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The Impact of Secondhand Smoke on Household Pets

Pets have no choice when it comes to living with secondhand smoke. They simply must deal with the consequences when one or more members of their human family have the habit. Unfortunately, that means breathing in toxic air and having an increased risk of serious health conditions like asthma, lung cancer, and heart disease.

How Tobacco Smoke Affects Cats and Dogs                                  

Cats who live with a smoker are three times as likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma or lymphoma. This is easy to understand when you consider that cats are meticulous groomers. As they lick their fur, they're unknowingly bringing carcinogens into their system. That's because cigarettes release toxins into the air that land on a cat's fur. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is also more common among cats exposed to secondhand smoke. Its typical symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing.

Dogs are much more likely than cats to attempt to eat cigarette butts from an ashtray or even chew up a full, unsmoked pack. Along with their natural curiosity, the smell of menthol in some cigarettes attracts their attention. You should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian immediately if it appears that your dog has swallowed any portion of a cigarette. Some of the symptoms you might notice include:

  • Lack of coordination
  • General weakness
  • Fast or slow heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors

Secondhand smoke affects all breeds of dogs. However, it causes varying effects depending on the dog's nose size. Breeds with short noses develop lung cancer most often while those with longer noses receive a diagnosis of nasal cancer more often. Bronchitis is also common among all dogs who live with secondhand smoke. Consistently breathing in tobacco smoke can even be hard on your pet's teeth.

Kick the Habit to Increase Longevity for You and Your Pet

If you want to quit smoking but need resources and support, visit the tobacco cessation page published by the Centers for Disease Control. Your pet might not be able to say thank you but seeing his or her improved quality of life will be worth the effort. Your own health benefits and those of other people in your home are powerful motivators to quit smoking as well.

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