The Dark Truth About Smoking Around Your Dog

We all know smoking around others can be detrimental to even a non-smoker’s health, but what about smoking around your dog? You may have seen the recent anti-smoking campaign by Truth which condemns smoking around pets, warning, “Fact: Dogs and cats are twice as likely to get cancer if their owner smokes.” Cancer is the last thing we want for precious Fido, so let’s examine the consequences of this common, yet dangerous habit on our furry friends.

According to petMD, dogs living with smoking owners are more likely than dogs with non-smoking owners to develop lung cancer and respiratory diseases such as asthma and bronchitis. In addition, the type of snout your dog has will determine how secondhand smoke affects him. Research shows that while the chemicals found in cigarettes can more readily reach the lungs of dogs with shorter noses (such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Boston Terriers), these toxins cause an increased risk of cancer by 250% in long-nosed dogs (such as Dachshunds and Collies) due to the chronic buildup of carcinogens in their nasal passages.

Assistant Professor Heather Wilson-Robles at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science (CVM) describes the symptoms of pets with lung diseases, including: dry hacking, progressive cough, or harder-to-manage asthma symptoms. She also notes that accidental ingestion of tobacco products can result in “gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, increased salivation and trembling.”

Wilson-Robles recommends that while the best way to avoid smoking-related health issues in pets is to quit smoking altogether, there are other courses of action that smokers can take to lessen the harm on their four-legged friends. First, dog-owning smokers should immediately cease smoking directly around their dog. And, after smoking, owners should wash their hands completely before handling their dog or any item with which the dog may come into contact.

Lastly, if a dog accidentally eats a disposed tobacco product, the owner should call an emergency clinic immediately as they will medically induce vomiting in the case the dog does not vomit up the product on his own. Some signs of nicotine poisoning in dogs include tremors, twitching, or seizures; drooling; constricted pupils; auditory and visual hallucinations; excitement, racing heart; and vomiting and diarrhea.

As with nicotine, marijuana can also affect dogs differently than it affects humans. Dogs can get high from second-hand marijuana smoke, ingesting edibles or by eating parts of the marijuana plant. According to caninejournal.com,  the effects of marijuana on dogs include lethargy, breathing problems, lower blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, loss of balance and incontinence. While recreational marijuana continues to gain legality in some states, marijuana is not yet approved for canine use and should not be given to your dog.

Just as important it is to look out for one’s own pet’s health, it is likewise necessary to be mindful of one’s behavior around other animals. Smokers should abide by proper smoking etiquette while in public; if you wouldn’t smoke near a child or your own dog, don’t smoke right next to someone else’s pet. Similarly, non-smoking dog-owners should take the proper precautions to avoid coming into contact with smokers and their byproducts, as well as to keep a watchful eye on what their dog digs its nose into outside of the house.

Everyone is well-aware of the dangers of smoking, but your canine’s health and well-being may just be one more reason to quit the habit. At the very least, dog-owners should be aware of the effects and take measures to keep smoking limited to a private space, away from their beloved animals.