We’re all likely aware of the dangers of smoking cigarettes. There are countless controversial advertisements, warnings, people, and organizations arguing back and forth about just how unhealthy smoking is. But the focus is solely on humans. Yes, humans are the ones doing the smoking, but you’ve likely heard about how second- and third-hand smoke harms children and other non-smokers that are exposed. This also stands true for our pets. While we’re not here to discuss whether you should or shouldn’t smoke cigarettes, we are dedicated to the health and well-being of pets all over the world and want to share the important dangers of second-and third-hand smoke.
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#1 – Respiratory Infections
Dogs exposed to second- and third-hand cigarette smoke are at an increased risk of developing respiratory infections. Just like with humans, cigarette smoke deposits the same chemicals and toxins into your dog’s respiratory tract. Exposure to second- and third-hand smoke can cause and exacerbate conditions like bronchitis and asthma. Dogs may have a difficult time overcoming these ailments because of their continued exposure.
According to veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker, “Animals with asthma or bronchitis may have difficulties controlling their disease. A lot of vets, even though not much literature is published to prove that, would tell you that they have seen similar experiences. The owner quit smoking and the pet’s lung problems or disease improved.”
With respiratory ailments, dogs are at a higher risk for other issues as well. Chronic lung damage can occur, and left untreated, can greatly decrease your dog’s quality of life.
#2 – Other Ailments
Dogs exposed to cigarette smoke also have higher rates of allergic skin disease. Allergies plague many dogs for many different reasons, but second- and third-hand smoke can not only cause an allergic reaction, it can exacerbate the allergies your dog already has. Further, studies have shown that dogs with a common form of heart disease that come from smoking homes have a higher incidence of damage to heart blood vessels – also making their conditions much worse.
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#3 – Cancers
Perhaps the major reason smoking is frowned upon is the increased risk of cancer. But this risk doesn’t only apply to humans. In fact, second- and third-hand smoke puts our dogs at a higher risk for several different types of cancers.
Just like people, the incidence of lung cancer in dogs from smoking homes is much higher than that in dogs from non-smoking environments. Further, dogs exposed to cigarette smoke have a very high rate of nasal cancers. According to a 1998 Colorado State University study, dogs with long muzzles (think German Shepherd Dogs and Collies) suffered higher rates of nasal cancers and dogs with shorter muzzles (think Bulldogs and Boxers) had higher rates of lung cancers.
Regardless of the results, these cancers all have a very poor prognosis and will quickly shorten your dog’s life. The American Journal of Epidemiology found that dogs living in smoking homes have a 60% increased chance of developing lung cancer – a statistic that we just can’t ignore.