Undoubtedly, by now you are aware of the negative effects that smoking has on a human’s health. But, have you ever considered the negative effects that smoking can have on your dog?
The FDA warns that dogs living with smokers are at risk of getting sick when exposed to both secondhand, and thirdhand, smoke. And, if you’re thinking your pet is safe just because you never smoke within the home, then think again (and keep reading)…
How Does Smoking Affect My Dog?
Secondhand smoke is the smoke that lingers in the air and involuntarily gets inhaled by your dog. It can have some of the same harmful effects on a dog that it can on a person. Dogs exposed to smoke have an increased risk of developing respiratory diseases such as asthma or bronchitis. This is troubling news for the dog that already has breathing or lung issues as symptoms will likely worsen.
Dogs living among smokers are also at risk of developing nose or lung cancer.
Long-nosed dog breeds have double the chance of developing cancer of the nasal passages (nose cancer), than that of short-nosed dogs. Short-nosed dogs are at a greater risk of developing lung cancer.
This is because a long snout acts as a better filter to keep harmful toxins from reaching the lungs. However, those harmful toxins then end up getting trapped inside the nose where cancer can develop. In contrast, a short snout doesn’t have the benefit of a good filter so particles have a more direct route to the lungs.
Effects on Your Dog From Thirdhand Smoke
What is thirdhand smoke, anyway? Thirdhand smoke is the residue from tobacco smoke and other chemicals that get left behind on surfaces. When smoke is mixed with common indoor pollutants a dangerous toxic cancer-causing substance may be created for all who are exposed to it.
Thirdhand smoke can cling to your hair, skin, furniture, carpets, drapes, drywall, bedding, you name it. When your dog goes about his normal activities such as sleeping on his bed, rolling playfully on the floor, or licking your skin, or his own fur he is exposed to thirdhand smoke.
To make matters worse, thirdhand smoke can linger far beyond the point at which a cigarette is put out. It can form a buildup that resists being washed away by normal every-day cleaning products. In addition, even when smoking is done outside the home, dogs are still exposed to thirdhand smoke due to toxins settling on the skin, fingernails, hair and clothing of their human owner.
Nicotine Poisoning in Dogs
A word of caution…do NOT let your dog ingest nicotine, whether it be chewing a full cigarette, cigarette butts left in an ashtray, gum with nicotine, drinking nicotine refill liquid, or any other available form of nicotine.
Nicotine is extremely toxic to dogs even in very small amounts. Fatal doses have been reported at 20 to 100 milligrams. When figuring that one cigarette can contain anywhere from 9 to 30 milligrams of nicotine you can see how it wouldn’t take much to reach a toxic dose.
If your dog ingests nicotine it is considered an emergency and you should seek immediate veterinary care. There is no antidote for nicotine poisoning in dogs, but a veterinarian can provide certain remedies to aid in a dog’s care until the nicotine has passed through his system.
Common Signs of nicotine poisoning:
- Abnormal heart rate
In addition, some nicotine gums contain an artificial sweetener ingredient called Xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. Xylitol poisoning in dogs is also considered an emergency.
Keeping Your Dog Safe From Second & Thirdhand Smoke
Although smoking outside of the home doesn’t completely prevent exposure from thirdhand smoke, it is definitely a first step in the right direction. Equally crucial is keeping your dog away from any nicotine products.
Kicking the smoking habit altogether, of course, would be optimal! (But, I have a dog blog, and am not here to judge you!)
There is far more research on the negative effects that smoke has on the human body than there is on the dog’s body. But, what little we do have can be used to our advantage to keep our pets safe and healthy.