The respiratory systems of animals and humans are very similar, but the effects of each animal are different. About 4,700 harmful substances can be found in cigarette smoke, but nicotine and carbon monoxide are especially dangerous to the body when inhaled.
How it affects and consequences of tobacco consumption for your pet
Pets become passive smokers in the same way as people who live with smokers.
They are exposed to the same health problems as their owners, even if they do not directly absorb tobacco smoke, because a passive smoker can run the same risks as a smoker himself.
Since the respiratory system of animals resembles our own in many respects, it is not surprising that tobacco smoke has an indirect impact on them. In the same vein, it is critical to distinguish whether a problem affects dogs, cats, or other animals such as birds, rabbits and hamsters.
It is crucial to understand that if they become accustomed to smoking in enclosed spaces, the air in that space can contain up to 50 times more carcinogens than the smoke the smoker personally inhales from tobacco, as well as three times more nicotine and carbon monoxide.
How Cigarette Smoke Affects Dogs
Nasal and lung cancer caused by tobacco smoke is more frequent in dogs with longer snouts.
This is due to the greater ease with which the substances can penetrate and accumulate in the nasal mucosa. Dogs that are subjected to smoke frequently suffer from irritations, including conjunctivitis, itchy eyes and even coughing.
Especially in such animals, that inhalation of tobacco smoke causes nausea and, as a consequence, loss of appetite.
“Dogs can suffer bronchitis, asthma and cardiovascular alterations more easily, especially those who live in homes where there is smoking and are not accustomed to ventilation”, according to the Veterinary Hospital Cruz Cubierta in Valencia.
How Cigarette Smoke Affects Cats
The risk of felines developing tumors increases fivefold in cats, especially in the case of lymphomas and mouth cancer, specifically squamous cell cancer, according to a study conducted by the Tuft University School of Veterinary Medicine (United States).
This occurs as a consequence of carcinogenic particles from tobacco smoke that adhere to cats’ fur and impregnate their fur after being released into the air.
The cat spends almost 80% of its time grooming itself and when it licks its fur, it contaminates the oral mucosa and causes dangerous diseases. Bathing the cat several times a month is one of the methods of preventing these diseases.
How cigarette smoke affects other animals
In this section, we must highlight birds. Tobacco smoke affects these animals the most.
They have a respiratory system that makes them especially sensitive because, in addition to the lungs, they have air sacs all over their bodies. Exposure to tobacco smoke increases the risk of lung cancer or pneumonia in birds and, depending on the level of exposure, can even cause death.
Moreover, as passive smokers, small animals such as rabbits can suffer from heart problems. There have been cases of reptiles developing serious problems such as eye irritation, tremors, or heart abnormalities.
Nicotine poisoning is another tobacco-related problem that can affect animals, in addition to smoke.
If an animal ingests tobacco or a piece of tobacco, drinks water contaminated by cigarette smoke, or consumes a smoking cessation product such as a patch or gum, it could become nicotine poisoned.
Drooling, convulsions, narrowing of the pupils, vomiting, diarrhea and other heart problems are signs of nicotine poisoning, as well as digestive failure. It is best to do this in a private space to which the pet does not have constant access, as well as to stop smoking.