As you may know, tomorrow is National Pet Day! And I know that you do not need me to tell you about the harmful affects that smoking can have on your own health, or even the harmful affects that second-hand smoking can have on the individuals that you live with, but it is rare that we have the opportunity to talk about the affect that tobacco use can have on the animals that live in your home.
Because our pets share our environments, they also share our environmental exposures. Second-hand smoke does affect the health of the animals that are living in the home of a smoker. Dogs living in homes with smokers have significantly higher levels of cotinine (a breakdown product of nicotine) in their blood, indicating exposure to secondhand smoke. Dogs were also more than twice as likely to develop lung cancer if a smoker lived in the home. Also, cats that live in smoking households are more than twice as likely to develop malignant lymphoma (a type of cancer) compared to cats in nonsmoking households.
Smoking outside the home reduces the concentration of environmental tobacco smoke in the house, but doesn’t eliminate it. A study found that environmental tobacco levels in homes of smokers who smoked outdoors were still five to seven times higher than in households of nonsmokers. And it’s not just the secondhand smoke that poses a risk for your pets: discarded cigarette butts or other tobacco products left within reach of pets can cause gastrointestinal problems or even nicotine toxicity if your pet finds and eats them.
If you choose to use cigarettes or e-cigarettes, please consider quitting not just for the sake of your own health, but for the health of your family and your pets. And if you choose to use these products, make sure to take extra precautions to keep your pets safe.
Multiple Authors including coalition staff, board members, and coalition members contribute to this page.