Dog Health, The Paw Pack

How Smoking Affects Your Pets

February 5, 2021

smoke pets

If any smokers out there are looking for motivation to stop smoking, look no further than your furry friend.  Exposure to second hand smoke, and third hand (or environmental tobacco smoke), can be downright deadly for pets.  The affects of cigarette exposure are pretty common knowledge.  It may seem like common sense that it is just as unhealthy for animals as it is for people.

Did you know that exposure to third hand/environmental smoke, or consuming old cigarette butts, can be just as deadly to pets as inhaling the smoke?  The type of cancers that pets are more prone to developing from exposure to tobacco smoke can depend on their anatomy.  It may be common to consider the health risks that smoking imposes on more common pets, such as cats and dogs.  It’s important to remember that it can negatively impact the health of all types of animals, even the smallest of caged pets.

Many Studies Have Scientifically Demonstrated the Impacts That Exposure to Smoke Can Have On Pets…

A study done at Tufts University in 2002 concluded that cats who live with smokers develop malignant lymphoma twice as often as cats who live in non-smoking homes.  Another study done at Tufts in 2007 linked oral cancer in cats to second hand smoke.  The study showed that cats who were exposed to second hand smoke for five years or longer and cats who lived with more than one smoker had even higher cancer rates.  Studies done on dogs have shown that long nosed breeds living with smokers are more prone to nasal and sinus tumors, while breeds with medium length muzzles are more prone to lung cancers.

While Most Studies on Second Hand Smoke and Pets Have Been Done on Cats and Dogs, Exposure to Cigarette Smoke also Impacts Other Companion Animals.

Animals confined to smaller spaces, such as a cage or room, often suffer from exposure to smoke because they are unable to escape it.  Exposure to cigarette smoke can cause many health complications in pets, as in people, including breathing problems, diarrhea, vomiting, cardiac issues, lymphoma, lung cancer, nasal cancer, and death.

The Dangers of Third Hand Smoke

If you thought that breathing in second hand smoke was the only way that cigarettes can impact pets, think again.  Third hand smoke, or particles from smoke that stick to surfaces such as furniture, clothing, and fur, is also dangerous.  It’s important to keep in mind that pets are often forced to endure exposure to these toxins more than humans.  Most pets are closer to the ground, where third hand smoke can accumulate.  Many types of pets also groom themselves, making it common for them to ingest third hand smoke particles.

Directly Consuming Discarded Cigarettes, Cigars, or Cigarette Butts Can Also Be Deadly to Pets.

Depending on the type and size of the pet, ingesting just a single cigarette can be deadly.  Drinking dirty water that has been contaminated with nicotine can also cause health issues.

So How Can You Help to Reduce the Risk of Second or Third Hand Smoke for Your Pet?

The best option, of course, for your own health as well as your pets’ , is to quit smoking.  Besides that, there are some precautions you can take to help limit your pets exposure:

  • Only smoke outdoors.
  • Wash your hands after smoking and, if possible, change your clothes.  Smoke particles on your skin and clothing can be carried indoors even if you smoke outdoors.
  • Make sure to correctly store ashtrays, cigars, cigarettes, and nicotine replacement products (gum, patches, etc).  Don’t leave cigarette butts on the ground or anyplace where your pets might come into contact with them.

Do you worry about the impact that exposure to smoke could have on your pet(s)?  My partner and I don’t smoke ourselves, but we used to live in an apartment building with neighbors who were heavy smokers.  I often worried if exposure to our neighbors’ second/third hand smoke would impact our, or our pets’, health.  Thankfully, knock on wood, so far we all seem to have escaped unscathed.

Thanks, as always, for reading!  We hope that everyone is staying safe and doing well.

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21 Comments

  • Reply Ruth Epstein February 5, 2021 at 4:20 pm

    This is something I am so aware of and that is why I am happy that smoking is not allowed in parks either as I always say it is bad enough us living in a city with all the muck in the air at least there is somewhere I can go to breathe some fresh air, great post

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack February 6, 2021 at 1:59 am

      I totally felt the same way when we were in the city. There’s really no way to escape all the pollution. That’s awesome that parks near you have no smoking rules. When we were in the city there was one park in particular we loved to visit, but there were often a lot of people smoking there too.

  • Reply RustysCatPack February 5, 2021 at 4:55 pm

    We totally agree with all the suggestions that were mentioned. Pet safety is very important. Thanks for keeping us safe! 🐱

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack February 6, 2021 at 1:59 am

      Of course! Thanks so much for stopping by and for your comment.

  • Reply Jana Rade February 6, 2021 at 1:53 pm

    Dogs absolutely get negatively impacted by a smoke-filled environment. Even more so than people do because of their exposure to surfaces. We do smoke, but we only do it outside, never in the house.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack February 6, 2021 at 10:18 pm

      That’s good! I was so surprised when we lived in a building with smokers how much smoke would get into our apartment. It makes me sad that my pets were exposed to that. I was so thankful when we moved we were able to rent a single family so we don’t have to deal with all that anymore.

  • Reply Britt K February 7, 2021 at 1:28 pm

    This is so important! I know that it is hard for many smokers to stick with the process of quitting just for themselves – so you’ve given some great motivation to make it happen. Our pets deserve nothing but the best. I quit smoking a long time ago. That being said, reading this would definitely help me take that step.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack February 8, 2021 at 10:30 pm

      So true! I do think sometimes it’s easier for people to quit when they have the motivation to do it for others, like their children or pets.

  • Reply Kamira Gayle February 7, 2021 at 3:18 pm

    This is such an important post. I don’t smoke either however am perplexed how people cannot make the connection that secondhand smoke impacts adults and babies and also our furry family members. Keep your family and environment clean and healthy by avoiding this nasty habit. It’s just not worth it.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack February 8, 2021 at 10:32 pm

      It’s so not. I’ve never been a smoker so I’ll admit I don’t know first hand what it’s like to quit, but I’d like to think that the health of family members, including pets, would be a strong motivator.

  • Reply Cathy Armato February 7, 2021 at 6:39 pm

    I’ve never heard about third hand smoke, that is a real eye opener! No one in our household smokes, thank goodness, but I have one relative that does. I’ll have to educate her on third hand smoke! Great post, very informative.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack February 8, 2021 at 10:38 pm

      I don’t think it’s talked about as commonly as second hand smoke. After living in a building with smokers, I can attest to how gross third hand smoke can be! It sticks to surfaces and makes them discolored and gross. It’s also toxic and can contribute to health issues.

  • Reply The Dash Kitten Crew February 8, 2021 at 2:43 am

    Smoking is not a good habit, but it’s a habit and a challenge for people to quit.

    I am glad you have pointed out the dangers and offered compromises and solutions without being judgemental and negative. You are trying to help in a positive way, and this makes your post really important.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack February 8, 2021 at 10:41 pm

      Thank you! 🙂 I’m glad you affirmed that my post didn’t come off as judgemental. I wanted to share some of the hazards of smoking without making smokers feel like I was criticizing them. I totally understand that it can be a really hard habit to kick.

  • Reply Rebecca Sanchez February 8, 2021 at 7:52 am

    I’m also saddened when I see people smoking in their car, windows rolled up, with a dog inside the car riding along. It’s so incredibly unhealthy. And I never thought about a pet accidentally eating a snuffed out cigarette, but you’re right – how incredibly dangerous. Great post – and will share with our readers.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack February 8, 2021 at 10:48 pm

      Thanks! Yeah, I’m not sure if people aren’t aware of how bad smoke can be for pets or what, but smoking with them in a closed car isn’t fair to the dogs. My Fenrir especially is the type of dog who still likes to put everything in his mouth. It’s never happened, thankfully, but I could totally picture him picking up a cigarette from the ground.

  • Reply Beth February 8, 2021 at 11:57 am

    I think this information may help people make the decision to quit smoking. Dogs are family and they deserve a healthy environment.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack February 8, 2021 at 10:53 pm

      For sure! I know quitting can be hard, but maybe for some people doing it for their beloved pets could be a good motivator.

  • Reply Sweet Purrfections February 8, 2021 at 9:31 pm

    This is terrible. I believe our pets sometimes realize smoke is bad for them. My previous Persian cat would totally avoid someone who came to visit that had been smoking.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack February 8, 2021 at 11:15 pm

      Makes sense! Smart cat! I feel the worst for caged pets who can’t get away if smoke is bothering them. At least pets like cats and dogs can move to another area of the house.

  • Reply Celebrating 11 Years - Our Blog "Year in Review" – Paw Print October 29, 2021 at 5:44 pm

    […] How Smoking Affects Your Pets:  When we lived in the city, we lived in an apartment building with neighbors below us who were heavy smokers.  Besides smelling horrible, I did worry about exposing ourselves, and the dogs, to second hand smoke.  Although I wrote this as a more educational post, in a way it felt like a victory to me that we had moved and gotten ourselves out of an unhealthy situation. […]

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