Second-Hand Smoke and Your Pet
July 11, 2013
We all know that smoking is bad for our health, but what might
surprise many pet-owners are the dangerous effects that same smoke
can have on their four-legged loved ones after some time.
"There are studies that show that dogs exposed to large amounts
of second-hand smoke have significant changes to their lung tissue
over time," said Heather Wilson-Robles, assistant professor at the
Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical
Science (CVM). "These changes range from fibrosis, or scarring of
the lung tissue to precancerous and even cancerous lesions."
A case report published in 2012 showed a cat developing a
tracheal carcinoma after being exposed to large amounts of
second-hand smoke in the home, and another study in 2002, published
by the group at Tufts, showed that second hand smoke may double the
risk of lymphoma development in cats.
Many veterinarians also feel that symptoms in their patients
with respiratory diseases such as asthma or bronchitis improve if
the owner's quit smoking. For those that do smoke, there are a few
ways to tell if your habit is affecting your pet's health.
"For animals with asthma, allergic lung disease, or bronchitis
you might see a dry hacking and progressive cough," said
Wilson-Robles. "Asthma patients may have more frequent asthma
attacks and their symptoms may be more difficult to manage
medically. Animals with allergic lung disease will often have more
severe symptoms if they live in a smoking household and these
symptoms may persist all year round rather than being
Disposing of your tobacco may also prove hazardous to the
wellbeing of your pet if they tend to be nosy or like to dig in the
trash. "Ingestion of tobacco products may cause gastrointestinal
upset such as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, increased salivation
and trembling," said Wilson-Robles. "High doses of nicotine may
lead to excitement, constricted pupils, odd behavior, seizures and
even death. Cigarette butts are especially dangerous as they
contain 25% of the nicotine found in the cigarette."
While the most efficient way to treat second-hand tobacco
problems with your pet is for the owner to quit using the
substance, there are other ways to keep your pet safe and keep your
"Pet-owners need to immediately quit smoking around the animal
and wash their hands thoroughly after smoking before touching the
pet or anything it may come in contact with," said Wilson-Robles.
"If your dog or cat eats a cigarette, chewing tobacco, cigar, etc.
call an emergency clinic nearby for directions on how to treat this
toxicosis. In most cases the tobacco will induce vomiting by
itself, but if not vomiting should be induced to clean the stomach
out and prevent systemic and possibly even lethal nicotine
If you believe your pet is suffering from tobacco-related issues
of any kind schedule an appointment with your local veterinarian
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