Passive Smoking and Pets
As pet owners, we spend a lot of time trying to keep our pets fit and healthy. However, although we constantly worry about the food we are giving our pets or the amount of exercise they are getting, how often do we consider that they may suffer from a fatal disease by our own hand, if it contains a cigarette.
There have been very few studies on the effects of passive smoking on animals. However this month, Dr Anthony Moore from Tufts University in Massachusetts has revealed that living in a house with smokers considerably increases a cat or dog’s risk of getting feline or canine lymphoma. Mr Moore hopes new research linking second-hand smoke exposure to the most common kind of cancer in pets, will encourage some people to kick the habit. ”I think there are a lot of people who might not quit smoking for themselves or their family. But they might for their cats and dogs,” he adds hopefully.
Although there is scepticism about the research, it makes sense that if your pet is subjected to smoke fumes in the house, their respiratory system could feel the repercussions. Some vets have suggested that smoke becomes quite concentrated at a lower level and have highlighted these figures when arguing for the plight of our pets. Only 15 per cent of cigarette smoke is actually inhaled by the smoker. The rest is dispersed into the atmosphere exposing pets to over 400 toxins. This smoke includes over 40 known cancer-causing substances, as well as carbon monoxide.
One dog owner, who thought about the long-term effects on her pet, was Shirley Beardsworth, owner of Crufts Lifetime Member, Cocker Spaniel Meg Beardsworth. After deciding to give up smoking she realised that, not only was she putting herself at risk, her dog was at risk too. “My dog, Meg, used to sneeze and run out of the room whenever I lit up a cigarette,” she recalls, “but since I have given up smoking she is extremely fit. She’s still winning dog championships and even beating dogs younger than herself.”
Recent research has also demonstrated that cigarette smoke is related to other health-related illnesses in pets, such as asthma. Studies have found that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke is also linked to nasal and sinus cancer in pet dogs. Constant exposure to cigarette smoke is certainly not going to make your pet fitter, healthier or happier. In a perfect environment, an animal should not come into contact with any cigarette smoke, so why not go outside to have a cigarette. Better still, for the sake of you and your pet’s health, give up smoking altogether!