers!

Position your air purifier on a low surface to prevent air purifier fall damage, and, of course, always avoid ozone-producing models.


Our avian companions have particularly sensitive respiratory systems.

According to the study  “The Canary in the Coal Mine: The Sensitivity of Avian Species to Environmental Contaminants” (source), birds can be especially susceptible to pollutants.

So, air purifiers will greatly enhance your bird’s quality of life. After all, in nature, birds are always able to breathe fresh air flying at great heights.

Ensure your air purifier used is ozone-free.

In a bird forum, one member writes:

“I have a Germ Guardian [..] and two Levoit H13 (one small for the bird room with night cage and the other large for the living room with day bird cage) [..] The Levoits are great and also affordable. I bought these separately at different times for various rooms and would probably pick a higher-end full-house one if I could and had it to do all over again.”


The pet-safe full-house air purifier she refers to is probably the Levoit EverestAir (click to see it on amazon).

air purifier bird
This parrot enjoys his Levoit Core air purifier!

Fish (in an aquarium)

Using an air purifier near your aquarium is generally safe.

However, ensure the purifier’s airflow doesn’t disturb the water surface. Also, ensure that your air purifier doesn’t emit ozone, since water dissolves ozone.


These little rodents will appreciate clean air. When using an air purifier, make sure the space remains well-ventilated and that the device doesn’t emit ozone.

Guinea Pigs

Just like hamsters, guinea pigs thrive in clean, well-ventilated spaces. Use ozone-free air purifiers to keep them comfortable.


Your hopping friend prefers a clean environment. An air purifier can help, but always maintain proper ventilation and avoid those producing ozone.

Reptiles (lizards, snakes, etc.)

Reptiles also benefit from purified air. But you do as well:

“I use an air purifier in his room for snakes/geckos, you can still smell fresh poops when they have just been done but it definitely keeps general smells down”

JamesJ from reptileforums

However, be cautious about the purifier’s airflow, ensuring it doesn’t alter their habitat’s crucial temperature.

Air purifiers normally don’t change temperature. But it could impact terrarium temperature by carrying heat away from it.

Amphibians (frogs, newts, etc.)

Keeping the air clean for your amphibians is a great idea, but be cautious. Ensure the purifier doesn’t mess with the humidity they love, and as always, avoid ozone.


The data is a bit sparse when it comes to our many-legged friends. I found one guy in a Tarantula forum, ozone doesn’t affect Tarantulas.

But still, it does affect you. Another tarantula guy writes:

“I keep a HEPA filter running at all times in my spider room, but it’s not one of the ionic ones. It’s nice to keep the air circulating, and the filters are always nasty when I change them.”


Why you should get an air purifier as a pet owner

After digging through dozens of studies and through various pet forums, I found one common theme:

Everybody recommends using air purifiers, regardless of which pet you have at home.

Air purifiers do not only remove potentially harmful viruses and bacteria from the air.

As a pet owner, your immune system is probably better than average anyways, so why would you care?

The biggest advantage to using an air purifier is that air purifiers reduce pet smells.

Air purifiers clear the air and make it a lot more pleasant for you to live together with your pets.

And also, guests entering your home will not notice pet smells as much.

How to pet-proof your air purifier

Here are a couple of things to do to make your air purifier 100% pet-proof.

  • Positioning is Key: Place your air purifier in an area where it’s less likely to be bumped into or knocked over. This not only protects the machine but also ensures that your pet won’t be harmed if they’re too curious. For cats, consider placing the purifier on a sturdy, low table to reduce the chances of them knocking it over. For dogs, especially those with waggy tails, placing the purifier in a corner or against a wall may be beneficial.
  • Conceal or Protect Power Cords: Many pets, especially young ones, have an affinity for chewing. Use protective sheaths or cord concealers to protect cords from curious mouths.
  • Use Purifiers with Grilles or Mesh: If you have a pet that’s intrigued by moving parts, ensure that your air purifier has a grille or mesh that prevents paws or beaks from reaching the fan (such as the ones recommended earlier).
  • Regular Maintenance: Pet hair and dander can accumulate in the filters more rapidly than you’d expect. Regular cleaning and replacement of filters ensure efficient operation and reduces any potential hazards from clogged filters.
  • Stable Base: Some purifiers come with a wider base or anti-tip features. This is especially handy if you have larger pets or active pets that might knock things over during play.
  • Noise Level: Some pets are sensitive to noise. Start the purifier on the lowest setting and observe your pet’s reaction before increasing the fan speed.

How to air-purifier-proof your pet

When you first introduce your air purifier into your pet’s space, be it a room your dog or cat spends a lot of time in, or an actual bird’s room dedicated to birds only, your pets will see the air purifier as an unknown object.

Here’s how to handle the new situation:

  • Slow Introduction: When introducing the air purifier, allow your pet to sniff around it when it’s turned off. Let them get used to its presence in their space before you switch it on.
  • Associate with Positive Things: Whenever you turn on the purifier, give your pet a treat or play with them nearby. This helps them associate the sound and presence of the purifier with positive experiences.
  • Monitor First Interactions: Watch how your pet interacts with the purifier the first few times. This helps in identifying if there are parts of the purifier that are particularly intriguing or bothersome for them.
  • Training: For pets like dogs or parrots that can be trained, use commands like ‘no’, ‘leave it’, or ‘stay away’ if they get too curious about the purifier.
  • Create a Barrier: If your pet remains overly curious, consider using a pet gate or pen to create a small barrier around the air purifier.
  • Distraction: If your pet is overly focused on the air purifier, use toys or treats to distract them and redirect their attention.


All HEPA filter air purifiers are safe for pets. For dogs, cats, and most other pets, any HEPA air purifier works. For birds, I recommend getting an air purifier that creates vertical airflow.

The most important learning from this post:

  • Always use HEPA filter air purifiers – never use ionizers
  • Pet-proof your air purifier by placing it out of reach and running it on low noise levels
  • Air purifier-proof your pet through slow introduction, low fan speeds, and treats

Relevant research:

Indoor air pollution:

  • “Respiratory health effects of indoor air pollution” (source)
  • “Association between indoor air pollution and respiratory disease in companion dogs and cats” (source)

Ozone-generating air purifiers:

  • “Effects of an ozone-generating air purifier on indoor secondary particles in three residential dwellings” (source)


  • “Air pollution impacts on avian species via inhalation exposure and associated outcomes” (source)
  • “The Canary in the Coal Mine: The Sensitivity of Avian Species to Environmental Contaminants” (source)