When we think of the dangers of smoking, the welfare of pets doesn’t usually come to mind. Make no mistake,
smoking inside your home is a big health risk to your pets.
Cancer in pets has increased significantly over the last few years. Smoking in the home will adversely affect the level of care your pets receive.
Research at the University of Glasgow shows pets are at a greater risk than humans from second-hand smoke from tobacco products. They spend more time at home and on the floor where carcinogenic particles tend to linger. Even only a few cigarettes a day is toxic to them.
Third-hand smoke is possibly even more dangerous. This is the residue that collects over time on carpets, furniture, curtains, clothing, human skin, and animal fur etc.
Doctor Clare Knottenbelt from the University of Glasgow who headed up the study states “Our findings show that exposure to smoke in the home is having a direct impact on pets. It risks ongoing cell damage, increased weight gain after castration and has previously been show to increase the risk of certain cancers.”
Cats are at a higher risk than dogs, possibly because they are more diligent about their grooming. It stands to reason other pets such as rats, mice, ferrets, rabbits and reptiles are also in danger of health problems.
A Colorado State University study has shown nasal tumours and cancer of the sinuses have a higher incidence in dogs living with indoor smokers. It also determined lung cancer rates were higher in dogs especially in short to medium muzzled dogs such as boxers and pugs because shorter muzzles allow more carcinogens to reach the lungs. Chances are, cats have an even higher risk level, especially short muzzled breeds.
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology determined oral tissues were exposed to hazardous amounts of carcinogens ingested by daily grooming in pets living in a smoking household. Even minimal exposure is dangerous to cats.
A Tufts University study has found cats in a smoking environment are more than twice as likely to develop malignant lymphoma, the most common feline cancer, as those in non-smoking homes. The risk is three-fold when exposure is over five or more years.
The risk to birds is even greater. Second-hand smoke can be fatal.
Before handling birds after smoking you should rinse out your mouth, change clothes and wash your hands. If you provide care for birds, it is even more imperative your home is a non-smoking environment.
Other ways for pets to be poisoned by tobacco are:
– Eating cigarettes and cigars
– Drinking cigarette butt contaminated water
– Eating nicotine gum and patches
Your pet sitters and any other guests should be aware your home is a no-smoking zone.
Thanks to Dr. Karen Becker of Healthy Pets for research information.
If you suspect your pet has ingested a tobacco product, contact your veterinarian or phone the Animal Poison Hotline at 888-232-8870. I have used this number in Toronto and found them very helpful.