Watch Tip Classic: Secondhand Smoke Harms Pets

Posted on February 20th, 2012 by Anna Nirva

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Secondhand smoke is a threat to pets—did you know? It is even more toxic for pets than for humans because not only do they breathe the fumes, they lick the cancer-causing residue from their fur while grooming! Cats and short-nosed dogs are most affected, but all pets in smoking households are more likely to develop lung/nasal/mouth cancers and lymphoma.

If you smoke, be aware of the increased risk of cancer for your pets

Have you ever noticed the smoke residue that coats the walls and windows inside the home of a smoker? In addition to coating lung tissues, that toxic airborne residue infiltrates porous materials, such as clothing and pet fur. Secondhand smoke causes cancer in cats and dogs just like it does in non-smokers who are forced to breathe the same air. The smoke can also cause breathing difficulties and eye/skin irritations. Plus, with their sensitive noses, just imagine how dogs and cats must dislike the strong acrid odors.

Cats are daily self-groomers so they are particularly vulnerable. Also, they are less likely to be thoroughly bathed at the groomers, unlike many dogs.  Cats in smoking homes are three times as likely to get mouth cancer or lymphoma than cats in non-smoking homes.

Dogs in smoking homes are three times as likely to get lung or nasal cancer. Short-nosed breeds like pugs and bulldogs are most affected because their short nasal passages are less effective filters.

If you must smoke indoors with your pets, take them to groomers more frequently to clean the toxins from their fur. Increase the frequency of vet visits and tell your vet that you smoke so that your pet will get screened appropriately for those cancers.

Rabbits, birds, rats and other small mammals are also vulnerable to illnesses caused by secondhand smoke.

IMPORTANT: In addition, keep cigarette butts, nicotine gums and patches away from your pets. They are poisonous to pets and baby pets can even die from ingesting them.

Read more here.

A fact sheet from the Los Angeles Public Health Dept. is available here.

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