Dogs And Secondhand Smoke

In spite of the popularity of nineteenth century paintings showing dogs sitting around a poker table drinking and smoking, the only way dogs get exposed to tobacco smoke is to inhale in secondhand. 

It should really come as no surprise that just like humans, dogs who regularly inhald secondhand smoke are more likely to have more allergies, more eye infections, more respiratory issues and even more cancer than dogs who are not exposed.

What exactly do we mean by secondhand smoke? This term refers not only to the smoke given off directly by the burning tobacco product, whether that be cigarettes, cigars or pipes, but also refers to the smoke that is inhaled by the person and then exhaled into the air. This includes the vapor from vape devices as well.

The smoke from burning tobacco products contains an astounding 7000 chemicals, with many of these known to be toxic and/or carcinogenic. Just being in the presence of an active smoker and breathing puts your dog at risk and he has no choice in the matter.

A research study done at Colorado State University showed that dogs who had longer noses were much more likely to develop tumors inside their noses when exposed to secondhand smoke that dogs with shorter noses. It’s thought that the longer nosed breeds such as Labs, Collies, Doberman and many others, have an increased surface area as a result of their longer noses which is more efficient at trapping toxic particles. 

In short nosed dogs like Pugs and Shih Tzus, the toxic particles go directly into the lungs with the result that these breeds have a higher incidence of lung cancer compared to longer nosed dogs. 

So the evidence is clear. If you smoke, it’s time to quit. If not for you, then for your canine companion who trusts you to protect him. See your health care provider for help in quitting tobacco for good.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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