How second-hand smoke hurts pets


February 22, 2016

If a person smokes, Fido and Fluffy smoke.


Secondhand smoke hurts our furry and feathered friends’ health.

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation explains the problems animals suffer when they’re regularly breathing in their owners’ cigarette smoke:

  • Cats are more than twice as likely to develop malignant lymphoma, a cancer, than cats in nonsmoking homes. Cats with five or more years of smoke exposure were more than three times as likely to get this type of cancer than cats in nonsmoking homes.
  • Dogs exposed to tobacco smoke have a higher risk than dogs in nonsmoking homes of cancer in the nasal cavity and sinuses. The risk is especially high in dogs with long snouts (for example, collies and greyhounds). The more the owner smokes, the higher the dog’s risk of cancer. This is probably because cancer-causing toxins build up in their long nasal passages. Dogs with short- and medium-length noses are more than twice as likely to develop lung cancer if they live with a smoker, probably because shorter-length nasal passages don’t accumulate the toxins, letting them enter the dog’s lungs instead.
  • Birds’ respiratory systems are very sensitive to toxins in the air. Birds exposed to smoke can develop pneumonia, lung cancer and problems with their eyes, skin, heart and fertility.

Going outside to smoke is better than smoking indoors where your pets live, but it doesn’t prevent pets from developing health problems from secondhand smoke. Tobacco levels in the homes of outdoor smokers are still up to seven times higher than in homes where nobody smokes at all, according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. Finally, the organization points out that if pets eat tobacco products or discarded cigarette butts, they can suffer nicotine poisoning or gastrointestinal problems.


The patch and other medications are designed to help you quit. My Southern Health offers information about these meds and everything else you need to know to quit smoking.