6 min read

Is Smoking Around Your Pets Bad For Them?

Secondhand smoke can affect everyone in the household 🐶🐱🐰🐹

There’s no denying that our pets are members of the family, and can change the way we live our lives. Owning a dog or cat can alter our schedule, our daily habits — even our physical and emotional well-being.

Now it appears our habits can influence their health just as much.

According to a recent study out of the University of Glasgow in Scotland, the more you smoke at home, the more nicotine and carcinogens get trapped in your cat’s fur — and this can be a serious problem.

Research going back to the 1990s has linked tobacco and secondhand smoke with a number of serious health issues in dogs and cats, similar to humans. Dogs and cats, as well as birds, guinea pigs, rabbits and other small pets, who live in households with smokers can suffer from a heightened risk of cancer and other negative side effects, including lymphoma and weight gain, as well as skin and respiratory infections, according to The Royal College of Nurses.

“We do know that there are dangers associated with secondhand tobacco smoke in the case of dogs and cats, much like we have found with humans,” Dr. Robert Proietto, a veterinarian in New York City, tells The Dodo. “There have been studies that have shown an association of increased risk of lung cancer and bronchitis (inflammation of airway) in dogs and cats.”

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The grooming habits of cats can make them even more susceptible to the adverse effects of passive smoking. “Many of the carcinogens from the smoke settle into fabrics around the household or the owners’ clothes,” Proietto explains. “The pets often lick these fabrics or their own fur after laying on these surfaces and ingest the carcinogens, so they are breathing in carcinogens as well as being exposed orally.”  

This can lead to issues with cats’ mouths, lymph nodes and digestion. “There has been an association found with oral tumors (squamous cell carcinoma) and lymphoma in cats. There have even been some associations between bladder disease and atopic dermatitis associated with tobacco smoke,” Proietto says. If ingested in large amounts, nicotine can be toxic to pets, so dogs and cats should be kept far away from chewing tobacco, nicotine gum and patches, cigarettes and cigars.

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So how do you keep your pets healthy and safe from the risks associated with passive smoking?

It may not be surprising, but the best solution for both human and animal is to quit smoking. “We see a large number of pets who live in households that smoke and I do not see any symptoms of dependence or withdrawal from it,” Proietto adds.

If quitting is not feasible at this time, take precautions to minimize your pet’s intake. “Treat your pets like your young children,” Proietto recommends. “If you smoke, smoke outside where the smoke can easily dissipate and try to keep your clothing away from the pets to prevent any exposure to carcinogens once inside. You should never smoke in the car with your pets.”

We all want the best for our pets, and that means a healthy living environment and plenty of loving snuggles.