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Is Secondhand Smoke Harming Our Pets?
adverse effects of secondhand smoke in people has been documented and
researched for years. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC),
ear infections, frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory symptoms,
and an increased risk for SIDS can all result from secondhand smoke in
children. Secondhand smoke also significantly increases the risk of
heart disease and lung cancer to nonsmoker adults (CDC). However, do our
pets suffer the same or any side effects as a result of secondhand smoke?
Pets that live in a smoke filled environment are exposed to hundreds of toxic chemicals. Several
veterinary teaching universities in the country have been researching
the effects of secondhand smoke in dogs and cats for many years.A 2008
Tufts University study reported a significantly higher amount of
urinarycotinine, a metabolite of nicotine, in dogs exposed to household
smoking in the24 hours prior to urine collection. This demonstrates that
dogs are metabolizing nicotine from secondhand smoke. A higher incidence
of developing respiratory tumors in dogs living in smoke filled
environments has also been documented (Colorado State University). Dogs
with longer noses were more likely to develop nasal tumors while short to
medium nosed dogs had a higher rate of lung cancer. This is thought to
be related to the surface area of the nasal passages. Toxins from
secondhand smoke are able to accumulate in higher amountsin the nasal
passages of long nosed breeds and therefore less toxins travel to the
lungs as compared to shorter nosed breeds.
or cancer of the lymph nodes, has been positively linked to cats exposed
to environmental tobacco smoke (Tufts University). It also appears that
both duration of exposure and quantity of exposure increases the risk of
this disease. The incidence of
lymphoma in cats becomes even greater in cats living in smoke filled
environments for 5 or more years compared to those in nonsmoking
environments.Cancer of the mouth has also been linked to smoke filled
environments. This is most likely due to a cat’s diligent grooming
habits. Toxins from tobacco smoke settle on the cat’s fur which is then
ingested while grooming.
addition to the above often deadly cancers, passive inhalation of smoke
by our pets likely results in similar inflammatory changes to the lungs
as compared to people. This can led to increased respiratory problems
including allergies and bronchitis. These problems can be a life long and
chronic struggle for many pets.
Current research clearly demonstrates the link of several pet diseases to the exposure of secondhand smoke. It is likely that more pet diseases will be linked to secondhand smoke as more studies are performed. The only way to ensure your pet does not suffer from the side effects of passive tobacco smoke inhalation, is to keep them out of those environments.
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