It is tough to imagine how much of the smoke they inhale through second-hand and third-hand smoke. Now you may be wondering, what is third-hand smoking? Put simply, have you noticed that there is always a certain scent that is always lingering around a person that smokes? That is known as third-hand smoke.
Dr. Dilip Sonune, Director of Veterinary Services at Wiggles.in says that passive smoking is dangerous for pets and can cause serious respiratory issues. "Many pet parents smoke but don’t realize how harmful it is for pets. It can cause lung cancer, nasal cavity cancer, and breathing problems. It’s common knowledge that pets groom themselves and can ingest poisonous material and toxins. This can cause vomiting, blood in vomit and stool, lethargy, convulsions, and even multiorgan failure. I lost one of my patients, an 11-year-old lab to lung cancer. His parent used to smoke around him and over a period of time, the pet developed respiratory issues and developed fatal cancer, which led to his demise,” he said.
Cigarettes, nicotine gums and patches, e-cigarettes, and tobacco are all harmful to pets. Pets are attracted to unique smells and they may expose themselves to unnecessary dangers.
Here's how smoking affects dogs and cats.
Effect on Dogs
Dogs suffer from the smoke in the same way humans do. It can aggravate struggles if a dog breed is susceptible to respiratory issues like pugs by bringing about an additional symptom of chronic coughing.
But did you know that your dog is prone to different types of cancer depending on the length of their noses?
Dogs like Greyhounds have long noses and exposure to smoking can increase their chances of nasal cancer two-fold. This is because as they inhale, the smoke gets stuck within the filter system (hair, mucus) of their noses.
Dogs with smaller noses like pugs and spaniels may develop lung cancer as the smoke settles there.
Even if you don’t smoke in the house, they can ingest the smoke compounds by licking you since thirdhand smoke settles on the skin and fabric humans wear. It is difficult for the compounds to disappear, so you can imagine what it does to a pet.
Effects on Cats
This is for all the cat parents out there. Research shows that cats are HIGHLY PRONE of the harmful effects of smoking. Why? It’s because of a simple natural habit that they have - grooming.
Cats are known to clean themselves frequently and this means that they consume anything on their fur and skin. If the cat is in a home or near someone who smokes, then it settles on the fur. The cat is then exposed to those harmful compounds while grooming itself.
As a result, they are twice as likely to develop cancer, specifically oral squamous cell carcinoma. You can screen your cat for this cancer by checking the base of their tongue for abnormalities. The smoke compounds get stuck underneath their tongue and it causes this cancer. Only 10% of cats survive beyond a year.
Cat parents who smoke more than a pack a day, expose their cat to a higher risk of developing lymphoma, cancer that affects the cat's immune system. Research shows that cats who have this cancer only survive up to 6 months.
Signs of nicotine poisoning
Here are some of the major signs that your pet would show in case they have consumed or been exposed to too much nicotine (nicotine poisoning) -Vomiting -Drooling -Tiredness -Spikes in heart rate -Seizures
What can pet parents do?
Now that you have realized the harm smoking does to your pets, here are a few things you can do to avoid smoke particles from reaching them. -Stop Smoking: We have seen enough advertisements to know smoking is harmful to us. Think about your pet before you pick that cigarette up. If you must smoke, do it where it doesn't reach your pet. Avoid smoking in the house. -Wash up: We would suggest that you wash the body parts that come in contact with your pets, especially your hands. -Keep certain things out of sight: Keep your ashtray and cigarette butts away from your pets, as there are higher chances that they will swallow these items. Keep your vape pipes in a safe place as well. It contains a nicotine liquid that is fatal to pets.
Dr. Dilip affirms that the best way to protect your pets is to quit smoking and use of electric nicotine devices around them. “Avoid tobacco consumption in your home or car even if your pet is not present. Because the toxins settle everywhere like upholstery, carpets, and even fabric. This can lead to second/ thirdhand smoke exposure which can prove fatal,” he said.
This year, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in collaboration with WHO has set the theme for World no-tobacco day as environment-friendly behavior. Pets make up for a large part of our environment if not our entire lives. Let’s share this earth mindfully and carefully with our animals.
Team Wiggles has started an initiative called #BondedByBlood through which we are trying to create an online repository of ready pet blood donors. Register your pet today and save a life tomorrow.
*Disclaimer: This blog is vet-approved and includes original content which is compiled after thorough research and authenticity by our in-house team of vets and content experts. It is always advisable to consult a veterinarian before you try any products, pet food/treats or any kind of treatment/medicines on your pets, as each pet is unique and will respond differently.