People widely discuss the allergies triggered by dogs from their fur and saliva but seldom understand the inconvenience caused to dogs from the smoking habit of their pet parents. Yes, passive smoking is harmful to our pets as well; let’s see how.
We all know that smoking is injurious to health but still people do not quit smoking. The Union Health Ministry in India has prohibited smoking in public places, including hotels, bars and restaurants, to protect the public from the health risks of exposure to second hand smoke or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). It is common knowledge that non-smokers or passive smokers are at risk of developing a wide range of illnesse including lung cancer, premature births, asthma and other respiratory disorders. However, little is known about the effects of ETS on pets at home.
Pets are in danger
A lot of studies have indicated major health issues due to passive smoking in pets, some of which include:
Cancers and tumours
A report in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that dogs in homes with smokers have a sixty percent higher risk of lung cancer than dogs in homes with non-smokers. Veterinarians across the world are urging people to refrain from smoking in the presence of their pets since dogs exposed to ETS are at a higher risk of developing lung, oral and nasal cancer and lymphoma. Further, the smoke particles get trapped in dog’s fur and they can ingest it when they groom themselves.
Another study by Colorado State University researchers revealed that dogs, especially longer-nosed breeds such as Collies, Greyhounds and German Shepherds, exposed to ETS have a higher incidence of nasal tumours, while shorter or medium-nosed dogs like Pugs have higher chances of lung cancer.
Asthma, which can affect both dogs and cats, results in an obstruction of the airways when the bronchi (the air passages in the lungs) fill up with mucous and go into spasms (bronchoconstriction). Pet parents often report wheezing and, in rare cases, respiratory distress occurs, resulting in open mouth breathing and purple gums and tongue. In some cases, pets may become lethargic and stop eating, resulting in weight loss. Between episodes, pets are usually normal. The primary triggers for asthma include ETS, litter dust, air pollution and certain fragrances.
Another study conducted in 2006 by Tim German, a veterinary medicine student at New University of Saskatchewan in Canada, on dogs that belong to smoking and non-smoking households found structural and functional changes in the heart and blood vessels of dogs exposed to ETS. German, who used the healthiest dogs based on age, weight and body condition for the study, conducted ultrasound measurements of the hearts and found that dogs who belong to households where the occupants smoke had more muscle on the left side of their heart, compared to dogs from non-smoking homes. He said the extra heart muscle could be a sign of high blood pressure. He also found that dogs from smoking households have lower relaxation in their arteries, which is another likely indicator of high blood pressure.
In addition to the health risks of ETS exposure, pets could end up ingesting discarded butts resulting in nicotine poisoning.
These studies underscore the need for pet parents to refrain from smoking inside the house. Unlike human beings, pets cannot complain and continue to remain dedicated and faithful to their parents
despite the irritation and discomfort.
Isn’t it time then for people to realize that pets are as much part of the family as children and provide them a healthy atmosphere to live?