Secondhand Smoke Hurts Pets as Much as People

Friday, July 11, 2014 - 1:30pm
Dog looking at cigarette smoker

You know what they say: where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

A recent study by the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine underscores the link between secondhand smoke and cancer in pets. According to the study, secondhand smoke can cause lung and nasal cancer in dogs, malignant lymphoma in cats and allergy and respiratory problems in both animals.

Cats are particularly susceptible to tobacco smoke—the study found that repeated exposure to secondhand smoke doubled a cat’s chances of getting cancer, and living with a smoker for more than five years increased the risk fourfold. Lymphoma is one of the leading causes of feline death.

Though there are currently no statistics on how many pets die each year due to the effects of secondhand smoke, the CDC estimates that over 42 million adults in the United States regularly light up—which means plenty of pets are at risk. And though research is still being done on the risks of electronic cigarettes, it is worth noting that nicotine is extremely toxic to animals. E-cigarette cartridges should be disposed of with utmost care in order to prevent animal ingestion.

If you are a pet parent—especially a smoker—be on the lookout for the symptoms of cancer, which include coughing, trouble eating or breathing, drooling, weight loss, vomiting, nasal discharge, bleeding, and sneezing.

The ASPCA strongly urges pet parents to designate their homes as smoke-free areas. Either set up a smoking space outdoors, or, even better, quit the habit altogether (after all, it’s bad for humans, too). 

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