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Second-Hand Smoke Around Pets

Editor's Note: This is a guest post on the Grey Matters Blog and not written by anyone affiliated with Grey Muzzle. We allow guest contributors from time to time in order to provide our supporters with a wide range of topics pertaining to senior dogs.


If you’re a smoker, you’ve probably considered the effect that your habit has on your family and loved ones. However, you may never have thought about the effect that second-hand smoke may have on your pets. Yet, if you live with cats, dogs or other animals inside your home, you could find that the smoke that your furry friends are breathing in could be causing them problems.

Why Does Cigarette Smoke Affect My Pets?

If you’re a smoker and smoke inside your home, even if you ensure the doors and windows are fully open, you’ll find that smoke will still spread around the property. Around 80% of all tobacco smoke is odorless and invisible, so it’s hard to tell just how far it has spread. Smoke contains more than five thousands different chemicals, a lot of which have been proven to be toxic not only to humans but to animals too, and these harmful substances build up on clothes, surfaces and even your pet’s fur.

Recent research has revealed that cats and dogs may be exposed to a significant amount of second-hand smoke if they live in a household that contains a smoker. Cats may be more affected than dogs since toxic particles of smoke settle on their fur and can be swallowed when you pet grooms himself.

Birds, too, have a very sensitive respiratory tract. This means they find smoke extremely distressing. Meanwhile, the toxins found in smoke dissolve in your fish tank and can affect its occupants. Other pets such as hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits living in the home are also at risk from second-hand cigarette smoke.

It’s important to take care with ashtrays when you have pets at home. Cigarette butts present a risk to your cats and dogs because of the toxins and heavy metals that are found in cigarettes. If your pet accidentally eats one, they could become sick.

All animals are sensitive to nicotine. Therefore, if you’re trying to give up smoking you need to also take care that your nicotine replacement gum, patches, inhalers and e-cigarettes are kept safely out of reach of your pets.

How Can Passive Smoking Impact On My Pet?

Pets suffer from many conditions that affect humans too due to passive smoking:

  • The toxins found in cigarette smoke may damage your pet’s cells putting them at a higher risk of developing certain cancers like mouth cancer, nose cancer, lung cancer and lymphoma.
  • Smoke also causes breathing difficulties and worsens existing breathing issues.
  • Smoke also causes other problems such as weight gain.

How Can I Reduce The Risks Of Second Hand Smoke For My Pet?

Many pet owners simply don’t realize that their smoking could affect their pets. Once they recognize that passive smoking could harm their furry companion, they often choose to go out of the home to smoke to reduce exposure to those harmful chemicals. There are some other ways in which the risks can be reduced too:

  • Don’t leave ashtrays and cigarette butts in easy reach of pets
  • Make sure to wash your hands well after smoking
  • Regularly steam and clean your carpets to reduce the number of toxic particles collecting inside your home

While its possible to reduce your pet’s exposure to cigarette smoking, it’s clear that giving up the habit completely is the very best way to improve your pet’s well-being and health.

Could Vaping Hurt My Pet?

Like cigarettes, the majority of vape juices contain nicotine. Some vape liquids even contain more nicotine than a regular cigarette. Since nicotine is toxic to pets, you need to ensure that all of your vaping equipment is kept well away from your furry friend.

The primary risk that vaping presents to pets is the e-liquid itself. This is very dangerous since even small amounts of e-juice could kill an animal. Pets may chew e-cigarettes and even a tiny crack in the glass cartridge could put your cat or dog at risk of harm from the e-juice. Also, pets may swallow components of the e-cig or its battery.

Since e-cigarettes are tempting for pets because they have interesting smells and flavors, it’s important to put some extra effort into keeping your animals safe:

  • Avoid vaping in the same room as your pet. It’s best to vape outdoors whenever possible.
  • Ventilate any rooms in which you vape thoroughly before you allow your pet to enter the space.
  • Avoid keeping your e-cigarette or vape in the room along with your pet to prevent them from getting to it.
  • Avoid putting empty vape cartridges in the bin where a bored dog could find it.

Should you believe your pet has swallowed e-liquid or part of an e-cigarette, you should take them straight to the vet since it could be an emergency situation.

About the Contributor: Elen is a passionate dog owner located in UK. She is committed to raising awareness around how we can improve the health of our pets.