Americans sure love their pets with about two-thirds of us owning one. Dogs and cats are the most popular choices, but fish, birds, small rodents such as hamsters, gerbils and mice, make up the top five spots. But one thing all these pets have in common is they could be harmed from breathing in your secondhand smoke or vaper and being around surfaces with thirdhand smoke.
We know smoking and breathing in the toxic smoke hurts humans, and your air breathing pets could get cancer and have their health harmed. Cats are more prone to mouth cancer, while nasal cancer could affect dogs. Even birds could get lung cancer or suffer from pneumonia. If you vape, most liquids contain nicotine, a poison, which can be dangerous or even fatal if your pet consumes it. The exhaled vapor also contains nicotine and can harm your pet.
The smoke and toxins in the air also land on surfaces such as their bedding, furniture and the floor. This is known as thirdhand smoke and has the same toxins as you find in secondhand smoke. The difference is as you smoke in the same room or area, the toxins build up, becoming more toxic. Cats lay on various surfaces, having these toxin deposited on their fur. Their grooming habits of licking their fur puts the cancer-causing toxins into their mouth. Felines living with smokers have a higher rate of mouth cancers (squamous cell carcinoma) versus those living in a smoke-free environment. Cancer of the lymph modes, called malignant lymphoma, is also a possibility and “is fatal to three out of four cats within 12 months of developing it.”
Long-nosed dog breeds living in a smoking household can develop cancers of the nose and sinus area, because the smoke has more surface area exposed to the toxins. If they are affected with nasal cancer, survival is usually not more than a year. Dogs with shorter noses are more likely to develop lung cancer.
It is best if you quit smoking to protect your family and your pets. If you continue to smoke, do so outdoors, away from the living area. When you are finished, dispose of the tobacco product in a container your pet cannot access and wash your hands before petting or handling your pets. Even exposure to smoke on your clothes could cause your pets to develop asthma, respiratory problems, and allergies.
Many of us treat our pets like family. Let’s do everything we can to protect our smallest members who cannot protect themselves.