Whether you’re a smoker or not, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard a significant amount about the dangers of secondhand smoke to the people around you. However, the way in which secondhand smoke affects your pets is not such common knowledge. As your pets also share your home and the air that you breathe, second and third-hand smoke is as dangerous to pets as it is to humans. As such, it’s important that you’re aware of the effects and the preventative measures which you should take.
That’s why today, we’re discussing how smoking can impact your pet’s health. From the signs that your pet may be affected to how to ensure the safety of your pets, living in a house with a smoker puts dogs, cats, birds, and other small pets at a greater risk of many health problems – so we’re helping you catch them early.
Be Aware of the Effects
In humans, second-hand smoke is associated with respiratory problems, from coughing and sneezing to asthma and shortness of breath – and there is a great deal of awareness around the subject. However, second-hand smoke can also put your pets at risk of several health problems – from respiratory issues in dogs to lung cancer in cats.
The way in which your pets are affected if they have been exposed to secondhand smoke differs from pet to pet, so it’s important to bear this in mind when looking out for tell-tale signs.
Dogs exposed to second-hand smoke may experience more eye infections, allergies, and respiratory issues, including lung cancer.
Long-nosed dogs are more prone to nasal cancer, while short-nosed dogs often are more likely to develop lung cancer, as an increased surface area in a long nasal canal will trap more particles. Therefore, more toxins and carcinogens in tobacco smoke will accumulate in the nasal mucus, putting long-nosed dogs at greater risk of tumors. While short noses may not be effective ‘trappers,’ particles and carcinogens are more likely to reach the lungs – resulting in an increased likelihood of developing lung cancer.
Similarly, cats which live in a smoky environment are at a greater risk of developing lung cancer and lymphoma. The same correlation of having a short nose and risks of cancer can be applied with cats. However, cats are at more of a risk from third-hand smoke which clings to furniture, rugs and pet fur, even after the air in the room is cleared.
Another thing to consider is the fact that cats are closer to the ground than we are, so are consequently exposed to more smoke residue which has settled out of the environment and adhered to carpets, upholstery, and bedding – enhanced as they sleep in various spots throughout the course of the day.
Furthermore, tumors can develop in the mouth from licking toxic particles which accumulate on their fur from smoke-filled air as the mucous membranes are exposed. So, pets with good hygiene habits are not so healthy in smoking environments.
Birds are also affected by second-hand smoke, as pets in the home breathe what we breathe. Their respiratory systems are very sensitive to airborne pollutants, making them at high risk of pneumonia, lung cancer, or fertility issues when housed in smoky environments. Prevention or catching the signs early is the key to prioritizing the health of your fluffy friends.
Small or ‘pocket pets’ such as guinea pigs aren’t immune to the effects of tobacco smoke. Often developing similar microscopic changes in their lungs, similar to those seen in people who smoke, emphysema, high blood pressure, and pulmonary hypertension are things to look out for. Even pets as small as fish can be affected by nicotine, as it dissolves easily in water and could lead to poisoning.
Nicotine poisoning is a serious concern when it comes to pets – caused by inhaling and ingesting – and should be treated as an emergency. Depending on the amount consumed, nicotine can be a very rapid-acting toxin. Usually, your pet will show signs of poisoning such as vomiting, seizures, tremors, or weakness within just one hour. So in the event that your pet swallows a cigarette, get them to your veterinarian as soon as possible to ensure their best chances of recovery.
Look for the Vital Signs.
If your pet has been exposed to second-hand smoke, it’s vital that you keep a watchful eye on your pet. Almost 85% of tobacco smoke is invisible, which means you may not notice how far it spreads. So, consult your vet immediately if you notice any breathing problems, excessive or unusual salivation, diarrhea, vomiting, an irregular heartbeat – or anything associated with a cardiac abnormality. Catching these symptoms early will ensure the best care for your much-loved companion.
Checking your pet for any suspicious lumps and bumps is always a necessary precaution, however even more so if your pet is in a smoking environment. Look for nasal discharge or bleeding in dogs and sores on your cat’s fur. Itching, biting, chewing, and licking, as well as sores and lesions, are all signs of skin problems which may be caused by smoking around pets. In addition to worsening respiratory allergies, there’s a growing worry that smoking inflames allergic dermatitis – exposing pets with sensitive skin to smoke may lead to more severe allergic symptoms.
Attending to symptoms early is the best method of treatment. If you are in doubt, it’s always best to call the vet to give your pet the once over to put your mind at ease. However, it’s worth considering your smoking habits to ensure the health of your fluffy friend won’t be affected – after all, the ultimate method of prevention is always to break the habit. But if you must smoke, we recommend doing it outside, which is better than nothing – although that’s not a catchall preventive solution.
Protect from the Puff
Pets are great motivators in encouraging us to do things for our health. From putting down that fork and giving them some of our dinner to interrupting our favorite television show to take them on a walk – our pets change our routine to eat less and exercise more.
Other measures to take could include bathing your pets regularly to remove smoke residue, as well as steam cleaning carpets, furniture and drapes – this could prove very beneficial for cats by removing some traces of third-hand smoke. Don’t leave cigarette butts or ashtrays in easy access of any pets, as this should remove any temptation your pet may have to think it’s a tasty snack. After all, the more preventative measures you take, the less harm smoking will have on your pets.
Break the Link
It doesn’t stop there. Our pets are great motivators to stop smoking and are a great jump start to kick the habit. However, it may be the case that putting down that cigarette is a lot easier said than done. While some pet owners take their smoke breaks outside to reduce their pet’s exposure to second-hand smoke, others use open windows or air filters in the home. These strategies do help; however, there’s no risk-free level of second-hand smoke – minimal exposure can still negatively impact cats, dogs, and birds.
The best strategy to break the link between your pet’s health and smoking is ultimately not to smoke at all. Although, anyone who is a smoker will tell you that quitting is no easy feat. So, the first step towards ending the cycle could be to take up vaping for your pet’s sake and yours too! The good news is that the damage from cigarettes abates with time, so let’s hope that by decreasing your pet’s exposure to secondhand smoke will do the same. While you should still vape responsibly, this is a great habit to adopt if you’re struggling to kick the habit altogether, and will ultimately be less harmful to your furry friends.
Key points to take away:
- Be aware, and spread this awareness – the more people who know the effects of second and third-hand smoke on your pets, the more action will be taken.
- Look for the signs – if your pet seems off, get it checked, even if it’s just for peace of mind.
- Most importantly… consider breaking the habit – quitting smoking is the best preventative measure to avoid your pet’s health being harmed by nicotine and other toxins.
Taking as many preventative or reactive measures as possible will ensure the best health for both you and your pet. Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge of all of the tell-tale signs keeping an eye on your pets if you are a smoker is the best way to prioritize their health.
This article was contributed by Vapester, a leading supplier of vape pens and e-liquids, looking to provide a reliable, cost-effective solution to those interested in a cleaner and healthier lifestyle.