If you want healthier cats, dogs and birds a new study recommends that you kick the tobacco habit. Or at least, stop smoking in your home.
It is well documented that secondhand smoke causes health problems such as asthma, heart disease, cancer and strokes in humans. Living with a smoker contributes to nearly 50,000 deaths of adult nonsmokers in the United States every year. And now there is mounting evidence that secondhand smoke affects a pet’s health as well.
The Henry Ford Health System took this information and developed a survey asking nearly 3,300 pet owners if they would stop smoking if they knew it hurt their pets. The results of the survey were printed in the Tobacco Control journal this week.
The researchers discovered that one in five of the pet owners surveyed were smokers. They explained how cats are more prone to asthma when they live with a smoker and how both cats and dogs get sick more often from lung and other cancers. Even birds show a link between lung and heart problems when they are exposed to tobacco smoke.
The reason for the connection between pets and secondhand smoke seems to be in part because pets lie close to their owners while they smoke and because the exhaled smoke lands in their fur and coats.
The survey results found that one in three of the smokers were very motivated to “kick the habit” for their furry and feathery roommates. And one in five of them said they would at least ban the habit from their homes.
Because of the results, there are now plans for a new education campaign for the public. Sharon Milberger from the Henry Ford Health System said to CNN.com, “Clearly people love their pets. This may be a way to reach them.”
The Henry Ford Health System is currently conducting a follow-up study that follows pet owners who smoke to see if this new information actually changes their behavior. “We’ll have to get a better sense of how this information could motivate people, but it potentially could be a way to target smokers from a new angle,” says Milberger.
When veterinarians were told about the results most, like George Korin DVM were not surprised. He told CNN.com, “People are very motivated to help their pets. They will do just about anything to safeguard their animals’ health.”
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