By Rhonda Baillargeon, LVT
We all know the dangers smoking poses to ourselves and our families, but those dangers can extend to our pets as well. There are three ways in which smoking can cause illness in our pets.
First, exposure to secondhand smoke has been shown to cause cancer, heart disease, asthma, and malignant lymphoma. Dogs can develop cancer of the nasal cavity, lung cancer, and heart disease. Cats living in smoking households are more than twice as likely to develop malignant lymphoma when compared to cats in non-smoking homes. They also can develop asthma-like symptoms. Pet birds are particularly susceptible to contaminants in the air including secondhand smoke. Birds can suffer from pneumonia, lung cancer, and problems with their eyes, heart and skin. Even if smoking is restricted to outside, pets in these homes have an increased risk of these diseases.
Have you heard the term third-hand smoke? This refers to the residue that is left behind in the environment long after the smoke from cigarettes has dissipated. This dark residue settles on everything, including the hair and fur of people and pets in the environment. This residue contains all the toxins in the smoke; pets consume these toxins when they lick their fur. Even if smoking is confined to one area of the house, pets that walk across surfaces coated with this poisonous residue pick it up on their feet and then contaminate other surfaces and bedding with the toxins. Eventually, the whole house is contaminated with these deadly poisons.
Finally, discarded cigarette butts and other tobacco products can cause gastrointestinal problems and nicotine toxicity if consumed. Even water that has discarded tobacco in it can pose a risk.
Think that e-cigarettes and vaping products are safe? Think again. The cartridges for these products contain concentrated amounts of nicotine and many are flavored so they are very attractive to pets and children. In addition, the product contained in these items can cause severe chemical burns if chewed.
Let your fur babies be your motivation for quitting! Reach out to the Maine Tobacco Helpline or go to www.TheQuitLink.com for help kicking the habit.Also, remember that nicotine gum and patches are also dangerous for our pets, so store them responsibly while on the journey to a smoke free life!