Vaping Around Pets: Are E-Cigs Toxic for them?
- Nicotine poisoning
- Allergies and illnesses from vapor
- Injuries from battery explosion
If your e-juice doesn’t contain nicotine, it doesn’t mean you have nothing to worry about as other ingredients and flavorings can be hazardous for the pets.
E-Juice Bottle in Wrong Paws Can be Lethal
In February 2014, Ivy a 14-week old, beautiful Staffordshire Terrier, consumed some e-juice from the bottle used by her 56-year old owner Keith Sutton in the UK. The owner tried putting her paws under cold tap water to control her heartbeat and rushed her to the vet. However, the vet didn’t know what to do in case of nicotine poisoning in dogs as it was a rare occurrence. She searched the internet, to no avail. Then she gave the pup steroids, but the poor little creature died the next day.
For small animals such as hamsters or small dog breeds, just 9.2mg of nicotine is enough to be lethal. Obviously, the bigger the pet, the more nicotine would have to be ingested for it to have a fatal effect. Even if it’s not lethal, nicotine can cause irreversible damage to pets.
Nicotine Poisoning in Pets
The most common and most lethal impact of vaping around pets come in the form of nicotine ingestion. Vets have treated pets for eating cigarette butts and other nicotine products. However, the influx of e-cigs has increased the number of such cases.
Ahna Brutlag, the associate director of veterinary services at Pet Poison Helpline acknowledges it in these words:
“We have handled cases for dogs and cats poisoned by eating traditional cigarettes or tobacco products containing nicotine for many years.” She further added, “As the use of e-cigarettes has become more widespread, our call volume for cases involving them has increased considerably.”
Symptoms of Poisoning in Pets
Depending on the amount consumed, nicotine can be a very rapid acting toxin. Usually, a pet will show signs of poisoning within one hour. The most common symptoms include:
- Change in Heart Rate
- Loss of appetite.
- Blood in the stool
How to Avoid Poisoning in Pets
Fortunately, the most lethal impact of vaping is also the easiest to avoid. All you have to do is keep your e-liquids stored in a secure location away from the reach of your curious pet. Also, make sure to encourage your guests to do the same.
The packaging of e-liquids is childproof. However, most pets have teeth sharp enough to break the bottles of e-liquids. As a result, they might end up ingesting some of the liquid in it. If you can keep your e-juices away from your pets, your vaping will have almost no impact on them.
What to Do in Case of Poisoning in Pets
In case your pet shows any symptoms of poisoning, call your vet or Poison Help Line at +1-800-213-6680 right away.
If your pet has ingested a small amount of nicotine, they might self-detox through vomiting. However, this does not mean that you can simply ignore the situation. They recommend to take them to the vet still so that they can take their heart rate and blood pressure. Furthermore, the vet may give additional detox to slow down heart rate and stop the tremors.
Vaping Around Pets: Vapor and Health Risks
We have well-documented risks related to secondhand smoke. So far, we don’t know too much when it comes to secondhand vaping.
Smoke from tobacco cigarettes can cause countless health issues. They include allergic dermatitis (a skin condition) to nasal or lung cancer and lymphoma. Doctor Jane Bellows from Weston, FL found human lungs with cat and dog lungs to be “very identical”. This led her to claim that secondhand smoke can be as harmful to pets as for other humans.
Several studies and research studies confirm that vapor might not be as hazardous as smoke. For instance, this study used four high nicotine e-liquids. The results showed that “For all byproducts measured, electronic cigarettes produce very small exposures relative to tobacco cigarettes. The study indicates no apparent risk to human health from e-cigarette emissions based on the compounds analyzed.”
Another, more recent, study by the Spanish Council of Scientific Research was recently published in the Journal of Chromatography. The researchers measured the levels of 156 VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in normal exhaled breath, smoke, and vapor. The results showed that exhaled vapor had fewer levels of VOCs than even indoor air and exhaled smoke. On the other hand, tobacco smoke had shown the highest levels.
But as a responsible owner, we still need to ensure our pets’ safety. Our pets can catch vapor or its remnants from surroundings, such as carpet, couch, etc., in their fur or feathers. As a result, it might lead to skin allergies. Some experts claim that inhalation of exhaled vapor can lead to some problems. They include allergies, respiratory issues, cardiovascular problems, and even cancers in pets.
It’s true that current studies don’t provide any concrete evidence that vaping around pets can be gravely hazardous. However, vets still recommend to step out when you want to enjoy vaping.
Injuries from Battery Explosions
The odds of an e-cig battery explosion are one in a million. However, you do not want to be that one in a million, especially with your pets nearby. The lithium-ion batteries might attract the pets. In fact, it can vent and explode. Many things can increase chances of an explosion. They include using a charger other than recommended, improper storage of loose batteries, and overcharging or over-discharging of vape batteries. No matter how rare an occurrence, when an e-cig battery explodes, it can cause serious injuries and property damage. This is why you should not only vape away from your pets. Moreover, you should also charge and keep your batteries away from your pets.
How Vaping Effects Different Types of Pets
Vapor has an intense, alluring smell, and dogs, in particular, seem to like it. This is why some of our canine friends will even try to ingest the vapor, which can be hazardous.
Interaction with cigarette smoke can be as bad for dogs as they are to humans. Dog breeds with long muzzles such as Border Collie or German Shepherd tend to get nasal cancer. At the same time, those with short noses such as Pugs and Bulldogs are more prone to lung cancer. Some health experts claim that vapor can have a similar impact.
Cats are even more susceptible to allergies caused by vaping. Propylene Glycol aka PG is a base in most e-liquids. Cats lick themselves to clean their fur. If they live in a vaping house, their fur can accumulate traces of vapor through direct or indirect contact. This can trigger a lot of allergies and skin conditions in cats. Felines can also suffer from “Heinz body,” a condition that damages red blood cells.
Birds and reptiles have weak respiratory systems, which can suffer serious issues if they continuously live in polluted air.
Five Simple Tips to Ensure Your Pets Safety
- Store e-liquids and filled tanks/cartridges safely where your pets can’t reach.
- Vape responsibly. Step outside when you have the urge to vape. At least don’t vape in the room where your pets spend most of their time.
- If you must vape in the same room as your pets, make sure there is enough ventilation. Discourage your pets from playing with the vapor.
- Charge and keep your e-cig batteries safely. Make sure your pets are not in the same room.
- If there is any mishap, instantly seek professional help.
Vaping might not be as dangerous for pets as they might have told you on TV or in the newspapers. However, it is not 100% safe. For example, a man was not careful with his e-liquids. As a result, his 14-week old puppy ate some nicotine he accidentally dropped on the floor and died. The media blamed electronic cigarettes, and nobody mentioned the carelessness of the owner. Even the most expensive pet foods you buy can cause health issues and allergies in pets. This means that you should do due diligence. To ensure the safety of your pets and also enjoy your vape – just vape responsibly.