The Effects of Secondhand Smoke on Dogs

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It is common knowledge that smoking causes serious health risks to the person smoking and to the people around them. However, one topic that is not talked about enough is secondhand smoke.

Passive smoke, also known as secondhand smoke, is the smoke that arises from the burning end of the cigarette and which is deadlier than mainstream smoke that a smoker takes in. 

But did you know that pets also have to bear the negative consequences of their owner’s smoking habits? 

Here is a rundown of the possible consequences of secondhand smoke on dogs. 

What is Secondhand Smoke?

Exposure to the harmful effects of smoke does not require direct contact with a tobacco product. You could be a non-smoker and yet find a heavy amount of tar and nicotine in your CT scan. Why? Because you could be a passive smoker. 

Passive or Secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke that the smoker inhales and exhales and the smoke produced from the burning end of a cigarette. Being around smokers makes you a passive smoker. 

3 Symptoms Of Secondhand Smoke In Dogs

Secondhand smoke affects not only humans. It can potentially put your dog at risk of serious health conditions. Some of the common symptoms of secondhand smoke are as follows:

Frequent Eye Infections

Eye infections in dogs can range from uncomfortable to downright painful. If your dog’s eye is infected, you may notice the following signs:

  1. Redness of the eye or area surrounding the eye
  2. Swelling around the eye
  3. Frequent watery discharge or tearing
  4. Squinting and blinking
  5. Sensitivity to light
  6. Holding the eye closed 
  7. Pawing or rubbing at the eye

Frequent Respiratory Issues

Dogs are at equal risk of experiencing respiratory issues due to smoke, just like humans. The most common representation of respiratory issues is signs like:

  1. Difficulty breathing
  2. Frequent coughing
  3. Nasal congestion
  4. Wheezing, and gagging after coughing

 Any such symptom should immediately alarm you about an internal respiratory disturbance.

Frequent Allergies

Allergies in dogs can cause severe disturbances. Dogs have different types of allergies, from the skin and environmental allergies to food. They are frequently manifested through signs like:

  1. Itching of the skin (either localized or generalized)
  2. Hives
  3. Swellings (around face, ears, lips, or earflaps)
  4. Inflammation and redness of the skin
  5. Vomiting
  6. Sneezing and coughing 
  7. Constant licking 

Hazards of Secondhand Smoke for Dogs

Being aware of the potential risks of direct and secondhand smoking takes you one step closer to identifying early symptoms of related diseases and preventing hazardous consequences for your dogs. 

Tobacco smoke is composed of more than 7,000 chemicals, out of which at least 69 cause cancer. So if you’re a smoker, know that the air your pet breathes in contains a heavy amount of these toxins that can cause serious health hazards like some mentioned below: 

  1. Lung cancer 

Breathing in carcinogens puts your dog at potential risk of developing cancers. The type of cancer a dog is most likely to develop depends on the shape of its head. 

Dogs with short snouts are more likely to contract lung cancer than dogs with long nasal passages, prone to developing nasal cancers. There has been a noticeable rise in cases of cancers in dogs. 

However, it is still not easily detected. Almost 25% of the dogs with lung cancer will be symptom-free. Other dogs may exhibit symptoms like respiratory disturbances, including difficulty in breathing, lethargy, weight loss, coughing, and decreased appetite. 

It is possible to treat cancer through radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. 

  1. Nasal cancer 

Several studies suggest that dogs exposed to smoking environments are at an increased risk of developing nasal cancers. About 80% of nasal tumors are malignant. 

Long-nosed dogs ( Dobermans, labradors, German shepherds, etc.) have a greater potential of developing nasal cancer because more carcinogens can accumulate in their long noses. 

According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation, the survival rate for nasal cancer is low. Common signs of nasal cancer in dogs include nasal discharge (puss-like or blood), noisy breathing, coughing, weight loss, and lethargy. 

  1. Nicotine Poisoning

Nicotine is a natural chemical stimulant found in tobacco. It is toxic to dogs and can be deadly. The most common way dogs may accidentally be exposed to nicotine is by chewing cigarette butts, patches, etc. 

Nicotine is readily absorbed in the gastrointestinal system, lungs, and skin making it highly lethal for dogs. Once it is absorbed in the bloodstream, the removal is difficult.

Even a small amount of nicotine, as low as 1 mg/kg, can prove to be fatal or cause your dog to collapse. Since it is readily absorbed in the body, it can also cause cardiac arrest within 15 minutes.

Moreover, muscle paralysis and lungs and respiratory failure are also commonly reported. However, detection of poisoning can be difficult as the symptoms mimic many other diseases. 

Is Smoking Around Dogs Bad? 

Studies have shown that smoking around dogs can injure their health. Dogs love to sniff, which is how they welcome tobacco-filled smoke into their system, causing serious health problems. 

Can Dogs Be Exposed To Secondhand Smoke Even If You Don’t Smoke Around Them? 

Secondhand smoke is the exhaled tobacco smoke and the smoke from the lit product. Dogs can easily be exposed to secondhand smoke if they are around owners who smoke or by licking their owner’s skin, clothes, or surfaces where tobacco remains are concentrated. 

Is Secondhand Smoke Bad For Dogs?

SecondHand Smoke is deadlier than mainstream smoke that smokers take in. Dogs exposed to secondhand smoke risk developing cancers, tumors, allergies, skin conditions, poisoning, and other respiratory problems. 

Is It Illegal To Smoke With A Dog In The Car? 

The highway code does not make it illegal to smoke with a dog in a car. However, it can pose serious health risks because your dog may be exposed to secondhand smoke, that too, in a somewhat confined space which is even worse.  

Conclusion; Parting Thoughts

The effects of secondhand smoke on people are well-known and your pet can experience similar consequences. 

  • Secondhand smoke is the smoke exhaled by a smoker mixed with the smoke from the burning end of a cigarette. 
  • Secondhand smoke can pose serious health risks for your dog. 
  • Some common secondhand smoke hazards include cancers, respiratory problems, allergies, poisoning, eye infections, etc. 
  • Dogs who live with smokers are ten times more prone to developing serious health problems than dogs who live with non-smokers. 

Even minimal exposure can lead to serious problems therefore it is better not to mix dogs and smoke at all to keep your furbaby safe and healthy. 

Happy pet, Happy you!

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