Second-hand Smoke is Killing Pets
Not only are smokers risking their own health, they are also having a serious effect on the health of their pets. The chemicals in second-hand smoke are hazardous to the blood and organs of all pets including fish and increase their risk of developing cancer, lung disease and heart trouble. Health officials in the US are urging smokers to quit the habit, if only to save their treasured pets from a premature death.
Research on Smoking and Pets
There has been very little research into the effect of smoking on pets. However, the studies which have been conducted all indicate that smoking has a detrimental effect on animals’ health. Pets spend much of their time close to the floor where tobacco smoke residue gathers in the house dust and clings to carpets. It then gets into animals’ fur from where they ingest it. They will also inhale harmful particles which remain in the air.
Research into Animal Health
Second-hand smoke can cause lung and nasal cancer in dogs, malignant lymphoma in cats and allergy and respiratory problems in any animals. This is according to studies undertaken at Tufts University’s School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts. Similar results were found during research conducted in Colorado. The number of pets which die each year as a result of their owners smoking is not yet known.
The research at Tufts did indicate that exposure to smoke can double a cat’s chances of contracting cancer. Living with a smoker for five years increases the risk fourfold. Unfortunately, cancer kills more cats and dogs than any other disease.
Dogs and Their Noses
Dogs with big noses are particularly prone to developing nose cancer as the hair and mucus in their nasal passage traps the smoke. This prevents it from getting into their lungs but the toxins are trapped in the nose and the tissues can later become cancerous. Dogs with small noses are prone to lung cancer as more particles reach the lungs.
Cats and Cancer
Cats have a higher risk of developing cancer than dogs. Cigarette smoke can cause mouth cancer and cancer of the immune system (lymphoma) in felines. This is because they groom themselves frequently and so consume the particles which have adhered to their fur. Even if their owners can afford chemotherapy, only 10% of cats survive for more than one year after contracting lymphoma.
Smoking and Fish
The carcinogenic toxins in smoke will dissolve in water and so even aquarium fish are at risk if their owners smoke. A study by the Veterinary Clinics of North America Exotic Animal Practice discovered that fish exposed to high levels of nicotine can start to spasm and can die in a matter of hours.
Even electronic cigarettes may be problematic. These devices contain nicotine which is a poison. Dogs can find discarded cartridges containing nicotine and consume them. In addition, the propylene glycol used in eliquids is an irritant to cats, even when vaporized.