The history of smoking tobacco may reach back many hundreds of years, but research in the 20th century has made it clear how harmful this habit is. Furthermore, secondhand smoke has been implicated in the illnesses and even deaths of non-smokers. What's even more disturbing is that smokers may have unknowingly contributed to severe disease in dogs and cats.
Most people understand that secondhand smoke from cigarettes contains an incredible number of hazardous substances and many of them are carcinogenic. These chemicals are found in high concentrations in carpets and on furniture around the home. Pets sharing this environment will get these toxins on their fur and then ingest them during normal grooming. Increased numbers of smokers and smoking in households corresponds with higher levels of the by-products of nicotine metabolism in pets sharing that home.
In the early 1990s, researchers found correlations between nasal cancers in dogs and the presence of smokers in the home. There is also a concern that environmental tobacco smoke may increase the incidence of lung cancer in our canine friends as well.
Cats may actually be at higher risk for serious disease when they live in a smoking environment. As mentioned above, many cigarette smoke toxins settle to low levels in the home and cats will pick up these substances on their fur. Because of their fastidious grooming habits, cats end up ingesting a higher level of chemicals and this leads to a greater chance of several types of cancer.
With more than 46 million smokers in North America and about 60 percent of the population own a dog or cat, the risk for the animal is substantial. Pets are often good at hiding signs of illness, so many smoking owners fail to realize the damage that their habit is causing to the four-legged family member. Understanding that it's not easy to quit this addictive habit, people who smoke and have pets should attempt to minimize their pets' exposure by smoking outdoors.
Another important thing to remember is that smoking in the car with pets can create a toxic environment, even with the windows open. Some states and Canadian provinces ban smoking in cars when children are passengers because of the chance for serious exposures. If you must smoke when you drive, leave your pets and kids at home!
If you have questions about smoke and your pet please contact Dr Underwood of the Trumann Animal Clinic and Best Friends Vet Mobile Service at firstname.lastname@example.org.