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Smoking and Your Pet

If there wasn’t enough reason for you to stop smoking than just your health, how about your faithful pets’ health?


The evidence of secondhand smoking causing cancer has been building for years, not just in humans but moreso in animals. Veterinarians have been doubling their efforts to warn pet owners about the dangers smoking can do to their pets.

Pet owners that smoke are increasing their pets’ chances of forming cancer even if they choose not to smoke in the vicinity of the animal.  Environmental tobacco smoke more than doubles cats chances of lymphoma as compared to a feline not exposed.  As duration and quantity of smoking rises in owners, so do cats’ chances of getting cancer.  If exposed for 5 or more years the risk triples.  When two or more smokers are present, the risk quadruples!

Studies have shown that toxins in secondhand smoke can cause lung and nasal cancer in dogs and malignant lymphoma in cats.  Cats are more susceptible to malignant lymphoma cancers because they bathe frequently throughout the day.  They lick their fur and skin, and in doing so they expose their mouths and bodies to the toxins of cigarette smoke.  Dogs are more susceptible to lung and nasal cancers, especially long-snouted dogs, because they have a larger surface area of exposure to the carcinogens of secondhand smoke.  According to some reports dogs with short or medium snouts are at greater risk for lung cancer because their sinus passages just cannot properly cleanse the smoke of the lethal carcinogens before reaching the lungs.

From the Experts

Vetrinarian Carolynn MacAllister of Oklahoma State University says “There have been a number of scientific papers recently that have reported the significant health threat secondhand smoke poses to pets,” MacAllister said. “Secondhand smoke has been associated with oral cancer and lymphoma in cats, lung and nasal cancer in dogs, as well as lung cancer in birds.”

“The evidence is striking,” says Steven Hansen of the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center.

Veterinary oncologist Aarti Sabhlok treats 40 or more cancer patients a week at San Francisco Veterinary Specialists, says an “animal in an environment with constant exposure to a toxin, and that would include cigarette smoke, could be at greater risk of developing tumors.”

What is in Cigarettes?

Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing (carcinogenic) compounds and 400 other toxins. These include nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide, as well as formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, and DDT.

These are just a few of the 4,000 chemicals found in cigarettes:

(nail polish remover)
Often used as a solvent in nail polish remover.
(toilet cleaner)
Ammonia compounds are commonly used in cleaning products and fertilizers. Ammonia is also used to boost the impact of nicotine in manufactured cigarettes.
(petrol additive)
Benzene can be found in pesticides and gasoline. It is present in high levels in cigarette smoke and accounts for half of all human exposure to this hazardous chemical.
Carbon Monoxide (CO)
(car exhaust fumes)
Carbon monoxide is present in car exhaust and is lethal in very large amounts. Cigarette smoke can contain high levels of carbon monoxide.
(embalming fluid)
Formaldehyde is a chemical used to preserve dead bodies, and is responsible for some of the nose, throat and eye irritation smokers experience when breathing in cigarette smoke.
Hydrogen CyanideHydrogen cyanide was used to kill people in the gas chambers in Nazi Germany during World War II. Traces of it can be found in cigarette smoke.
(insecticide/addictive drug)
Nicotine is a poison used in pesticides and is the addictive element in cigarettes.
TarParticulate matter drawn into lungs when you inhale on a lighted cigarette. Once inhaled, smoke condenses and about 70 per cent of the tar in the smoke is deposited in the smoker's lungs.
TSNAsTobacco-specific N-nitrosamines (TSNAs) are known to be some of the most potent carcinogens present in smokeless tobacco, snuff and tobacco smoke.


A Web-based survey of 3,293 adult pet owners found that 48% were smokers or living with smokers, and 37% said clear evidence that smoking is harmful to their pets would motivate them to quit or ask the people they live with to quit; 14% said such evidence could prompt them to do all their smoking outside.

2 Responses to Smoking and Your Pet

  1. Cjohnson August 7, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    Question: Marijuana smokers seem to think that they create no environmental hazard
    and no threat to pet health. Answers???

    • Kevin August 14, 2012 at 9:51 am #

      That’s a great question. Even marijuana smoke can be harmful, especially considering how much smaller most of our pets are. Second hand smoke is believed to be one of the largest contributors of cats and dogs developing cancer in their mouths and nasal passageways.

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