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By Sarah Taylor

Smoking vs your pet- Why it's bad for them

There is no doubt about it, every pet owner wants the best for their pet — the best food, the best toys, and the best health. Being a great owner is about what you are willing to do to give them the best that they deserve. Yes, you can take them to the vet, and give them the best food. However, their health also depends on other factors like our own habits which may come between them and their health. This includes smoking.

Dangers of smoking

You take everything else into consideration when it comes to their health, except for how your own habits at home may be affecting your pet's health. In the US there are around 71 million pet owners and about one-fifth of them smoke. No one is safe from second-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke is smoke that is inhaled involuntarily from someone smoking. There is even such a thing as third-hand smoke, which is what you smell in a room or on someone's clothes after they smoke.

After leaving your home, whether it's to go to work, or to the store, pets are always left because unlike you, they can't leave the house and get to fresh air. They are left there to inhale the second- and third-hand smoke. This even happens when you smoke and then hold or play with them; you are exposing them to the smoke and toxins from the cigarettes. If you smoke and have pets then you should be aware of the diseases and effects that smoking may have on your pets.

  • Respiratory problems
  • Allergies
  • Nasal cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Eye problems
  • Nervous system damage
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Lymphoma (cats)
  • Mouth cancer (cats)
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (cats)

A cigarette can have roughly 15-25 mg of nicotine in it, the butt itself has about 4-8 mg. There is a toxic level of nicotine for pets, which is 0.5-1.0 mg per pound of their body weight. This is important to keep in mind. Nicotine poisoning is caused by ingesting cigarette butts with high levels of toxins, or ingesting nicotine replacements like patches. Even drinking water that contains cigarettes can affect them. There are more than 4,000 chemicals found in second-hand smoke alone including formaldehyde, arsenic, benzene, carbon monoxide, and more.

Signs and symptoms

  • Tremors, twitching
  • Seizures
  • Excessive drooling
  • Constricted pupils
  • Auditory/visual hallucinations
  • Over-excitement
  • Racing heart
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Pets that have asthma, bronchitis, or allergic lung disease may have worsened symptoms from inhaling the smoke. Dogs with long noses can be more prone to nasal and sinus cancer, whereas those with shorter noses are prone to lung cancer. This is because long noses can filter out more of the smoke. Cats get cancer of the mouth because the smoke gets on their fur and they constantly clean themselves, thereby ingesting it.

E-cigarettes vs pets

E-cigarettes have taken people by storm. They're meant to try to help people stop smoking or as a healthier way to smoke, but they too can affect your pet. E-cigarettes used to be made with 4.6% nicotine just like a normal cigarette, but now the nicotine has been increased to 13.6%. Between 2012 and 2016, animals that were exposed increased from 240 to 305.

E-cigarettes are filled with up to 100 mg of liquid nicotine; compared to cigarettes, that's a big difference. They also have flavorings in them which tend to make animals curious about them. This increases the chance of their licking, chewing and smelling them. Pets can't make these decisions on their own, so we have to keep them in mind to help them live their best lives. There are some steps you can take to decrease their chance of disease.

What can you do?


  • Go outside
  • Change clothes after smoking
  • Wash hands
  • Always keep ashtrays clean
  • Dispense of butts right after smoking
  • Wash hair
  • Use strong air purifier

If you know or think your pet has ingested any nicotine, you can call Animal Poison Control for help at 888-426-4435. You can also call your vet to see if you need to take your pet in for a check-up.

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