We all know the hazards of smoking tobacco in humans and that even secondhand smoke has been shown to cause illness and death in non-smokers. Now, Veterinary News Network indicates there is a concern that secondhand smoke may cause severe disease in our dogs and cats. Cigarette smoke contains many harmful and carcinogenic ingredients and these chemicals are found in high concentrations on the furniture and carpeting in the homes of smokers. Pets will get these toxins on their fur and ingest them when licking their fur. Also, pet’s noses are very close to the ground and they will breathe in a lot of toxins that have settled on the carpet. Exposure to these toxins has been shown to lead to an increase in the number of dogs with nasal cancer who live with smokers in the home, and it may increase the risk of lung cancer as well.
Cats are especially susceptible to the toxins of secondhand smoke as they are very close to the floor and commonly groom themselves and ingest smoking toxins. It has been shown that cats who live in homes with smokers are two to three times more susceptible to a malignant cancer called lymphoma than cats who live in a home without smokers.
Another serious cancer with links to secondhand smoke is one of the mouth called squamous cell carcinoma, which can occur in dogs and cats.
So obviously secondhand smoke causes a major problem in our pets and the best option is to quit smoking. Of course this is difficult and if you are unable to quit and have pets and children in the house, at least smoke outside. Don’t smoke in the car if your pets and kids are with you as rolling down the window does very little to decrease secondhand smoke.
If you note any masses in your pet’s mouth, or coughing, contact your veterinarian.