Secondhand Smoke and Your Pet: Read this Before You Light Up
PetSmart Megan Krause/PetSmart Charities
Everyone knows the damaging effects secondhand smoke can have on people – but what about our pets?
More and more, scientific research is finding that secondhand smoke also poses a significant health threat to our furry and feathered friends. The American Journal of Epidemiology reported the following findings:
- Cats exposed to secondhand smoke have almost double the risk of developing feline malignant lymphoma
- Dogs in smoking households have a 60 percent greater risk of lung cancer
- Long-nosed dogs (such as Collies or Greyhounds) are twice as likely to develop nasal cancer if they live with smokers
Smoke inhalation is not the only threat. Toxins in the smoke can get trapped in pet's fur and ingested when they groom themselves, according to a 2001 Colorado State University study. Nicotine and other toxins have been found in the urine of pets who were exposed to secondhand smoke, the report stated.
And smoke can be just as troublesome for our pets of the flying variety. According to Dr. Nick Saint-Erne, a quality assurance veterinarian for PetSmart, birds have very sensitive respiratory systems. "Some vapors, including cigarette smoke, are toxic to them when we don't even notice it.”
Pet birds can develop pneumonia and lung cancer as well as eye, skin and heart problems from being exposed to secondhand smoke, Saint-Erne said.
A curious pet may also eat cigarettes which can cause fatal nicotine poisoning.
It all adds up to just another good reason to quit, according to health experts.
Heather Grzelka, spokeswoman for the American Lung Association, said, “There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. The American Lung Association encourages both pet owners and parents to not smoke indoors, or better yet, quit completely.”
Visit their Web site at www.lungusa.org for resources on quitting smoking. If you can’t quit quite yet, try to smoke outdoors, away from pets and people.