If you have pets and answer ‘Yes’ to the following question, then YOU NEED TO READ ON.
Do you or anyone else in your household smoke?
If you have pets in your household and either you, or anyone in your home regularly smoke there, then you are almost certainly harming your pet’s health, possibly even causing irreparable damage.
Your pets do not choose to smoke themselves but will they will suffer from you doing so whether you only smoke outside the property or not.
I know that you may smoke for many reasons, stress for instance can be a factor. Our pets can also suffer from some of the pressures that lead to us humans to start smoking. Like us, they can suffer from stress and you can learn about causes of stress, the signs, and some tips on how to avoid it for your dogs. (Might help you too!)
Why do we humans smoke?
There may be a variety of reasons why people smoke. Stressful jobs may lead to smoking as a way of relaxing and relieving the pressure. People want to lose weight and they think that smoking will reduce their appetite. Other addictions, troublesome relationships and hardships are all causes that lead people to start or continue smoking.
Oftentimes, younger people will sees adults smoking and think how cool it looks, so they start smoking to copy their seniors. Or close friends smoke and they don’t want to be left out of the circle. Or they want to experiment and it makes them feel accepted and maybe older and wiser.
And, just sometimes, it’s because you like the taste or smell! Trouble is, by the time we get around to thinking smoking may not be so smart, we are addicted and then it becomes a hard habit to break.
Do you smoke around your pets?
Chances are that if you do smoke at home and you have pets, you’ll subject your pets to second hand smoke. There have been many studies in the recent past which have shown that humans who don’t smoke but who are subjected to the second hand smoke of others will suffer as much harm (if not more) than the actual smoker.
We know now that studies have shown conclusively that smoking can have a detrimental affect on the health of humans. The same smoke that is ingested into the lungs of human smokers can also affect their pets and children in the same way.
There should be little doubt, even in the minds of confirmed smokers, that smoking is bad for your health and can lead to your death. Sadly, the same is true of your pets and your children.
So, if you are thinking of quitting smoking to save your own health, remember that you’ll also be improving the chances of your children and pets surviving for longer.
The US Food and Drug Administration have carried out studies which reveal how much pets can be affected by second and thirdhand smoke. A spokesperson for the FDA, Dr Carmela Stamper, a veterinary practitioner herself, warned that second hand smoke not only harms humans but also poses a threat to dogs, cats and other pets.
According to the FDA, pets are suffering from second hand smoke which is smoke in the same space they are occupying, but also from third hand smoke. Third hand smoke is so named because it’s the residue from the smoke which pollutes the air. This residue settles on clothes, skin, rugs, carpets, furniture and on the fur of animals and in particles of house dust.
So, your pets might be affected by the smoke from your cigarettes but they might also be further affected by ingesting harmful substances when licking your skin or even by grooming themselves.
Smoking most certainly affects dogs and cats but also other pets which might share the same space with human smokers such as birds, guinea pigs, rabbits and possibly even fish in tanks.
If you keep birds as pets in your home and you smoke there then your pet birds are possibly going to suffer from pneumonia, lung cancer, problems with eyes, skin and heart. Not only are they trapped in a cage but they are in danger of being poisoned to death.
What are the effects of tobacco smoke on dogs and cats?
Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) can have serious effects for both dogs and cats.
Dogs in particular can suffer from both nasal and lung cancer after lengthy exposure to second and third hand smoke. Although this may seem strange there is a logical explanation for the apparent conclusion that the length of a dog’s snout affects the type of cancer they may contract. When you consider it, there is probably a very good reason behind it.
Dogs with long noses are more likely to suffer from nasal cancer than those with short noses. The long nose is adept at filtering out the toxins in tobacco smoke and stopping them reaching the lungs thus protecting them from lung cancer but exposing them to nasal cancer. Those with short noses are not good at stopping the smoke from damaging the lungs as it passes quickly through the nasal passages. Hence they are more likely to suffer from lung cancer than dogs with long noses.
Even if dogs do not contract cancer as a result of second hand smoke they may suffer from damage to the respiratory tract and the smoke has also been linked to such ailments as chronic bronchitis and asthma.
Cats can also be badly affected by ETS. A study published in 2002 showed a much greater risk of malignant lymphoma in cats. Those living in households with ETS were 2.5 times more likely to suffer from cancer than those who lived in smoke free environments. Where cats were exposed to ETS for five or more years the risk accelerated to 3 times more likely to suffer from lymphoma’s.
The same study also suggested that there was a link between third hand smoke and oral cancer in cats. Cats are very fastidious groomers and spend many hours licking their fur to keep themselves clean. However, the carcinogenic substances in the smoke residue which attaches to their fur also can lead to damage of the tissues in their mouths. The results can be oral cancer.
If you’re a smoker and smoke in your home environment then take pity on your pets and either, give up smoking or only smoke outside the home.
Will my children and pets be OK if I smoke outside the home?
The simple answer here is that you will reduce the risk to your pets and children but not cancel it out completely.
You’ll reduce the damage that second hand smoke can do which is a significant reduction. But please remember that discarded cigarette butts outside the house can also attract children and pets if they are left lying around. So please clear all your butts and dispose of them safely.
However, a study carried out in 2005 indicated that levels of tobacco smoke in the homes of smokers who did smoke outside the house were still 5-7 times higher than in households where no one smoked.
There is also the potential damage from the toxins that may be contained in the smoke residue which you’ll carry on your clothes, skin and hair. These can detach themselves from you and settle within the home where they can be picked up by your pets and ingested through grooming.
What about e-cigarettes, vaporizers and other types of e-smoking devices?
Sadly, there is no let off there either. Although all these devices do not contain tobacco or give off smoke like normal cigarettes, pipes, cigars etc, they do contain nicotine. It is these levels of nicotine which cause significant risk to pets and children. Ordinary cartridges can contain levels of nicotine equivalent to 2-3 cigarettes and concentrated refill cartridges can contain as much as 10 times the nicotine content. Any pet ingesting the contents of a cartridge can suffer potentially fatal nicotine toxicity levels in a matter of minutes.
There are also possibly other carcinogenic substances present in these devices which may be harmful to pets and children. Some laboratory tests carried out by the FDA in 2009 revealed that some leading brands of e-cigarettes and cartridges contained levels of toxic, cancer causing chemicals, including an ingredient used in antifreeze.
If you do intend to use these devices there are a few simple rules to follow. These are:
- Continue to smoke these devices outside the home
- Don’t leave the devices lying around inside the home where your children or pets can have access to them
- If you must smoke them inside your home please ensure there is good ventilation and
- If you know or suspect that your child or pet has been exposed to the liquid then contact your doctor or vet immediately.
If second and third hand smoke is dangerous to your children and pets, then think what first hand smoke is doing to your lungs and potentially, other parts of your body. After all, you only get one body in this lifetime. If you want your life to be a long and happy one then think seriously about giving up smoking completely and forever.
It can be done and there are many ways now of helping you achieve that.
If not just for yourself, think of your children and pets who may be having their lives seriously impaired or shortened through your second or third hand smoke toxins.
If you are a smoker committed to kicking the habit, we wish you luck and you and your children and pets long life and great health.
PetMD – http://www.petmd.com/dog/wellness/can-pets-get-cancer-owners-smoking?roi=echo3-39373076436-38471335-26489bc5feba8cab00a6e4ab14f4ddb2&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=NWS_11_1_16&utm_content=NWS_Smoking
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