What the Experts Say About Pets and Cigarettes

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What about kitty and Fido?Per Dr. Carolynn MacAllister, DVM Oklahoma State University: “There have been a number of scientific papers recently that have reported the significant health threat secondhand smoke poses to pets. Secondhand smoke has been associated with oral cancer and lymphoma in cats, lung and nasal cancer in dogs, as well as lung cancer and pneumonia in birds.”

Dr. Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, medical director of the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center: “Nicotine from secondhand smoke can have effects to the nervous systems of cats and dogs. Environmental tobacco smoke has been shown to contain numerous cancer-causing compounds, making it hazardous for animals as well as humans.”

Dr. Jan Bellows, DVM, All Pets Dental Clinic in Weston, FL: “Dog and cat lungs are virtually identical to human lungs.”

Dr. Lorraine Castrovilly, DVM, at Garrison Animal Hospital: If people think about the effects on pets that breathe in or ingest cigarette smoke or tobacco products, I am confident that most pet owners would take the necessary precautions to protect the health and safety of their pets. At the very least, they might at least stop and think about what they are doing.”

“Dogs and cats have no voice. They rely on their owners to make healthy decisions to keep them safe. Prevention, therefore, is the best step toward that goal. People are very receptive when they understand the risk.”

What is the Difference Between Second- and Third-Hand Smoke?

Research shows just how dangerous second and third hand smoke is to the animals who live with us. Second hand smoke is defined as smoke that is exhaled or otherwise escapes into the air and can be inhaled by pets. Third hand smoke is the residue that remains on skin, fur, clothing, furniture, etc., even after the air has cleared. Both of these categories can be combined under the term environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Measurable levels of carcinogens can be found in dog’s hair and urine for months after exposure.

Additional risks associated with third-hand smoke for humans and dogs were published in a study by Harvard Medical School. The unseen smoke particles that form a mixture of toxic gases cling to smokers’ hair and clothing, sofas, carpeting and the upholstery in your car long after your cigarette has been thrown out and the smoke is gone. Third-hand smoke is noticed when you smell a smoker in an elevator or when you are in a hotel room where people have been smoking.

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