Second-hand smoke (also known as ETS or environmental tobacco smoke) comes from anything that is smoked: cigarettes, cigars and pipes. Second-hand smoke is a carcinogen that can cause cancer in both dogs and cats. Dogs that live with smokers in a building that is not well ventilated have a higher risk of not only lung cancer but nasal cancer as well. Dogs with short noses like Pugs, French and English Bulldogs and Boxers are susceptible to lung cancer, while dogs with long noses like Afghans, Collies and Labrador Retrievers are susceptible to nasal cancer. The difference is where the carcinogens accumulate in a dog’s body.
Second-hand smoke can also be associated with cardiovascular and respiratory disease, chronic lung infections, asthma, and eye problems. ETS has been extensively researched where humans are concerned, but not as many studies have been done for our companion animals. Studies have shown that tobacco smoke contains up to twenty different carcinogens which can be inhaled by non-smoking bystanders. ETS consists of the smoke released by a burning cigar, cigarette or pipe as well as the smoke exhaled by the smoker themselves. There are over 4,000 chemicals contained in second-hand smoke including arsenic, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, nickel, benzene, chromium and vinyl chloride.
If you are not ready to quit smoking, or are having a hard time accomplishing it, there are several things you can do to help minimize the dangers to your pet. Using air purifiers around the house and air filters on your furnace will help but not alleviate the problem as it takes so long for ETS to clear. Consider smoking outside the house, or make a smoke-free room or two in your house where your pet can go to get away from the smoke.
If it is too cold for you to smoke outside, choose a room to smoke in that can be shut off from the rest of the house. Crack a window in your “smoking room” while you are smoking to help vent the ETS from the house faster. Another important way to help your pet is to brush and groom them regularly; this can remove the smoke residue that collects on their coat. They clean themselves with their tongues and can ingest the toxins as they are grooming their coats. Your veterinarian may suggest an anti-oxidant to minimize the cancer causing effects. If you are concerned and want to learn more about the dangers of second-hand smoke to pets, give your veterinarian a call.
Read more articles by Ruthie Bently
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