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Is Secondhand Smoke Harming Our Pets?

The 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.

Lymphoma, 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.

In 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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21503 S. State Highway 29 Middletown, CA 95461

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