December 01, 2016

The Cigarettes You Smoke Can Kill Your Pet

The US Food and Drug Administration issued a “Consumer Update” on how smoking is not only bad for humans, but it has negative effects on the health of pets.
By Kristi Rosa
The dangers of smoking cigarettes are, for the most part, common knowledge nowadays. Most people are aware of the harm it does to the body, especially the lungs, and how it has the ability to cut time off of your life expectancy. Just as it is harmful for humans, it is also harmful for “man’s best friend.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one of every five deaths in the United States annually are due to cigarette smoking; this totals to 480,000 deaths each year, including deaths from inhaling secondhand smoke.

According to US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) veterinarian Carmela Stamper, DVM, the dangers of smoking are not just attributable to humans. In a recent FDA “Consumer Update,” Dr. Stamper commented, “Smoking’s not only harmful to people; it’s harmful to pets, too. If 58 million non-smoking adults and children are exposed to tobacco smoke, imagine how many pets are exposed at the same time.”

According to the CDC, secondhand smoke is smoke that results from burning a number of different tobacco products and tobacco smoke is comprised of over 7,000 chemicals; hundreds of these chemicals are toxic and around 70 of them have the potential to cause cancer. When living with someone who smokes tobacco products, the tobacco smoke tends to “linger” in the air, the air that pets are breathing in along with their owners.

A term that perhaps is not heard as often is “third-hand smoke,” and according to the FDA, this smoke is especially harmful to pets. The FDA describes third-hand smoke as “residue” that can remain on rugs, furniture, and even clothes; this residue consists of a number of different compounds, including nicotine.
According to Dr. Stamper, “Like children, dogs and cats spend a lot of time on or near the floor, where tobacco smoke residue concentrates in house dust, carpets and rugs. Then, it gets on their fur. Dogs, cats and children not only breathe these harmful substances in, but pets can also ingest them by licking their owner’s hair, skin, and clothes.”

In addition, the FDA notes that every time that your pet grooms itself or other animals, they are actually ingesting these harmful compounds on top of breathing them in.

Inhaling tobacco smoke can result in a number of health complications for pet dogs. One of the biggest factors lies, interestingly enough, in the length of a dog’s nose. According to the FDA, “The hair and mucus in your nose and the mucus in your sinuses act like glue traps. They trap particles like dust, pollen, and tobacco smoke, and keep them out of your lungs. Bigger noses, therefore, will trap more particles. This holds true, especially in dogs.” When it comes to pet cats, they are particularly at risk of oral squamous cell carcinoma, a kind of mouth cancer that is a result of third-hand smoke particles that typically accumulate underneath the tongue post-grooming.

Did You Know:
  • There are certain dog breeds that have a greater risk to develop nose or lung cancer.
  • If an owner smokes over one pack of cigarettes daily, his/her pet cat are three times as likely to develop lymphoma.
  • Dogs and cats are not the only pets that smoking can negatively affect; birds, guinea pigs, and fish are also at risk of developing health complications due to inhaling cigarette smoke.


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