dog on chair

Is it safe to smoke around cats and dogs?

  • Recent research suggests that passive smoking could be a health risk to pets
  • Studies have shown evidence that smoking around dogs can increase the chances of nasal cancer, and in cats lymphoma and mouth cancer
  • Pets often snuggle up or stay close to their owners when they're smoking, and spend more time lounging on carpets and furniture covered in carcinogenic particles

Passive smoking doesn’t only harm human health, it has recently been suggested that it also poses a potential danger to pets. Recent research carried out by a team at the University of Glasgow found that dogs, cats and small animals such as guinea pigs and birds could be just as much at risk from second-hand smoke as people. Other studies have shown similar findings.

So why are pets at high risk of passive smoking?

Many pets love to snuggle up with their owners or stay close, so they breathe in more smoke as a result. They usually spend more time in the house than their owners, lounging on carpets and furniture covered in carcinogenic particles. Those particles can also settle on their fur, so pets – particularly cats – can then ingest them as they groom themselves. Aside from the risks, the smell of tobacco smoke can also be unpleasant for pets as they have far more powerful senses of smell than humans. Second-hand smoke might also exacerbate conditions like bronchitis and asthma.

What are the dangers of passive smoking to dogs?

There is evidence to suggest that tobacco smoke increases the risk of nasal cancers in dogs. But not all cases of these types of cancer in dogs will be down to passive smoking. Whether you are a smoker or not, it’s important to keep your eye out for breathing difficulties or severe nasal discharge in your pet as this could be a sign of respiratory cancer, although it’s rarely the cause.

What are the dangers of passive smoking to cats?

Cats are more at risk than other pets due to self-grooming which means they can ingest the toxic particles. This, and regularly inhaling second-hand smoke, could possibly increase the risk of blood cancer lymphoma and mouth cancer.

What can I do to protect my pet if I smoke?

Not smoking around your pet is the only way to protect them completely. Smoking outdoors will help and having a cigarette in a different room will reduce the amount of smoke that they inhale, but not solve the problem as the particles will still remain on your clothes and any furniture nearby. Good ventilation to avoid smoky air stagnating is crucial and regular vacuuming of soft furnishings will also help lessen the amount of potentially dangerous particles in the home.

Is it safe to use vaporises or electronic cigarettes around pets instead?

While there have been no studies to suggest that fumes from electronic cigarettes pose any danger to pets, there is a risk of poisoning if they are ingested. The Veterinary Poisons Information Service has seen an increase in cases of electronic cigarette poisoning over the past few years, with 113 reported in 2016. The real figure is likely to be far higher. So, while electronic cigarettes are a better alternative to harmful tobacco smoke, be sure to keep them well out of the reach of pets.

— Page last updated 18/06/2018

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