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Impact of Tobacco Use on Pet Health

Research shows just how dangerous second and third hand smoke is to the people around smokers, but what about the animals who live with us?  Second hand smoke is defined as environmental tobacco smoke that is inhaled involuntarily or passively by someone who is not smoking, including pets. Third hand smoke is the residue that remains on skin, fur, clothing, furniture, etc., even after the air has cleared.

Dogs and secondhand smoke
Studies from multiple universities suggest that muzzle length plays a role in the type of cancer a dog is likely to develop from secondhand smoke. Dogs with long muzzles are more likely to develop nose and sinus cancers, since their noses and sinuses have more surface area on which carcinogens can accumulate, while dogs with short and medium-length muzzles are more likely to develop lung cancer.

Cats and secondhand smoke
Cats are more prone to develop cancers of the mouth and lymph nodes because of second- and third-hand smoke. When cats groom themselves, they lick up the toxic substances that have accumulated on their fur. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that cats living in homes where someone smokes a pack of cigarettes or more each day are three times more likely to develop malignant lymphoma than cats living with nonsmokers. Another study published in Veterinary Medicine found that cats exposed to smoke from one to 19 cigarettes (a typical pack contains 20 cigarettes) a day are four times more likely to be diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma — the most common and an aggressive type of oral cancer in cats.

How your pet can be affected by cigarettes:

  • By ingestion of cigarette or cigar butts which contain toxins. 
  • By drinking water that contains cigar or cigarette butts (which can have high concentrations of nicotine). 
  • By breathing secondhand smoke. 
  • By ingestion of nicotine replacement gum and patches. 

Health Effects:

  • Breathing problems in dogs and asthmatic-like symptoms in cats 
  • Respiratory difficulties and respiratory paralysis 
  • Lung cancer in dogs 
  • Nasal cancer in dogs 
  • Salivation 
  • Diarrhea, Vomiting 
  • Cardiac abnormalities 
  • Feline lymphoma in cats 
  • Death: from one -5 cigarettes and from 1/3-1 cigar can be fatal if ingested. 

Is vaping (inhaling a vaporized solution that contains nicotine) a safer alternative? Not quite.  According to the American Lung Association, “the FDA tested a small sample of [electronic nicotine delivery systems like vape pens and e-cigarettes] and found a number of toxic chemicals, including diethylene gylcol — the same ingredient used in antifreeze.” The aerosol produced by e-cigarettes and vape pens also has the potential to be damaging to your pets.

Thinking about quitting? Contact your local Semper Fit Health Promotion Office today to see how you can live a tobacco-free life for you and your pet.

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