The Effects of Second-hand Smoke on Pets
Cigarette, pipe, and cannabis smoke is toxic for cats and dogs indoors. Read on for more explanations from the family veterinarians at Passionimo.
What is second and third-hand smoke?
Second-hand smoke is a mix of the smoke exhaled by smokers and the smoke emitted from burning tobacco products.
Basically, it’s the environmental smoke breathed in by the people around smokers. It contains more than 7,000 chemicals (nicotine, ammoniac, arsenic, benzene, hydrocyanic acid, formaldehyde, cadmium, tar, etc.) including 69 known to be carcinogenic.
Because second-hand smoke is produced at lower temperatures, it contains higher levels of some chemicals than first-hand smoke.
Third-hand smoke is smoke that is trapped in hair, skin, fabrics, carpets, walls. It’s the remnants of smoke that linger long after the second-hand smoke has cleared out. It can remain on surfaces for years, even after the smell is gone1.
1 Wan, William. “We know about secondhand smoke. Now research shows 'thirdhand smoke' is also dangerous.” The National Post. 12 May 2018.
Does second-hand smoke from a cigarette, pipe, or cannabis affect our pets?
Yes. We know that second-hand is more harmful to babies and children because they breathe more quickly. Consequently, they take in more harmful chemicals relative to their body weight than adults do.
Similarly, our dogs and cats are also smaller and have a faster breathing rate. They are thus affected by second-hand smoke, although the side effects of cigarette smoke on pets have been studied less than those on human life.
Can pets develop lung cancer?
Cats living with smokers are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop cancer. They also run a higher risk for other afflictions including a higher rate of asthma.
In dogs, second-hand smoke is linked to a skin condition called dermatitis, which is comparable to eczema. It will also worsen existing respiratory issues.
Studies showed that, with exposure, the DNA of some cells of the respiratory system can undergo mutations, leading to the development of certain types of cancers.
Smoke poses another threat to pets. The 7,000 chemicals in second-hand smoke can linger in the environment for a very long time and get trapped in their fur. So not only do pets breathe in second-hand smoke but they also ingest it when they groom themselves.
Add third-hand smoke to this, and even if you smoke under the range hood or in a separate room, your pets will still be affected by the harmful effects.
Are birds just as sensitive to smoke?
The respiratory system of birds is different than that of mammals and is very fragile. As a result, they are even more sensitive to smoke, particularly smoke emanating from nonstick Teflon skillets heated at a very high temperature.
The fume released contains toxic particles that can kill a nearby bird in a matter of mere minutes. This sudden death syndrome in birds is called “Teflon toxicity” or “polytetrafluoroethylene (PFTE) toxicosis.” The risk of noxious fumes increases if the nonstick surface is scratched or tainted.
Therefore, care should be taken with any activity likely to release fumes. Frying, treating plants for insects, and the use of certain types of paints can have harmful effects on birds living in your household.
Do you have more questions?
Don’t hesitate to reach out to the Passionimo veterinary clinic nearest to you.