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What "Thirdhand" Smoke Can Do to Your Pet

Reviewed by Dr. Sarah Tasse, DVM on Monday, July 13, 2015
Posted May 21, 2015 in Dog Checkups & Preventive Care

Person smoking

Most everyone knows smoking is bad for you, just ask the American Heart Association. Most people also understand that secondhand smoke can be dangerous to children. Sadly, few pet guardians realize how harmful smoking can be for their pets. Secondhand smoke poses real risks for the dogs and cats in our homes. Let’s examine a few of the biggest pet health threats of smoking.

Pet cancer and secondhand smoke
2.5 million adult nonsmokers have died from secondhand smoke since 1964, says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), secondhand smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals; hundreds are toxic and at least 70 have been proven to cause cancer (learn answers to the five most common questions about cancer in dogs). This has led the CDC to proclaim, “There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.” In other words, any secondhand smoke is harmful.

While we don’t have as much scientific research on dogs and cats about secondhand smoke, I have seen enough to understand that secondhand smoke causes many cancers in animals. Cancers such as malignant lymphoma in cats have been linked to smoke exposure, reports the American Journal of Epidemiology, perhaps more than doubling the risk of contracting this devastating disease. In fact, after nearly 25 years of clinical practice and growing medical evidence, I’ll proclaim, There is no risk-free level of smoke exposure for dogs and cats. The biggest risk of smoking is, of course, cancer.    

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Ernie has more than 20 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a well-known veterinarian, media personality and author. He is also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.