Do You or Someone in Your House Smoke? It May Be Making Your Pet Sick

Pets may ingest smoke residue from breathing and licking smokers' hair, skin, and clothing

Do You or Someone in Your House Smoke? It May Be Making Your Pet Sick
Image: Pexels
December 6, 2016

Most smokers know about the dangers posed to their health by the habit. But how may it affect their pets?

According to Carmela Stamper, D.V.M., veterinarian for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it can do a great deal of harm.

"Smoking's not only harmful to people; it's harmful to pets, too," Stamper said. "If 58 million non-smoking adults and children are exposed to tobacco smoke, imagine how many pets are exposed at the same time."

Pets are hurt by both secondhand smoke—which lingers in the air—and third-hand smoke. What is third-hand smoke? It is defined as residue (harmful compounds left behind after smoking, such as nicotine) that can get onto skin, clothing, furniture, carpets, and other items in a smoker's home.

"Like children, dogs and cats spend a lot of time on or near the floor, where tobacco smoke residue concentrates in house dust, carpets and rugs. Then, it gets on their fur," Stamper said. "Dogs, cats and children not only breathe these harmful substances in, but pets can also ingest them by licking their owner's hair, skin, and clothes."

In addition, said Stamper, your pet also ingests the residue from grooming itself or another animal.

There are several facts about pets and smoking that might surprise you. Did you know:

  • That the length of a dog's nose determines how tobacco smoke affects it?
  • That certain dog breeds have a higher risk of nose or lung cancer?
  • That cats living with people who smoke more than one pack of cigarettes per day are at three times the risk of developing lymphoma, an immune system cancer?
  • That smoking can also endanger birds, guinea pigs, and even fish?