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It’s World animal day today! It's time to ask: is secondhand smoke harmful to your pet?

Did you know that cigarettes are not only dangerous for humans? Our pets are particularly susceptible to them as well.

A boy with his little dog

2021/09/30

This October 4th, on the World Animal Day, Kwit wanted to talk about the effects of secondhand smoke on pets. Despite the lack of knowledge about this subject, studies show that pets whose owners smoke are more than twice as likely to develop a serious disease! . This article explains how to deal with this issue and gives you a couple solutions.

Before diving into more detail, here is an important tip. If your pet has a dry, persistent cough, or if you suspect that your pet has ingested tobacco, take him/her immediately to your veterinarian.

World Animal Day, an opportunity to highlight the harmful effects of tobacco on pets

As you undoubtedly know, smoking is harmful to smokers as well as to those around them, notably through passive smoking. But did you know that animals are also particularly susceptible to tobacco? On this World Animal Day, we tell you about it!

Inhaled cigarette smoke increases risk of developing cancer or lung disease, as well as asthma. Accidental ingestion of tobacco or its toxic substances can cause heart abnormalities, digestive problems, and even nicotine poisoning.

In addition to being exposed to secondhand smoke from their owners, pets are also subject to thirdhand smoke, which refers to nicotine and other chemicals left in indoor surfaces, like textiles, furniture, walls, and in their case, their coats.

How smoking affects most common pets

Smoking does impact all animals, but not all pets are affected the same way.

Cats, are particularly vulnerable to smoke

According to a University of Glasgow study, cats are among the most sensitive to cigarettes and passive smoking. They have a higher risk of :

  • Oral cancer due to toxic particles in cigarette smoke.
  • Lymphoma due to exposure to passive smoking.

Toxic particles in smoke are deposited on the coats of animals. This is a problem, especially for pets that groom themselves a lot, such as cats. Exposure to these 7,000 substances increases their risk of developing oral cancer by two to four times.

Furthermore, a other study suggests that cats are about two to three times more likely to develop lymphoma when they live in a smoking environment. This risk increases with the amount of time they are exposed to secondhand smoke.

Smoke dangers for dogs

Dogs are also vulnerable to cigarette smoke exposure. Risks vary depending on:

  • Breed, and size of muzzle.
  • Whether or not they are neutered.
  • Genetic mutations caused by passive smoking.

Their muzzle works a bit like a mask, or an air filter. The longer it is, the more it acts as a barrier to toxic substances, preventing them from clogging the lungs. But on the flip side, the risk of developing muzzle (or sinus) cancer is higher for long-snouted dogs. It is the opposite for those with shorter snouts; the muzzle works less like an air filter. Therefore, toxic particles are quickly deposited in the lungs, increasing cancer risk in this area.

In addition to the size of the muzzle, other factors affect man's best friend —dogs. It is common knowledge that smoking increases the average number of mutations in the cells of our body. The same phenomenon occurs with our pet friends, especially with canines. According to the previously mentioned study conducted by researchers in Glasgow, this risk would be accentuated for neutered dogs whose owners smoke inside the home. The researchers have indeed found in dogs an altered gene, which predisposes to certain types of cancers.

World Animal Day, an opportunity to talk about the dangers of smoking for all pets

Dogs and cats are among the most common pets in our homes. But they are far from being the only ones affected by cigarettes and tobacco. Birds, rodents and fish, to name a few, are also affected.

Birds are susceptible to air quality degradation caused by smoking. Passive smoking increases their risks of developing many diseases.

For fishes, it is nicotine that is the most problematic. Nicotine is indeed very soluble in water, thus disturbing their environment.

2 happy dogs galloping

How to protect animals from passive smoking?

We love our pets and we care about their well-being, so it is natural to wonder how to protect them and keep them healthy. Here in Kwit, to celebrate this World Animal Day, we have decided to give you some ideas to improve their living environment.

Vape to preserve the health of our pets

Most risks pets are exposed to are related to the toxic substances of cigarettes. Since nicotine, the addictive substance of tobacco, is not dangerous in itself, one could believe that switching to vape is the ideal solution to preserve the health of our pets. Well, the truth is that it isn't.

Nicotine, especially if ingested, is also dangerous for animals. The risks differ depending on the species, but many cases of nicotine poisoning have been reported, notably in dogs. Whether you smoke or vape, or even if you keep your butts and e-liquid bottles away from your pets.

Smoking outside to limit our pets' exposure to tobacco

The safest option for smokers living with pets is to smoke outside, without the animals being nearby. The less they are exposed to cigarettes, the less risk they run.

But beware: animals are also sensitive to thirdhand tobacco smoke. This means the particles that are transferred to our hands, clothes, furniture and even their coats can endanger them. So before petting them, it's essential to wash your hands thoroughly, even more so, if you've just smoked.

Finally, the Glasgow study shows that if you smoke less than ten cigarettes a day indoors, the level of nicotine in pet coats significantly decreases. This reduction is even more significant with zero cigarette consumption indoors. So, after all, we can protect our pets!

Quit Smoking for World Animal Day!

Quitting smoking is the best way to keep your pets healthy. So, how about celebrating World Animal Day by giving them a gift for their health?

Many former smokers have already taken the plunge, quitting to protect their pets! For 28.4% of American smokers, this would indeed be a good reason to say goodbye to cigarettes.

Plus, quitting smoking for your pet will save you money in more than one way:

  • You will no longer spend money on cigarettes.
  • As the health risk to your pets decreases, you will save money on your veterinary bills.
  • Your health will also improve, thus, reducing your own medical expenses.

Unfortunately, animals can't talk to tell us what's wrong with them. Therefore, it's up to us to anticipate their needs to allow them to live in the healthiest environment possible. World Animal Day on October 4th, is the perfect occasion to question ourselves about this subject and to come up with ideas to improve pets’ living conditions!

Did this article encourage you to try to quit smoking? Kwit, our quit smoking application. It was designed to provide support and help you through the cessation process. Try it out! Download it for free now!

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