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Pets & Secondhand Smoke

January 14, 2014 4:43 pm0 commentsViews: 117
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Long-nosed dog breeds, like shepherds, may be more susceptible to nasal cancers due to inhalation of carcinogens from secondhand smoke.

Long-nosed dog breeds, like shepherds, may be more susceptible to nasal cancers due to inhalation of carcinogens from secondhand smoke.

Lighting up a cigarette may not just hurt you 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.

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.

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.

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