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Cigarettes and Pets – The Dangers of Secondhand Smoke

Most people have heard of the term secondhand smoke and how harmful it can be. Even after brief exposure, secondhand smoke has been proven to have health effects on both adults and children. Surely these harmful toxins and chemicals would therefore have a negative effect on animals as well?

Correct. Recent studies have revealed the damaging effects of secondhand smoke on household pets, which include respiratory problems, cancer and allergies. Pet owners are therefore being urged to keep a smoke free home.

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Cigarettes contain over 4000 chemicals, of which 43 are known carcinogens and 400 are other toxins. Household pets are not immune to the effects of these harmful chemicals. In fact, pets could end up facing the greatest health risks from secondhand smoke, as they spend most time in the home where these carcinogenic particles linger.

Potential Health Risks In Dogs

Dogs suffer from similar smoking-related illnesses to humans, including cancer and lung disease. Secondhand smoke has also been linked to negative effects on the canine respiratory system, including constriction of airways.

There is a large amount of evidence that suggests that secondhand smoke increases the likelihood of nasal tumors and cancer of the sinus. This type of cancer is more likely to develop in long-nosed dog breeds. This is due to the large surface area where the carcinogens can accumulate. Nasal cancer is often fatal in dogs.

Flat faced dogs and dogs with small or medium snouts that lives with smokers have been found to have an increased likelihood of lung cancer. This is due to their shorter nasal passages, which make it easier for harmful particles to reach the lungs. The American Journal of Epidemiology found that in general, dogs in smoking households have a 60% greater risk of lung cancer.

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Potential Health Risks in Cats

The potential health risks may be even greater for cats. A large part of this is due to their grooming regime.  During their hours of grooming every day, they end up licking the toxic substances that have accumulated on their fur. They are therefore more prone to cancers of the mouth and lymph node.

A study by Tufts University found that cats living around secondhand smoke are twice as likely to develop malignant lymphoma. Once developed, Lymphoma kills 3 out of 4 affiliated cats.

A later study by Tufts university found that cats living with more than one smoker or cats that had been exposed to environmental smoke for longer than 5 years had much higher rates of cancer.

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Potential Health Risk in Other Small Animals

The respiratory system of a bird makes them highly sensitive to air pollutants. This means that secondhand smoke increases their risk of lung cancer and pneumonia. It has also been found to cause heart problems in rabbits.

Professionals recommend limiting to smoking to outdoors, which can reduce the effects to your furry companions health. But ultimately, they highly recommend using your pets as an excuse to kick the habit – for everyone’s wellbeing!


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