Cigarette Smoke and Pets

No smoking around pets allowed! It’s common knowledge that secondhand smoke from cigarettes and tobacco products is harmful to humans. But how does it affect our four-legged companions?

It would not be an overstatement to say that almost all Americans realize the dangers of smoking cigarettes. And warnings are not just for those who smoke, as it can affect everyone around them. Unfortunately, that includes your furry family members. There have been multiple studies, which have all found that smoke can cause serious health issues in cats and dogs. Dr. Carolynn MacAllister from Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service stated that “Secondhand smoke has been associated with oral (mouth) cancer and lymphoma (cancer that affects the white blood cells) in cats and nasal (nose) cancer in dogs.”

The reason cats are so susceptible to mouth cancer while around cigarette smoke is because of the way in which they groom themselves. Cats lick their fur to clean it, therefore they are also picking up the carcinogens, or the residue, from the secondhand smoke. Dogs are more likely to develop nasal cancer because they have a larger surface area around the nose and sinus area. The larger space allows for the carcinogens to rest in that area.

Symptoms of cancer include: foul odors from the mouth or ears, abnormal discharges such as pus or blood from any part of the body, weight loss, change in appetite, lethargy (unwillingness to move), and evidence of pain.

You might also be surprised to learn that limiting the risk of cancer is not the only reason to keep cigarettes away from your animals and out of the household. If products containing tobacco are not stored properly, your pet could easily get into the substance. If eaten, your furry friend could suffer from nicotine poisoning, which can be fatal. While everyone is entitled to their own life choices, being a nonsmoker can have benefits for you, your loved ones and your four-legged companions.

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