The effects smoking can have on your lungs, as well as the people around you, are well known. But less attention has been paid to the effects smoking can have on our pets. Vaping or smoking a cigarette or cigar near your furry friend might not seem like a big deal, but it could lead to significant health problems.
Why smoking is harmful to pets
Smoking is one of the leading preventable causes of death around the world. Although the worst effects are present in people who personally smoke, the people and pets around them are not immune to smoking’s dangers. Over time, secondhand and thirdhand smoke can have disastrous effects on your pet’s health.
Pets are exposed to secondhand smoke by inhaling smoke that you exhale or the smoke that comes off the product itself. Thirdhand smoke is the residue from smoke. This residue can attach to surfaces, skin, clothes and more in your pet’s environment.
Cigarettes are filled with harmful chemicals and toxins that are dangerous for humans and furry friends alike. These ingredients are not only harmful when a cigarette is lit. They are also harmful when they’re allowed to build up in an environment. The infamous “smoke smell” that lingers in a house or car is caused by the buildup of chemical residue that sticks to walls, furniture and clothes.
Therefore, your pet is exposed to these chemicals when you’re actively smoking and far after. They might inhale gases that the residue gives off or ingest chemicals lingering on their fur after they’ve lounged on the furniture or floor.
The dangers of smoking around pets
Experts are still developing research on the effects smoking has on pets. This body of research is much smaller than it is on humans, but more and more people are discovering its importance. However, the existing information sheds light on some of the potential dangers smoking around pets could lead to.
Animals with existing respiratory problems like asthma are the most likely to experience the immediate effects of secondhand smoke. Smoke from any product, including cigarettes, cigars and vape pens and e-cigarettes, could trigger coughing and breathing problems in these pets.
Research has also shown that being exposed to smoke may cause things like asthma, allergies and bronchitis. All of these conditions make it hard for your pet to breathe and can be life-threatening, especially if smoke is a trigger.
Like in humans, a pet’s frequent exposure to toxins and chemicals from cigarettes can lead to cat cancer and dog cancer. Two of the most common smoking-related dog cancers are lung cancer and cancer of the nose. What pets inhale smoke, their noses work to filter the particles and trap them, so they don’t reach the lungs. Unfortunately, those particles stay trapped there and can cause abnormal cell growth in the nose. Dog breeds that have flatter noses tend to suffer from lung cancer more frequently, since fewer particles are filtered in the nose and have the opportunity to travel to the lungs.
Cats, meanwhile, are most susceptible to an aggressive mouth cancer called oral squamous cell carcinoma. This is because cats are more likely to groom themselves and, as a result, ingest smoke particles lingering on their fur. Cats living in smoking households are also more likely to develop lymphoma, a form of cancer related to the immune system, as well as lung cancer due to their short noses.
Even having nicotine products around your pets without smoking could be dangerous to them. If your pet decides to eat a cigarette butt on the ground or gets into your bottle of vape liquid, they could ingest a significant amount of nicotine. Even small doses can be fatal for both cats and dogs. Nicotine poisoning may cause symptoms like vomiting, drooling, a rapid heartbeat, shaking and seizures. Pets suffering from these symptoms should be rushed to the vet immediately.
Because of the high risk for organ diseases in humans due to smoking, it’s possible that pets may be susceptible to these same problems. Research shown that dogs exposed to secondhand smoke experience more eye problems and skin diseases. Other animals like birds and rabbits have developed heart disease as result of smoke exposure. More research is needed on this subject, but it’s likely that smoking can have disastrous effects on your pet’s overall health.
A smoke-free home is the safest thing for your pet
Under no circumstance should a pet owner blow smoke into their pet’s faces. Doing so could put them at risk for respiratory distress or nicotine poisoning in the short term and cancer or other diseases in the long term. Additionally, pet owners who smoke should take care to not smoke around their pets or inside the home. If possible, quitting smoking is the best way to mitigate the negative consequences smoking can have on both you and your furry friend.