There is no doubting that our dogs are family members and that they influence how we live. Our routine, our daily habits, even our physical and mental well-being can change when we own a dog or cat.
It now seems that our habits can have a similar impact on their health.
A new study from the University of Glasgow in Scotland found that smoking at home increases the amount of nicotine and carcinogens that are absorbed into your cat’s fur, which can be a severe issue.
Research dating back to the 1990s has connected tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke with several major health problems in canines and felines, just like in humans. According to The Royal College of Nurses, dogs, cats, birds, guinea pigs, rabbits, and other small pets living in households with smokers are at an increased risk of developing cancer as well as other unfavorable side effects like lymphoma, weight gain, and skin and respiratory infections.
According to Dr. Robert Proietto, a veterinarian in New York City, “we do know that there are hazards linked with secondhand cigarette smoke in the case of dogs and cats, much like we have seen with humans.” Studies have revealed a link between bronchitis (airway inflammation) and a higher risk of lung cancer in dogs and cats.
Cats may be even more vulnerable to the harmful effects of passive smoking due to their grooming routines. According to Proietto, “many of the carcinogens from the smoke sink into fibers surrounding the dwelling or the owners’ clothes.” “The pets frequently lick these textiles or their own fur after lying on these surfaces and absorb the carcinogens, thus they are exposed orally in addition to breathing in carcinogens.”
This can lead to issues with cats’ mouths, lymph nodes and digestion. “There has been an association found with oral tumors (squamous cell carcinoma) and lymphoma in cats. There have even been some associations between bladder disease and atopic dermatitis associated with tobacco smoke,” Proietto says. If ingested in large amounts, nicotine can be toxic to pets, so dogs and cats should be kept far away from chewing tobacco, nicotine gum and patches, cigarettes and cigars.
How then can you protect your dogs from the dangers of passive smoking while maintaining their health?
It may come as no surprise, but giving up smoking is the best course of action for both humans and animals. Proietto continues, “We see a lot of pets living in households that smoke, and I don’t notice any symptoms of dependence or withdrawal from it.”
Take steps to reduce your pet’s consumption if quitting at this time is impractical. Proietto advises that you should treat your pets just like your young children. If you smoke, do it outside where it can quickly dissipate, and try to keep your clothing away from the dogs to avoid coming into contact with any carcinogens once inside. Smoking is never acceptable in a vehicle containing animals.
All of us want the best for our pets, which includes providing a comfortable home and lots of cuddle time.