The history of smoking tobacco may reach back many hundreds of years, but research in the 20th century has made it clear how harmful this habit is. Furthermore, secondhand smoke has been implicated in the illnesses and even deaths of non-smokers. What’s even more disturbing is that smokers may have unknowingly contributed to severe disease in dogs and cats.
Most people understand that secondhand smoke from cigarettes contains an incredible number of hazardous substances and many of them are carcinogenic. These chemicals are found in high concentrations in carpets and on furniture around the home. Pets sharing this environment will get these toxins on their fur and then ingest them during normal grooming.
Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, a board certified specialist in veterinary internal medicine and certified veterinary journalist, has written that increased numbers of smokers and smoking in households corresponds with higher levels of the by-products of nicotine metabolism in pets sharing that home. She further describes how carbon deposits are often seen in the lungs of these animals.
Research is now showing that our pets’ health is affected in ways similar to what is seen in humans.
In the early 1990s, researchers found correlations between nasal cancers in dogs and the presence of smokers in the home. There is also a concern that environmental tobacco smoke may increase the incidence of lung cancer in our canine friends as well.
Cats may actually be at higher risk for serious disease when they live in a smoking environment. As mentioned above, many cigarette smoke toxins settle to low levels in the home and cats will pick up these substances on their fur. Because of their fastidious grooming habits, cats end up ingesting a higher level of chemicals and this leads to a greater chance of several types of cancer.
Lymphoma is a cancer of white blood cells and is one of the most common cancers seen in our pet cats. When smokers are present in the cat’s household, the risk for this killer is increased by two or three times over cats living in non-smoking homes. Sadly, when our feline friends are diagnosed with lymphoma, the prognosis is very poor and many won’t survive another six months.
Another serious cancer with links to secondhand smoke is a cancer of the mouth known as squamous cell carcinoma, or SCC. Studies have linked a higher risk for SCC in cats living in smoking homes. Again, the prognosis is very grave and most pets won’t survive another year.
An unpublished study has also found that the levels of nicotine found in the hair of dogs exposed to second hand smoke is similar to levels found in children living with parents who smoke.
With more than 46 million smokers in North America and about 60% of the population owning dogs or cats, the risk for the animals is substantial. Pets are often good at hiding signs of illness, so many smoking owners fail to realize the damage that their habit is causing to the four legged family member.
Of course, the best course of action is to give up the tobacco habit entirely. It’s not only best for the health of the smoker, it will also greatly reduce risks for pets. Understanding that it’s not easy to quit this addictive habit, people who smoke and have pets should attempt to minimize their pets’ exposure by smoking outdoors.
Another important thing to remember is that smoking in the car with pets can create a toxic environment, even with the windows open. Some states and Canadian provinces even ban smoking in cars when children are passengers because of the chance for serious exposures. If you must smoke when you drive, leave your pets and kids at home!
Pets who are developing illnesses from secondhand smoke may exhibit symptoms ranging from lethargy to coughing to the appearance of masses in the mouth. It’s important to have your pet seen by a veterinarian if any of these signs are noted. More
The fall colors are at there peak today and most of us are looking forward to the Halloween festivities this weekend, but our pets can truly be “spooked” by all of the noises and costumes. We hope you have a wonderful time this weekend, but remember Halloween is a holiday with many potential dangers for our dogs and cats.
First let’s consider the ghost and goblin visits on Halloween eve. The excitement of the day may be too much for even the best-behaved dog. Constant visitors to the door as well as the spooky sights and sounds may cause some pets to become fearful. Costumes on people can be scary to pets. Masks, large hats, and other costume accessories can confuse pets and may even trigger territorial instincts. It is not unusual for pets to act protective or be fearful of people in costumes, even if they normally are very social with that person. Your pet could run away and become injured in a variety of ways. Consider allowing your dog or cat to spend the evening in his own special place inside with special treats, safe and secure from the goblins. Even if you have a fenced yard, Halloween is definitely not a good night for your dog to be outside without supervision and restraint. If you can’t keep your cat indoors, considering a boarding facility or your family veterinarian. Remember, you are responsible for controlling your pet and insuring that he does not bite any of the neighborhood ghosts.
Judging by the pet pictures we get this time of year, many of our clients enjoy dressing their four-legged friends up for the holiday. Dressing up is fun for everyone, but may not be very fun for our pets. If your pet tolerates a costume, there are some things to keep in mind. Your pet must be comfortable at all times. Avoid any costumes that use rubber bands or anything that might constrict circulation or breathing. Likewise, avoid costumes with toxic paints or dyes. Your pet’s costume should be inedible. If your pet appears uncomfortable in any way, allow him to dress up in his “birthday suit”.
The two biggest concerns for pets during the holiday are injuries and poisonings. Some Halloween decorations can be unsafe. Fake cobwebs or anything resembling a string can be tempting to cats, leading to a foreign body obstruction. Candles inside of pumpkins are easily knocked over, burning your pet or even starting a fire. Although the threat is probably minimal, many people are concerned about black cats during this time of year. It might be wise to keep all cats indoors during this holiday.
Keep your pet away from the Halloween candy. Chocolate can be toxic to pets and even small amounts can cause heart problems and vomiting. Lollipop sticks and foil wrappers can become lodged in your pet’s digestive tract, causing painful obstructions. Low carbohydrate, sugar free, diabetic-friendly candy or gum that is sweetened with Xylitol can cause low blood sugar in dogs and has been implicated in liver failure as well. More
We would like to introduce and new pet owner Q&A segment to our blog this week. The veterinarians at Deerfield get great questions from our clientele each and every week. Sharing this information with everyone seems like a great way to keep everyone up on current events, prescription drug information and your pets health.
Q Our first question comes from Tammy regarding her friend Carson….
Hi – I sent this message on March 24, and haven’t heard anything back, so I’m sending again (below)……….Please let me know about the Trifexis.
I have a question – I’ve heard about a new pill that is out that you can use for both the heartworm and flea prevention……but does it also protect against ticks and the other parasites that the Frontline & Interceptor protect against? and Carson has had some allergic reactions somewhat recently – is there a risk of an allergic reaction in using this pill? Carson’s reaction was to a rabies vaccine. Also, on Carson, he had a seizure Sunday evening. It wasn’t nearly as severe as the ones he had last year – lasted between 1 and 2 minutes, he did not lose control of his bladder/colon, etc, his temp did go us some, but went back down quickly. He also recovered very quickly and it didn’t seem to wipe him out like the other ones had. He napped some, but not as much. I wanted to let you know so you could update his chart.
Thanks for your help!
A So sorry we missed you – tons of junk mail these days, and we have our spam filters turned on to sort the junk from the important stuff. These filters are not 100%. We always try to return phone messages on the same day, so please call with any important questions.
Does it also protect against ticks and the other parasites that the Frontline & Interceptor protect against?
No prevention for ticks – just fleas. Has been a more effective product for eliminating fleas than Frontline. Broader spectrum in other regards – also prevents canine heartworm disease, roundworms, hookworms and whip worms.
Is there a risk of an allergic reaction in using this pill?
An allergic reaction can occur with any medication however, we have not had any problems with Trifexis to date. Occasionally we have a patient that will vomit after administering the medication. Please give us a call if any vomiting occurs.
Carson, he had a seizure Sunday evening.
Thanks for the update – will note in his medical chart – please let me know if seizure continue on his anticonvulsant. Trifexis is contraindicated (not for use) in pets who have a history of seizures.
Thanks for all the great questions and again, we are sorry we missed you on the email.