We all know that smoking has a harmful effect on human health.

For many years, studies and research has shown that those who spend time around smokers, breathing in their second-hand smoke, are at risk of developing health problems like lung cancer even if they never smoke themselves.

But does this apply to animals too? If your cat, dog or other pet is subjected to your second-hand smoke, could they suffer from medical issues?

A research team at the University of Glasgow has discovered recently that passive smoking isn’t just a risk to humans, it’s also potentially dangerous to domestic pets. Cats, dogs and other small animals like birds and guinea pigs may be equally at risk from passive smoking as humans. Other previous studies have also shown similar results.

Why Are Animals At Risk From Passive Smoking?

Many domestic animals stay close to their human owners, snuggling up next to them. This means they breathe in a lot more smoke. Also, they tend to spend a lot more time indoors than their owners. They lounge around on furniture and carpets that are covered in potentially carcinogenic particles.

These particles may also fall and land on their fur. This means that pets, and especially cats, will ingest them during their grooming rituals. Not only is this a risk, but the smell produced by tobacco smoke is also quite unpleasant for animals since their sense of smell is considerably more powerful than that of a human. Second-hand smoke may also make conditions such as asthma and bronchitis worse.

Are Dogs At Risk From Passive Smoking?

Some evidence exists to show that breathing in tobacco smoke may make nasal cancers more likely in dogs. However, not every case of this type of cancer in dogs is caused by passive smoking. Even if you aren’t a smoker, you should be observant for any serious nasal discharge or breathing difficulties in your dog, since this may be a symptom of respiratory cancer. Don’t worry unduly though, since this is rarely the cause.

Are Cats At Risk From Passive Smoking?

When compared with other domestic pets, cats have a greater risk of health problems from passive smoking since they regularly groom themselves, and are therefore at risk of ingesting toxic and potentially carcinogenic particles that have fallen onto their fur. When this is combined with regular inhalation of second-hand tobacco smoke, cats are at a greater risk of developing mouth cancer or blood cancer lymphoma.

Can I Protect My Pet From Second-Hand Smoke?

The only way to ensure your pet is completely protected from second-hand smoke is to avoid smoking near them entirely. If you smoke outside the house, this will be very helpful, and even smoking in another room will ensure your pet inhales less smoke overall. However, it won’t entirely solve the issue since the potentially harmful particles will remain still on furniture and clothing. Maintaining good ventilation is key to avoid the smoke in the air stagnating, and vacuuming soft furnishing regularly will help to reduce the number of dangerous and carcinogenic particles in your home.

Can I Use E-Cigs Around My Pets?

No studies currently exist to prove that the vapor produced by e-cigs poses any risk to your pets, but there is evidence to show that, if your pet ingests the contents of your e-cigarette they could be poisoned. Animal poisonings due to electronic cigarettes have increased dramatically over the last few years. Therefore, although vaping around your pets is a good alternative to the potential harm that can be caused by breathing in tobacco smoke, you must ensure that you always keep your vaping devices and accessories out of your pet’s reach.