You’re a conscientious nicotine user: You know about secondhand smoke, you recognize the need to be sensitive when using nicotine around adults who don’t smoke or vape, and you avoid smoking or vaping indoors or around children. You’ve got your bases covered in terms of protecting your loved ones – or do you?
It may be easier to forget about since they don’t complain in the same way humans do, but secondhand smoke can also impact our pets, especially dogs and cats, who spend much time in close quarters with their owners. How many times have you cuddled on the couch with your cat and absentmindedly took a puff of your vape, or smoked a cigarette while walking your dog? Pets may not react in the way a friend would (or at all, depending on how calm your pup or kitty is), but secondhand smoke can still negatively affect them just like it does humans.
According to Pet Health Network (PHN), people who use nicotine products also need to avoid “thirdhand smoke” when smoking around pets. A step beyond secondhand smoke, thirdhand smoke exists even when you’re not smoking – it refers to the atmosphere created in the air by nicotine use that settles on surfaces. We may not be able to see it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not impacting the air our dogs and cats breathe. These toxic particles can settle on pet beds, furniture, blankets, and other fabrics, and PHN reports that recent research has shown thirdhand smoke “may be as harmful as secondhand smoke.”
Even if your dog or cat isn’t in the room while you’re smoking, the effects of your smoking could hurt them down the line.
How does secondhand smoke affect dogs?
In PHN’s article, veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward describes the firsthand experience he has with treating animals who’ve been exposed to secondhand smoke: “…after nearly 25 years of clinical practice and growing medical evidence, I’ll proclaim, ‘There is no risk-free level of smoke exposure for dogs and cats.’” So what exactly are the risks?
When smoking or vaping, it may appear that the air you breathe out dissipates after you exhale – but in reality, it settles downward, since the compounds in smoke are heavier than air. And who in your home is closest to the ground most often? Our pets, who spend the majority of their lives near the ground and inside the home.
This means that your secondhand smoke could go directly into your dog’s nostrils while you’re smoking, and then the particles could settle into their dog bed, favorite blanket, toy – even their fur – long after you’re done with your cigarette or vape pen.
Additionally, we all know how fussy pets can be when grooming themselves. Has your dog ever woken you up at 2 a.m. with their licking noises? Aside from being annoying for owners, this could also be dangerous for them if you’ve smoked around your pup. We’ve seen how fabrics can become stained or look grungy after smoke exposure; imagine the same feeling in your dog’s fur or on their bed. Even if you can’t feel it, your dog certainly will, and will then try to clean it off – causing them to ingest the same toxic particles they’re trying to remove.
If you’re a dog owner, you’re probably aware of doggie ailments such as kennel cough, skin allergies, and more serious issues like cancer. By smoking around your dog, you’re also exposing them to even further risks – secondhand smoke can result in lung disease, canine heart disease, and according to Vetstreet, it may even change their DNA.
Secondhand smoke and cats
Much like dogs, our cats are negatively affected by secondhand and thirdhand smoke (perhaps even more so since they’re less likely to spend time outside). Cats are also typically more sedentary and likely to stay in one spot, which can be dangerous if it’s a spot near where you’ve smoked or vaped.
Cats groom themselves in a similar (if not more frequent) style to dogs, so if smoke residue has settled in their fur, they’re at risk of ingesting the toxins just like dogs would when bathing themselves.
Can cats get cancer from secondhand smoke? VetStreet reports that lymphoma is the “most common tumor in pet cats, and exposure to secondhand smoke appears to increase the risk of a cat developing this disease.”
What if I’m outside?
Being outside may feel like a “safe” way to smoke around your dog, but it’s still not risk-free.
Just like humans can be harmed by secondhand smoke anywhere, so can pets. The EPA reports that “whether the exposure occurs indoors or outdoors the adverse health effects remain the same…the U.S. Surgeon General has found that there is no safe level of exposure.” Keep this in mind next time a craving hits while out walking or at a dog park – they may not linger in the air for as long, but those toxic chemicals are still there.
Are nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) dangerous to pets?
Gum and lozenges can helping you cut back or even quit smoking or vaping, positively impacting your pets lives – but while nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) such as LUCY are a helpful way for us to ease back on smoking and avoid the negative effects of nicotine in the air around our pets, always make sure to put your gum or lozenges away when not using them. Dogs and cats make be tempted to eat it if left out.
Where do I begin?
We all care for our pets, and you likely realize how dangerous smoking or vaping near your dog or cat is for their health. You could steam clean your furniture and rugs, wash your pet bedding all the time, and avoid smoking or vaping in the same room as your pet – or, you could begin the process of quitting and protect both yourself and your pets.
Positively impact the lives of your cats and dogs by cutting back on cigarettes or vaping, whose particles can settle in the air and on surfaces. We make LUCY chew and park and nicotine lozenges from only purified tobacco, not containing any part of the tobacco leaf. Both of these solutions can be used anywhere without the negative air impacts of cigarettes or vapes, so pop a lozenge while walking your dog or chew gum while cuddling with your cat – guilt-free.
The information contained in this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should not be construed as a substitute for, professional medical or health advice on any subject matter. Please consult your physician regarding any medical treatment decisions.