Great Alternative to Sage-Smudging For Dogs

Do you like to burn sage to make your home feel better? But does it hurt your dog and other pets? It’s a question I’ve asked myself and went digging for answers for my dog, Henry. While there are many times that it may be nice to “clear” or “reset” energy, as responsible pet parents, we also want to protect our fur kids. With this in mind, today, let’s dig into and find an alternative to sage and smudging that is dog-friendly.

Spoiler alert: There’s a FREE alternative included in this article! 

a cute corgi sleeps through a house saging know his dog parents have a safe dog friendly alternative to sage
Budget Tip:

Sage smudging is a relatively budget-friendly way to clear energy. The main goal is to have a positive outcome without harming your pets. You can do that easily by relocating them or by using liquid sage (you can download a free copy below).

*Update: November 5, 2023

Benefits of sage smudging your home

Additionally, a study from 2016 found that a compound in sage, salvia, could have cognitive protective and enhancement abilities in patience with Alzheimer’s and dementia. However, more research is needed in this area to know for certain if sage or salvia is a viable tool in fighting these diseases. 

What does it mean to smudge your home?

Sage smudging a home or place is a sacred ritual that dates back to 4500 BC that many do to help cleanse the space or promote good energy. Sage, contains a compound even called “salvia”, which in Latin means to heal. But does the act of sage smudging harm our dogs and pets? Are there alternatives to the traditional smoking of sage that will do essentially the same thing? In this article, I will explore these questions and more.

Why is my dog scared of sage?

If you are burning sage, it could simply be that your dog is scared of the smoke or flame. My dog, Henry gets scared when I burn sage. However, it could also be the very strong smell that is produced. Or a combination of the two. Either way, when your dog is scared, be respectful and recognize that means you need to do something different. That is what I did for Henry.

Can dogs smell sage?

Absolutely! If you can smell the burning of sage (even if you can’t) your dog can smell it.

Is burning sage toxic to dogs?

There’s no evidence that burning sage is toxic to dogs. However, if you’re like me, you want to err on the side of caution. Thus, if your dog is scared of burning sage or other items, then, of course, avoid it around your dog.

NOTE: Henry is allergic to sage. Therefore, the burning of sage may also activate his allergies. Your dog might be the same.

Does burning sage hurt dogs? 

While the benefits of sage smudging are fairly remarkable, let’s make sure safe it’s safe for our dogs and pets. 

First, as already mentioned, let’s keep in mind that a dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times stronger than its human parents. So, if the scent of burning sage is strong to us, it will be much stronger to a dog. 

Second, we need to know if sage or the burning of sage is toxic to a dog. Sage itself is not considered a toxic herb for dogs. Although, the ASCPA recommends only allowing your dog to eat 1-2 leaves of sage. 

Next, is burning or smudging sage toxic to your dog? While there is no evidence to support that it’s toxic, I would recommend caution. Some people do smudge their pets and themselves. However, since dogs’ anatomies are much different than humans it’s difficult to say if it’s beneficial or harmful. There have not been any studies of significance on the subject. 

Finally, many dogs are scared of fire or things that appear to be smoking. My rescue dog, Henry, doesn’t like the sight of burning sage, even from a great distance. It scares him. 

What can you do to protect your dog, yet still get the benefits of sage smudging?

  • Relocate your dog at a family or friend’s home while you sage until the smell dissipates.
  • Liquid sage and spray smudge your home instead of lighting sage. The smell is nowhere near as intense and there is no burning required. Henry likes to help with this clearing.
  • Different techniques, such as tingsha bells. While you won’t receive the benefits of sage, the ringing of tingsha bells is said to clear negative energy and reduce stress. Some people even prefer ringing tingsha bells over burning sage to smudge. I’ve used tingsha bells many times very successfully. Henry even likes to help with this type of clearing. 

Make sure you avoid the 10 biggest backyard hazards for your dog. 

When should I smudge my home?

There are different times when people will feel it necessary to smudge their homes and bring in good energy. A few examples are: 

  • When moving into a new home.
  • Someone moves out, leaves, or passes away.
  • A major change in life, such as a new job, career change, big purchase, new partner, before a baby is born, a new rescue pet, etc. 
  • Or whenever you feel something just doesn’t “feel” right, then that is the PERFECT time to smudge your home.

In this article, I talk about how to adopt a dog from foster care. 

How do you smudge your home?

There are different ways to smudge your home. 

Before you begin Smudging

I like to open windows and doors to invite the negative energy to leave and invite positive energy to come.

If you are doing a traditional burning of sage to smudge, then gather these tools – sage, abalone shell (to hold the sage and capture the burnt embers), and a feather to fan (sage smudging kit) and spread the smoke around your space and into the corners. 

However, if you are smudging with liquid sage, then simply get your bottle of prepared spray.

Or, if you are using tingsha bells, you only need the bells. 

Set your intentions and blessing for smudging

The main thing to focus on is to set your intentions before your begin, such as, “I want to clear out negative energies and have calm, peaceful, positive energies in my home.” Or whatever you would like and suits your family. 

Then as I’m walking through my home smudging I will say a prayer or blessings, inviting in good, positive energy, and releasing the negative energy, something like “I release the negative that I don’t want or need and invite the good that I do want and need”

To begin smudging 

I like to begin at the back of my house. 

If doing traditional burning of sage, light it at a 45-degree angle and let it burn for about 20 seconds or so. Then gentle blow it out and you should see glowing orange embers begin to smoke and billow at the end of the sage. This is what you will use to smudge.

Slow and steady wins the smudging race

Slowly walk around your home or space. This isn’t a timed event and can take a fair amount of time.

For traditional sage burning, you will want to invite the smoke to all corners of the room with the feather. 

Liquid sage again, you will want to spray all corners of the room and invite the odor into all areas, you may use a feather if you like. 

For both traditional and liquid sage, pay close attention to corners, hallways, doorways, mirrors, windows, phones, closets, antiques, and technology (like computers, laptops, iPads, etc.)

Tingsha bells are even easier. Simply go to the middle of each room and ring the bells while saying your blessing. When the vibration has completely stopped you may ring it again, if you feel it is needed. Just like with traditional sage smudging works your way from the back of your home to the front. 

Conclude your smudging at the front door

With traditional burning sage smudging, once you reach your front door, smudge it, walk out it, continue saying your blessing, do one last waft of smoke to the heavens as an offering, and you’re done. 

Liquid sage spray your front door and say your blessing, walk out your door, spray once more to the heavens as an offering, and you’re done. 

Tingsha bells ring them in the room with your front door and say your blessing. Let the energy go out the door as the vibration stops. Then walk out the door say your blessing once more as a thanksgiving to the heavens and you’re done.

Caution with burning sage

To put out your burning sage when you have completed your smudging, simply find a fireproof surface, like a rock, and rub it hard on it until it is completely out. 

If you see embers drop during your smudging process, carefully pick them up and put them out. Your aim is for the embers to drop into the abalone shell. However, a wayward ember does happen on occasion. Be prepared to stomp it out or pick it up quickly. Honestly, chasing an ember is the only quick part of the sage smudging process. 

NOTE: If I’m smudging traditionally with fire, then I make sure that Henry is at doggie daycare or a friend’s home for several hours. Neither one he minds. However, if I’m using liquid sage or tingsha bells to smudge, then Henry, loves to walk with me. He seems to enjoy the process. Be mindful of your pup’s needs and comfort as you smudge. 

Not sure about how to find a doggie daycare for your pup so you can sage your home? In this article, I walk you through the process.

Do you want to bring your dog to work, but you don’t know the protocol? In this article, I tell you everything you need to know. Learn easy tips to bring your dog to work.

Is smudging for your family and dog?

Smudging has been done with different herbs since 4500 BC. During this time there is a multitude of ailments smudging has reportedly healed. I’d say if you’re not comfortable in your home for whatever reason, try smudging. As long as you’re mindful of your dog or other pets, you are fine, and you won’t do any harm. 

Related articles:

Summary of why your dog needs an alternative to sage smudging for your home

Smudging is a method of clearing and setting the energy for a home or place. When sage is used to smudge you can reduce stress, clean air, balances out ions, improve mind, body, and spirit. While there is no evidence that burning sage is harmful to dogs or pets, I always recommend caution and choosing a safe approach. Alternatives, include placing your dog in a different location while you burn sage and smudge, using liquid sage, and ringing tingsha bells. I have tried all three. They have all worked for my needs. 

a cute st. bernard relaxes knowing his dog parents has alternative to sage that's dog friendly

Have you smudged your home? Are you interested in smudging? Which process will you try? 

About Terri Rodefer

Terri Rodefer is the founder of Tail Wag Wisdom, a blog focused on affordable pet care. She likes to say helping pet parents afford and love their animals even more, makes her tail wag. As a lifelong lover of all animals with a background in economics, biology, and marketing, allows Terri to bring a unique spin to pet care. 

12 thoughts on “Great Alternative to Sage-Smudging For Dogs”

  1. What an interesting and informative post! Our dog’s senses are so keen, we are even careful with candles, etc. One of my Huskies was an epileptic, so I was always very careful even with certain essential oils as they could be triggers. I like the idea of the bells! And, of course, moving the pet to another room. Thanks for the info! Pinning to share!

    • Tingsha bells are pretty cool! I like the sounds and the vibrations. They seem to work very well for me. Henry seems to enjoy that one as well. I’m glad you found this article informative. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  2. Very interesting read! I have never smudged my home. I remember my parents doing that when I was young though. It is important that anything you bring into your home is not toxic or harmful to your pets in any way. Sometimes the things that pet can’t have are suprising. Cats can not be in a home with lilies of any kind.

    • You are exactly right with what is toxic for an animal. I tend to be on the overly cautious side simply because there’s not a ton of research on everything us humans use. Plus, the senses of our pets, dog in particular, are so much sharper than ours, it’s difficult to know the real affect on them. I know lilies are toxic to cats. It’s an easy one to forget because they are so pretty. However, if you have asthma you tend to avoid lilies. My mom had to avoid lilies because she had horrible asthma issues. She’d say something was causing her a breathing issue and I couldn’t smell anything. So, I know that things can affect us and our fur kids, without us knowing it. Thanks for your insights!

  3. Very interesting. I have never smudged my home either however, I hear it’s great for removing negative energy. I’m not aware of the health impact on the lungs however appreciate you mentioned these alternatives. I’m glad you’ve found they are working for you.

    • Smudging is great for clearing energy and bringing in more positive energy. Most people are fine with the scent of burning sage. My mom had asthma and it triggered her. Henry is afraid of burning sage, but he’s a rescue. However, I’ve never had him close when I was smudging. He really like liquid sage and tingsha bells. I glad you found this article informative. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on smudging.

  4. We strongly believe in the practice of smudging in our home. It’s something that we have done quite often. That being said, all pets (including the cats) are moved out of the house for this process. Often, we can just let them all hang out in the backyard (we have outdoor pens for the cats) but if the weather is questionable, too cold or too hot, they go to visit someone else until we’re done. Better safe than sorry, right?

    • That’s always my thought too – better safe than sorry. I’m glad to hear you’ve had success with smudging. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with smudging and how you keep your fur kids safe.

  5. Really interesting post and although I have not smudged this place I am wary of anything with a smell as Layla suffers from terrible allergies. Always good to learn though

  6. Very interesting. I had an animal communicator suggest I do sage smudging in my home. She felt there was some negative energy when she talked to my cats. I didn’t know what it involved until I read your post. I’ll look into this more.

    • I’m so glad you found this article helpful for your. Please let me know if you need any additional information. Good luck with sage and bringing in some good energy! 🙂


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