FDA Warns of Dangers to Pets from Secondhand–and Thirdhand–Smoke

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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Hope for Animals: New Animal Protection Legislation in U.S. States

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The Humane Society of the United States has summarized some positive animal welfare news on its blog, A Humane Nation. Several U.S. states have passed some encouraging animal protection legislation this year…a bit of good news for all of the animals who live among us.

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Massachusetts: 78% of voters approved an anti-factory farming ballot measure that stops the extreme confinement of egg-laying hens, breeding sows, and veal calves. The measure also says that eggs, pork, and veal sold in the state must conform to the humane standards, regardless of where the food came from.

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Oregon: 70% of voters approved a measure to restrict the interstate trafficking of ivory, rhino horns, and the body parts of 10 other wildlife species endangered by trafficking.

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Oklahoma: A measure (supported by powerful agricultural interests) to amend the state constitution to ban future limitations on the “conduct of agriculture” in the state was rejected by voters by over 60%.

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California: Voters affirmed a statewide ban on the sale of plastic bags, harmful to many species of wildlife, particularly in the ocean.

 

Tips on Helping Baby Wildlife

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You’re going for a walk in the woods and you come across a nest of baby birds or baby squirrels that fell out of a tree. Or maybe you find that a fox or coyote has killed a rabbit and you discover her nest of orphaned babies. Spring is a common time to find baby wildlife in need of assistance. How do you know what to do when you come across baby animals that look like they might need rescuing?

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Here are a few common sense tips from Project Wildlife, part of the San Diego Humane Society:

  • Don’t try to force a baby bird or mammal to eat or drink water. The little guy may be too stressed for its delicate digestive system to properly process it.
  • If you take in injured or abandoned wildlife (baby or adult), be sure to place the animal in a warm, dark, and quiet place until it can be taken to a wildlife rescue center.

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  • It may be appealing, but you should never attempt to raise orphaned baby wildlife on your own as a pet. Even experienced dog and cat owners do not have the knowledge to properly care for wild animals.
  • Be careful when doing yardwork like clearing brush or mowing grass…you may disturb an animal’s nest. Put off tree trimming during bird nesting season to keep nestlings safe.

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  • Don’t be in too much of a rush to rescue baby animals you assume are orphaned. Keep an eye on the babies from a safe distance for a while before taking action. Often the mother may be nearby, waiting for you to leave the area before she goes over to them.

To learn more about helping baby wildlife this spring, check out Project Wildlife’s website for great tips and information!

 

January is Adopt a Rescued Bird Month

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Did you know that there are thousands of pet birds at shelters and rescue organizations just waiting for someone to come along and adopt them into their new forever homes? January is Adopt a Rescued Bird Month, designed to raise awareness about the need to rehome birds that have been surrendered to shelters and rescue groups.

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If you’re thinking about adopting a bird, but have never owned a bird before, Petfinder has some important advice for potential adopters to keep in mind. Here are a few tips:

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Make sure your space can accommodate a cage large enough for a bird to comfortably move around and stretch his wings. Experts also recommend the bird have access to an enclosed room where it can fly around safely.

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Interested in a talking bird? You can look into adopting an Amazon or African Gray parrot, but keep in mind that it takes time and patience to develop a relationship with the bird and teach it to talk.

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Smaller birds can often require less maintenance than larger birds. Consider parakeets, lovebirds, finches, and canaries if you are a novice bird owner.

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Remember that some birds can have very long lifespans. While many birds live for around 8 years, there are also birds that live between 30 and 50 years…or even longer! Adopting a bird is truly a lifetime commitment.

 

You can do a bird-specific search on petfinder.com to find adoptable birds in your area.