Is Secondhand Smoke Dangerous For Your Pet?
November 20 is National Stop Smoking Day. We have all heard about the detrimental effects of second hand smoke on people. But, have you taken the time to think about its effects on our pets?
Are you a smoker? Did you know that second hand smoke can affect not only you, your family, but your pets as well. Second-hand smoke isn’t just dangerous for people…it’s also dangerous for pets. Living in a house with a smoker puts dogs, cats, and especially birds at greater risk of many health problems. Dogs exposed to second-hand smoke have more eye infections, allergies, and respiratory issues including lung cancer.
Cats will ingest the tar, smoke, and carcinogens that cigarettes give off and land on all surfaces of the house including their hair coats. Daily grooming over many years can cause oral carcinomas and lymphoma similar to people that chew tobacco.
Secondhand smoke has been associated with oral cancer and lymphoma in cats, lung and nasal cancer in dogs, as well as lung cancer in birds.
Secondhand smoke may cause respiratory illnesses in dogs, including chronic asthma and bronchitis. Dog skin conditions are exacerbated by exposure to second and thirdhand smoke.
Dogs will also develop the asthma-like symptoms of wheezing, coughing, and/or hyperventilation from breathing second hand smoke. However, they do not usually develop the mouth problems seen in cats.
Dogs are more likely to develop nasal carcinomas or primary lung cancer. Dogs breathe in the smoke more through their nose, where the nasal turbinates grab the tar and carcinogens before the smoke makes it to the lungs. These carcinogens can develop into nasal tumors later in life.
Like humans, cats and dogs can develop Nicotine addiction from eating cigarette butts or Nicotine patches (new or used). Nicotine by itself is very toxic and only takes 20-100mg to be lethal for a cat or dog. One cigarette may have as much as 2mg of Nicotine with the cigarette butt containing 1mg of Nicotine, where as Nicotine patches may have up to 15mg of Nicotine.
Nicotine will cause the stimulation of the Sympathetic Nervous System causing initial signs of excitation such as a racing heart and fast breathing. At very toxic levels, Nicotine will cause seizures, hallucinations or even death. If you see that your pet has eaten any Nicotine patches or an ashtray of cigarette butts please call your veterinarian immediately!
While there have been no studies to suggest that fumes from electronic cigarettes pose any danger to pets, there is a risk of poisoning if they are ingested. The Veterinary Poisons Information Service has seen an increase in cases of electronic cigarette poisoning over the past few years, with 113 reported in 2016. The real figure is likely to be far higher. So, while electronic cigarettes are a better alternative to harmful tobacco smoke, be sure to keep them well out of the reach of pets.
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