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Dogs and Second-Hand Smoke

Second and third-hand smoke is toxic to dogs.

Most people know that smoking tobacco products comes with health risks like respiratory problems, heart disease, and cancer. Did you know that dogs in the homes of smokers are at risk for all of those issues, too?

How Are Dogs Exposed to Cigarette Smoke?

Dogs are exposed to the thousands of toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke in four main ways:

  • Second-hand smoke is breathed in when the dog is near a person who is actively smoking.
  • Dogs contact third-hand smoke on carpet, furniture, or bedding because the smoke settles onto those surfaces.
  • Third-hand smoke is ingested when a dog that has been near a smoking person licks his fur to clean it off.
  • Dogs breathe in toxic chemicals when they are in close contact with a smoker's clothing, such as when they are lying on their owner's lap.

How Are Dogs Affected by Smoke?

Studies have shown increased rates of lung cancer, nasal cancer, and sinus cancer in dogs that live with smokers over those that do not. Respiratory problems and heart conditions are probably more common, too.

How Can You Protect Your Dog from Smoke-Related Illnesses?

The best thing you can do is quit smoking or help anyone living in your home who smokes to quit. While you are doing that, here are some ways to decrease your dog's exposure to the smoke:

  • Don't smoke or allow smoking inside. If you must smoke inside, keep your dog confined in another room and smoke near an open window.
  • Regularly steam clean carpets and upholstery. If someone smokes in your home, you'll also need to clean the walls routinely and pay close attention to keeping your dog's bedding clean.
  • Change clothes before cuddling your dog. Don't let your dog snuggle up on your lap until you've changed your clothes, washed your hands, and ideally, washed your hair.
  • Don't keep cigarette butts within reach of your dog. They can suffer acute nicotine poisoning if they eat them, which can result in seizures, hallucinations, and death.

If you are struggling to quit smoking, talk with your doctor to get ideas to help you quit and find as much support as possible. You can try to find support from other pet-owners who are quitting.

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