Secondhand Smoke Also Bad For Pets

By: Pam Wiese Email
By: Pam Wiese Email

Smoking not only affects the smoker but those around them and that includes pets. The Nebraska Humane Society says secondhand smoke can lead to major health problems in animals.

Dogs, cats, birds and even pocket pets can all be hurt by tobacco smoke. Your pet breathes the same air you do, so chances are if you're smoking or breathing secondhand smoke they are as well. In fact, cancer causing agents can be found in pet hair and urine months after being around secondhand smoke. So pets living with smokers are more likely to get cancer than those who live smoke-free.

Dogs with shorter noses like boxers have the highest risk of lung cancer. Dogs with longer noses like greyhounds have a higher risk of nasal cancer. Dogs can have skin reactions often mistaken for flea or food allergies that can cause them to chew or scratch their skin.

Cats in smoking households are three times as likely to develop deadline feline lymphoma. Many have higher rates of oral cancer. Experts think that because chemicals from secondhand smoke permeate the cat's fur that when the cat grooms they get a large dose of smoke chemicals in her mouth. It may also contribute to breathing problems, lung inflammation and asthma.

Birds are especially vulnerable to airborne toxins so secondhand smoke can cause eye problems and respiratory problems like coughing and wheezing. If a bird is handled by someone who smokes they can get contact dermatitis from the nicotine on hands. This can cause birds to pull out their feathers.

Nicotine is so toxic that if a puppy, kitten or curious pocket pet eats cigarette butts, cigars, smokeless tobacco or nicotine gum or patches, they can get very sick.

The American Lung Association is offering a free seminar on secondhand smoke and pets at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Nebraska Humane Society, 8929 Fort Street in Omaha. The NHS is open weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can always look up animals and find information at nehumanesociety.org.


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