Many people today are beginning to realize the harmful effects of cigarettes. They are not only hazardous to the smoker, but also to those exposed to the second-hand smoke. However, many do not realize that second-hand smoke is also dangerous in regards to the nervous systems of their cats, dogs, and other household pets. This is because of the chemicals found in cigarette smoke, some that can also cause cancer. There are at least 4000 chemicals found in cigarette smoke, altogether causing numerous adverse health issues for both, people and animals.
Pets are our Family, Too
Many would agree that their pet is not just another animal. Our pets are like family. With household pets being regarded as such, it is hard to imagine doing something intentionally that would bring harm to them. You have to remember, dogs, cats, and other household pets should be regarded as infants in some ways. They do not understand that certain things will hurt them. This is true especially when it comes to consuming things like cigarette butts or empty cigarette packs. It is our job as pet owners to ensure their safety by creating a secure, and healthy environment.
Tobacco, Secondhand Smoke, and Pets – What Science Says?
Several recent studies show that tobacco and secondhand smoke, are not only hazardous to other people around you, but also to your beloved pets. In fact, secondhand smoke from tobacco cigarettes has been associated with different types of cancers in canines as well as felines. Moreover, several allergies and eye and skin diseases and respiratory problems in dogs, cats, and birds have been associated with secondhand smoke.
How does smoking affect pets?
Pets can be affected by a smoking habit in many ways, including by:
- inhaling secondhand smoke.
- eating cigarette cigar butts, which contain a huge amount of tar, nicotine, and other hazardous toxins.
- eating nicotine replacement patches or gums or drinking e-liquids.
- drinking water contaminated by cigar or cigarette butts.
- licking their fur that contains chemicals from cigarette smoke.
What are the side effects of secondhand smoke for pets?
Side effects of secondhand smoke for pets include:
- Excessive salivation
- Lymphoma in cats
- Lung cancer in dogs
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Abnormalities in respiratory system
- Asthmatic-like symptoms
- Cardiovascular abnormalities
- Obesity (especially in dogs)
- Reproductive disorders
- Excitement and increased heartbeat
- Tremors, twitching, or seizures
Second-Hand Smoke and Your Pet
Second-hand smoke is just as dangerous as direct smoking. If you smoke indoors, everyone is subject to the same dangers and consequences you face yourself. This includes children and pets. They cannot fend for themselves, so it is imperative that you make the right choices. Second-hand smoke can lead to lung damage, increased blood pressure, and heart disease. It is hard to know the exact dangers your pets face, but one thing you know for sure – they have lungs and a heart, too.
What are the dangers of secondhand smoke for dogs?
The most common issue dogs living in a smoking household face is cancer. Breeds with longer muzzles are more prone to sinus cancer, while breeds with shorter muzzles are more prone to lung cancer. Dogs that live with smokers are also comparatively more obese, and obesity can welcome a variety of other disorders.
What are the dangers of secondhand smoke for cats?
Cats can inhale secondhand smoke, but they can also lick up toxic substances accumulated on their fur from smoke when they groom themselves by licking their fur. This licking can result in ingestion of carcinogens and can cause mouth cancer. Cats living with smokers are at a higher risk of developing malignant lymphoma as well as squamous cell carcinoma.
What are the dangers of secondhand smoke for small animals?
Small animals such as rodents and birds are very sensitive to air pollution, including secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke can cause pneumonia, lung cancer, and respiratory issues in birds. A study conducted on rabbits living with smokers confirmed that they were at a higher risk of developing heart issues than the rabbits living in a smoke-free area.
Third-Hand Smoke and Your Pet
Third-hand smoke is also cause for concern. According to the Mayo Clinic, third-hand smoke is the clinging of cigarette smoke to furniture, hair, carpet, and other surfaces and materials. This is hazardous to pets because of the toxins this residue contains. Many pets like to clean themselves while rolling on the carpet and rubbing up against walls. They do this daily, and over a period of time. With the presence of third-hand smoke in the home, they are repeatedly being exposed to these harmful chemicals.
Ingestion of Butts and Litter
Pets are affected in more ways than just being exposed to second and third-hand smoke. They are also introduced to the harmful effects of ingesting cigarette butts, empty packs containing trace amounts of tobacco, or sometimes, whole cigarettes. According to the US National Library of Medicine who conducted a survey on the effects of cigarette butt consumption, symptoms may include, but are not limited to, tremors, lack of coordination, convulsions, excessive salivation, respiratory failure, weakness, and in extreme cases, death.
The Good News
Everyone loves their pets, and many people make several changes in their lifestyle to make sure their pets are happy and healthy. In 2008, Tobacco Control published the results of a survey which revealed some interesting facts. According to the results, almost one-third of the participants said that after finding out that smoking is also bad for their pets, they are more motivated to quit. Almost 10%, after learning the potential risks of secondhand smoke to their pets, said they would ask their partners to quit.
How to Ensure Your Pet’s Safety… Until You Quit Smoking
Quitting smoking is in your best interest, as well as the best interest of your pets and of the people around you. However, it may take a while to fully kick the habit. Here are a few things you can do to ensure that your smoking affects your pets as little as possible.
- If you must smoke, step outside and never do it in the presence of your pet.
- Never leave the pack of cigarettes/cigars, nicotine patches or gums, snuff, chewing tobacco, e-liquids, or the butts where you pets can have access. Always keep your ashtrays clean.
- Use a high-quality air purifier to get rid of excessive toxins.
- Even if you smoke outside, particles of smoke can get stuck into your clothes. Therefore, it’s good to wash them or at least air them before going near your pets.
- If you’ve smoked and are going to touch your pets, make sure to wash your hands.
- Likewise, washing your hair is also a good idea.
Taking these small precautions can go a long way when it comes to the well-being of your pets. They make your life more fun and more interesting, and you owe it to them not to endanger their health.