Pets affected by secondhand smoke, too
Tue, 11/01/2016 - 9:22pm Ourtown1
Chad Pate, East Texas Press
Lighting up a cigarette may not just hurt yourself and the people around you. Your pet may be paying the price for your habit, too.
Veterinarians say that secondhand smoke is a threat to dogs and cats as well as humans. Secondhand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke, or ETS, is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette or cigar and the smoke that is exhaled by the smoker. Research indicates that secondhand smoke contains more than 5,000 substances, many of which are known to cause cancer in humans and other animals.
A number of studies have found that nonsmokers who regularly breathe the tobacco smoke from others are at a higher risk for developing heart disease or certain cancers, like lung cancer. There also have been numerous scientific papers that report the pronounced health threat secondhand smoke poses to pets. Some veterinarians have linked tobacco smoke to lung and nasal cancer in dogs, lung cancer in birds and oral cancer and lymphoma in cats.
Indeed, according to a study by Colorado State University, pets that live with smokers have a higher risk of developing particular types of cancer, including twice the risk of developing lung cancer.
Long-nosed canines, such as collies, may be susceptible to nasal cancers because carcinogens from cigarette smoke lodge in the large surface area of the nasal cavity and sinuses, says a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. However, short- and medium-nosed breeds are more susceptible to lung cancer because the nose doesn't trap the carcinogens as easily, allowing them to quickly travel to the lungs, where they take root.
Bird owners may already be familiar with avians' susceptibility to respiratory illnesses from in-air contaminants. Birds' respiratory systems are very sensitive to air pollutants, including cigarette smoke.
Pets are also affected by something known as "third-hand smoke." This is the residue that collects in areas where smokers frequent. It is found on interior surfaces of the home and even on people and pets themselves. Cats, which are notably self-groomers, tend to develop oral maladies because they are licking harmful chemicals, including third-hand smoke, from their bodies on a daily basis. Tufts College of Veterinary Medicine conducted a study that showed that the number of cats living with mouth cancer was higher for those living in homes with smokers than those cats living in smoke-free homes. There is also evidence that cats living with a smoker are twice as likely to develop malignant lymphoma. Third-hand smoke may also provoke skin allergies and irritation.
When individuals think of smoking-related complications, they tend to think solely of fellow human beings. However, pets are susceptible to cancer as well, and secondhand smoke can be just as deadly to your four-legged friends as it can be to your family.