How Cigarettes Affect your Furry Friends
Vaping experts at EverSmoke explore how smoking cigarettes around pets can affect their health and appearance
Thousands of people are making the decision to use smokeless alternatives rather than costly, and smelly, traditional cigarettes. While most of these people are making the switch for the sake of their own health and the health of their families, many don't realize that it is also helping to make their four-legged (and feathered) children happier and healthier as well.
(Read 5 Ways Smoking Affects your Body to learn more about the health effects of cigarettes on the smoker)
Animals, like people, can face numerous health problems after being exposed to tobacco smoke, and since they cannot make changes for themselves, we must do it for them.
Tobacco Cigarettes & Pets
Breathing in secondhand smoke can lead to many health problems in pets just like with people, including respiratory problems and allergies. Dogs can also suffer from allergic dermatitis (a skin condition characterized by an inflammation of the skin). Moreover, just like people, pets are at a risk of cancer from tobacco cigarette exposure. Dogs in particular are also susceptible to nasal and lung cancers, whereas, cats are prone to lymphoma.
Cats are susceptible to third-hand smoke (the smell and toxins that cling to surfaces exposed to tobacco smoke) because they are meticulous groomers—licking themselves to stay clean and ingesting the deadly cocktail.
Birds can also be affected by tobacco smoke due to their hypersensitive respiratory systems. Exposure to tobacco smoke can lead to lung problems such as coughing and wheezing, but also pneumonia and lung cancer. In addition, birds can also experience problems with their eyes, skin (most often dermatitis), heart and trouble with fertility.
With a switch from traditional to smokeless cigarettes, Fido or Fluffy can continue to curl up in your lap without fear of becoming sick.
Nicotine and Your Pets
Regardless of whether you smoke traditional or smokeless cigarettes, pet owners must make sure they store their devices away from pets because nicotine—whether in liquid form or tobacco—can be potentially fatal to animals.
Depending on your particular brand of cigarette, there can be 15-25 mg of nicotine per cigarette—with butts typically having between 4 and 8 mg. Nicotine toxicity for pets (specifically dogs and cats) per pound is 0.5-1.0 mg. Moreover, 10 mg/kg can be fatal for dogs. This means that your family pet does not need to ingest much to be in danger.
If you're still smoking tobacco cigarettes, be mindful of where your butts are going. Pets that chew on them can ingest dangerous levels of nicotine (and other carcinogens), which can prove fatal. In addition, make sure that your pet does not drink water that has cigarette or cigar butts floating in it because the chemicals can leach out into the water, thus making it hazardous.
Nicotine replacement systems (i.e. gums and patches) are not any safer. Please keep these out of the reach of pets.
In terms of exposure to nicotine, smokeless cigarettes (if mishandled by owners) are just as dangerous for pets. In recent months, instances of animals being injured by smokeless cigarettes and nicotine liquid have risen.
This means that vapers should also be careful to store their e-cigs (and e-liquids) where their pets cannot reach. Not only could the device itself cause damage if ingested—resulting in surgery to repair any tears or retrieving the device if it becomes lodged in the throat—but they can suffer from nicotine poisoning.
Ingesting nicotine can lead to vomiting, tremors and an irregular heart rate in any cat or dog.
Making the Switch to a Smokeless Alternative
A pet owner who switches to smokeless cigarettes does not have to worry about increased vet bills brought on by an allergic reaction or even different forms of secondhand smoke-related cancers. However, if you continue to smoke tobacco cigarettes as you switch over, there are steps you can take to help protect your pets.
- The ASPCA recommends smoking outside away from your pets.
- This can also help to keep second-hand and third-hand smoke particles away from you and those who live in and visit your house.
- Use an air purifier
- This device will help to draw toxins out of the air.
- Practice hand washing after smoking and before touching pets.
- Dispose of butts (and other tobacco items) where pets can't access
- This includes keeping ashtrays clean.