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Secondhand Smoke Harms Pets

Secondhand Smoke Harms Pets

Did you know that smoking in your home can kill your indoor pets? Dogs, cats and birds have shown to be affected. Research from Colorado State University has found that secondhand tobacco smoke has a clear effect on dogs and their chance of disease. One study shows that the more members of a household who smoke, the higher their dogs’ risk of developing certain kinds of cancer. It’s such a direct connection that dogs with long noses are at an even greater risk of developing certain nasal and sinus cancer, as they expose more tissue to the carcinogens when they inhale. Short and medium-nosed dogs are more susceptible to lung cancer, as the carcinogens more quickly pass the nose and settle in the lungs.

Likewise, a study done at Tufts College of Veterinary Medicine found that cats exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased chance of developing a type of oral cancer that smoker’s often fall victim to–squamous cell carcinoma. It is suspected that because of the grooming behavior of cats, they expose the mucous membranes of their mouth to the cancer-causing chemicals. Cats living with smokers are also twice as likely to develop malignant lymphoma, a cancer that occurs in the lymph nodes and that is fatal to three out of four cats within 12 months of developing it.

Anyone with a pet bird knows to avoid using Teflon-coated pans because of birds’ sensitive respiratory systems–so it’s no surprise that birds are also at risk for lung cancer, as well as pneumonia, from secondhand smoke.

Of the 5,000 chemicals identified in tobacco smoke, public health authorities have classified between 45 and 70 of those chemicals (including carcinogens, irritants and other toxins) as potentially causing the harmful effects of tobacco use. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 126 million Americans who don’t smoke are exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes, vehicles, workplaces, and public places. This exposure causes thousands of lung cancer and heart disease deaths among nonsmokers every year, according to the California Environmental Protection Agency. Now, we can add pets to this sad set of statistics.

Read more: General Health, Health, Pets, Safety, ,

By Melissa Breyer, Senior Editor, Healthy & Green Living

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


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12:22AM PDT on May 28, 2013

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1:30AM PDT on Mar 21, 2013

I pray for the innocent animals in those homes with toxic air.

How can so many think that smoking is a choice and that they should be allowed to do whateve they want? If you doing what you want and the choices that you make cause someone else to physically suffer or even die, then you shouldn't be allowed to do it. You are violating the rights of others. Their safety should trump your vice. Their health is more important than you sucking on a cancer-stick.

7:52AM PST on Mar 2, 2013

Why on earth do people smoke?!

1:09PM PDT on Sep 16, 2012

It's so selfish to smoke around people or pets. I'm never in smoke these days as smoking is banned from public places and no-one is allowed to smoke in my home. It affects my asthma if I'm in smoke. My children were never in smoke, and now that they're grown all 3 are against smoking. My Dad died in January with emphysema caused by years of smoking even though he gave up 13 years before he died, the damage was done. And yes, smoking definitely does harm our pets too.

5:33PM PDT on Sep 15, 2012

Well that's a no brainer! If it harms people guess what folks it's harming your pets as well. Get help and stop smoking (and this comes from a reformed smoker).

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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