Can You Wear Perfume Around Guinea Pigs

Can You Wear Perfume Around Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs make some of the best pets, especially if you can’t invest the time and money necessary for bigger pets like dogs. They are social and cuddly, but before owning one you have to know several things, like whether you can wear perfume around it.

It’s not recommended to wear perfume around guinea pigs, because most perfumes, fragrances, and other scented products contain parabens, phenols, and phthalates. They’re all toxic to humans, but because of the relatively small amounts used are safe for us. However, as guinea pigs are much smaller, and that makes perfume toxic to them.

There are many more chemicals, other than ones in perfumes, that can be toxic to guinea pigs. If you want to know how to prevent damaging the health of your guinea pig, we recommend you read through this article. We’ll cover everything you need to know about scented products when owning a guinea pig, from what smells you should avoid to products we recommend buying.

Why Can’t You Wear Perfume Around Guinea Pigs

As we’ve mentioned, most perfumes contain parabens, phenols, and phthalates, which are also toxic to humans. However, fragrances only contain small amounts that aren’t dangerous to us. The thing is that guinea pigs are much smaller than humans, and that’s why even small amounts of toxins that aren’t dangerous to us can be detrimental to their health.

Most websites point out that the reason you shouldn’t be wearing perfume around cavies is that their sense of smell is that much better than ours. While it’s true that guinea pigs have an extraordinary sense of smell, it has nothing to do with perfume causing health problems to them.

When most living things smell something, it’s because of inhaled small particles dissolving in the mucous membrane and binding to olfactory receptors. However, the health effects of certain smells have nothing to do with the sense of smell, because even in the absence of olfactory receptors, organisms intake the particles.

Just for a quick example, arsenic is an incredibly potent toxic, but it has no smell. So the real reason why guinea pigs can be harmed by perfume is that perfumes contain toxins in amounts that are relatively safe for humans, but are dangerous to guinea pigs because they on average weigh 2 pounds or 100 times less than an average American male.

If perfumes contained 100 times more phthalates, phenols, and parabens than they do now, humans would also experience many negative health effects from using them. Knowing this, let’s take a look at other smells and products that are dangerous to guinea pigs.

Things You Shouldn’t Use Around Guinea Pigs

You should be very mindful of the scented products you’re using when owning a guinea pig. It’s recommended to not use the following things in the same room as your guinea pig:

Air Fresheners

While air fresheners are very convenient for masking unpleasant odors, they can be harmful to your guinea pig. It’s fine to use in other rooms where you don’t bring your guinea pig, but avoid spraying fresheners around your pet.


Regardless of owning a guinea pig, you should avoid using paraffin candles, because it creates a black smoke called soot when burning, which is toxic to most living things.

Additionally, paraffin candles usually contain scents from essential oils, meaning phenols. If you can’t imagine your life without candles, look into those made of soy wax or beeswax. 

Such candles are natural and produce less soot than their paraffin counterparts. However, they might contain essential oils for scent, so make sure to read the ingredient list before buying.

Onions and Garlic

They contain compounds that are toxic to guinea pigs. While it’s unlikely to harm your pet if you’re cutting them up for dinner, it’s better not to risk it. In fact, all bulb vegetables are toxic to guinea pigs because they contain thiosulfate.

So make sure to not allow your pet to get in contact with onions, garlic, potatoes, chives, leek, and shallots.

Essential Oils

While aromatherapy believers swear by the positive health effects of essential oils, you should refrain from using them because they contain phenols, which are toxic to guinea pigs. 

Here’s a chart with some essential oils and their phenol count:

Essential OilPhenol %

Cleaners and Detergents

Most cleaning supplies contain fragrances that are toxic to guinea pigs. Make sure you choose cleaning supplies made of natural ingredients that aren’t posing risk to your guinea pig. Merely handling your guinea pig while you’re wearing a shirt that was cleaned with a fragrant detergent could negatively impact its health.

Smoke and Kitchen Fumes

We hope that you aren’t smoking inside your room, but if you do, you should know that cigarette smoke is toxic to guinea pigs and will put their health in danger. However, even kitchen fumes can hurt the respiratory system of your beloved pet.

If you’re living in a studio apartment, make sure to open your windows when cooking, so your apartment is well ventilated and cooking fumes aren’t likely to reach your guinea pig.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

(Q): Can You Wear Perfume Around Cats?

(A): You shouldn’t wear perfume around cats, because their livers can’t metabolize phenols, which are commonly found ingredients in many perfumes. It also means that essential oils are toxic to cats, so be aware of your use of most scented products.

(Q): How Long Guinea Pigs Live?

(A): On average, most guinea pigs live from 5 to 8 years. It’s much longer than other small rodents that are kept as pets, like hamsters or rats. If you want to give your guinea pig the best chances of living the longest life it can, refrain from using perfume or other scented products around them.

Final Words

We hope this article helped you understand what risks come from wearing perfume around guinea pigs. These little pets are just adorable, so if you’ve decided to own one, understand that your perfume habits will have to change.

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