The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released a report detailing the many dangers of second- and thirdhand smoke to our dogs, cats, and other pets. You may know that secondhand smoke is when someone other than the smoker inhales tobacco smoke. But did you know that so-called thirdhand smoke is a particular danger to pets? Thirdhand smoke is toxic residue that gets on your clothes, furniture, carpets…and your pet’s fur or feathers.
If you smoke in the house around your pets, or even in the car and then drive with your dog, you are exposing your pets to the toxic chemicals that are the components of cigarette smoke. What are the particular dangers to specific kinds of pets? Here’s a summary…be sure to check the FDA website for the full story.
Dogs: Your dog’s nose acts like a filter, designed to stop harmful particles from reaching the lungs. The bigger the nose, the more toxins collect there. That’s why long-nosed dog breeds (like Greyhounds) that are expose to smoke are at double the risk of cancer of the nose than other dogs. On the other hand, short-nosed dogs like Pugs have an increased risk of lung cancer because more particles get to the lungs.
Cats: Because cats groom themselves by licking their fur, they are at increased risk of developing certain kinds of cancers from thirdhand smoke residue that attaches to their fur and then gets swallowed. These cancers include squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth and tongue, and lymphoma. Cats exposed to heavy smoking are three times more likely to develop lymphoma than other cats.
Birds: Birds are very sensitive to toxins in the air, which is why experts recommend keeping them out of the kitchen when cooking. Birds are negatively affected by inhaling secondhand smoke, and like cats, groom their feathers, which increases their exposure to thirdhand smoke residue. They can get allergies, pneumonia, and lung cancer.
Guinea pigs: Studies have shown that pocket pets like guinea pigs that are exposed to smoke can develop changes in their lungs, emphysema, high blood pressure, and weight loss.
Fish: Being in water does not protect fish from the dangers of smoking. Nicotine is easily dissolvable in water and is toxic to fish. High levels of nicotine exposure can cause muscle spasms, rigidity, and even death in fish.
Besides not smoking near your pets or in any environment your pets may enter, you should also make sure to keep cigarettes and e-cigarettes away from your pets to prevent accidental ingestion.