By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record August 15, 2009
Cigarettes and Tobacco materials can pose significant health threats for animals in several ways.
Cigarettes are well known for problems related to second hand smoke in people. Second hand smoke is also a significant medical concern for animals. Dogs and cats that are exposed to smoke can develop Asthma, respiratory inflammation, and respiratory infections. Symptoms include congestion, difficulty breathing, exercise intolerance and coughing. Lung changes can be identified on chest X-rays. Second hand smoke has also been linked to the development of many types of cancer in animals including oral, nasal and respiratory neoplasia.
Consumption of tobacco products is also toxic for animals. This includes tobacco leaves, cigars, cigarettes, cigarette butts, chew, and any smoking aids containing nicotine such as gum or patches. The signs of poisoning occur within an hour of ingestion, and depend upon the size of your pet, and the amount of nicotine consumed. 1-2 cigarettes can be deadly for a dog that is 10 pounds or under.
Symptoms of nicotine toxicity include vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, lethargy, depression, weakness, tremors, seizures, difficulty breathing, and death. If you suspect your dog or cat has eaten any form of nicotine, take him or her to your veterinarian immediately for treatment. Keep any tobacco products out of the reach of animals, avoid areas that are littered with cigarette butts, and please don't throw cigarette refuse on the ground.
Many people use the health of their pets as a motivating factor in quitting smoking. The website www.fluffyquits.com can be beneficial. For pet owners who do smoke, please try to do this activity in open-air locations, and not within the confines of your home; your cherished companions will thank you.