Secondhand Smoke Can Have a Devastating Effect on Pets

Whether you smoke or not, you’re probably aware of all the health risks it poses. Some of these include increased risk of lung cancer, heart attack, asthma, and other types of cancers. What many people don’t stop to consider is that secondhand smoke can affect pets even more severely than it does humans. With their smaller body size and lung capacity, dogs and cats can’t process the smoke they inhale as efficiently as people do. 
With the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout coming up on November 16, now is a great time to educate others about secondhand smoke or to kick the habit yourself. According to the American Cancer Society, 40 million people in this country smoke. Sadly, that number isn’t limited to adults. The goal of the campaign is to encourage people to quit for just one day to prove to themselves they can to it. This is the first step towards a smoke-free future.
The Effect of Cigarette Smoke on Cats and Dogs
Cats who live in a home with at least one smoker are three times more likely to develop lymphoma, a cancer that originates in the body’s lymphatic system. Squamous cell carcinoma is another common cancer in cats exposed to secondhand smoke. Since cats spend a lot of time grooming themselves, they’re licking the carcinogens that settle into their fur. Cats exposed to secondhand smoke also have a greater likelihood of developing oral cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Dogs in smoking homes have a high cancer risk as well. Those with short noses have an increased risk of developing lung cancer while dogs with longer noses are more likely to develop nasal cancer. Living with passive smoke is also a leading cause of bronchitis in dogs. They’re also more likely to attempt to ingest cigarette butts from an ashtray. This can have a highly toxic effect. Please contact Grantsburg Animal Hospital or Wild River Veterinary Clinic right away if you suspect your dog swallowed a cigarette butt and you notice any of these symptoms:
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fast or slow heartbeat
  • Lack of coordination
  • Tremors
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
Make a Smoke-Free Home Part of Your Pet’s Wellness Plan
We know you love your pet and want her to have a long, happy, and healthy life. One way to achieve this is to allow her to live in a smoke-free home. If you’re struggling trying to quit smoking, click here for resources from the Centers for Disease Control. Another way to ensure your pet’s well-being is to bring her in for regular preventive care exams at one of our clinics. Not only do you receive guidance on behavior, nutrition, sleep, and other important issues, our staff can diagnose and treat health problems that would otherwise have gone undetected. 
Here’s to a healthy, smoke-free future for you and your pets!
Photo Credit: Barski / Getty Images

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