As a nation of animal lovers and pet owners, people in the UK tend to put a substantial amount of effort, time and money into the happiness, health and general well being of our furry friends. From purchasing innumerable bags of premium food and footing the bill for vet visits to messy carpets, bath time fun and house training, our pets are a huge part of our everyday lives. Unfortunately, recent surveys reveal that millions of otherwise caring pet owners are unwittingly harming the animals in their homes on a daily basis, entirely unaware that their actions could be causing their beloved pets untold pain and suffering.
The Effects of Secondhand Smoke on Pets
The typical smoker is aware of both the health concerns from secondhand smoke and the degree of discomfort their cigarette can cause. If a nonsmoker is uncomfortable enough in the presence of a lit cigarette, he or she can speak up about it or leave the area entirely in order to avoid continuing to inhale the noxious smoke. Our pets, however, don’t have nearly as much ability to protect themselves from exposure to cigarette smoke, particularly indoor pets. Add to this the fact that pet owners don’t often tend to think about the potential effect that smoke might have on an animal at all. The truth is that clean, fresh air is as important to dogs, cats, birds and other pets as it is to humans. Proof of this is becoming ever clearer as research continues to examine the negative impact that tobacco smoke has on the health of domesticated animals.
Dr. Clare Knottenbelt, professor of oncology and small animal medicine at the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, has conducted highly conclusive research regarding the effect of secondhand smoke on pets. “We know that SHS (secondhand smoke) exposure increases the risk of nose and lung cancers in dogs and lymphoma in cats.” She goes on to say that, for cats with lymphoma, the prognosis is not good. Felines diagnosed with this cancer, which directly affects the white blood cells, typically survive for fewer than six months even when treated with aggressive chemotherapy. Dogs with cancer of the nasal passages require radiation therapy and are generally expected to experience recurring cancer after treatment.
It is important to note that not all of the conditions associated with exposure to secondhand smoke are internal. Dogs living in a smoking household are often seen to fervently scratch, bite and chew their own skin and hair as a result of severe irritation. An owner may treat for fleas or a rash for months before scheduling a visit with the vet, at which point any open wounds and abrasions from teeth and claws must be treated as well. A cat may begin to wheeze and cough, or even develop chronic asthma from inhaling tobacco smoke over the course of only a few months. In cases like this, elimination of smoke in the environment typically resolves the issue, though continued treatment may be necessary.
Pets and Electronic Cigarettes
Many consumers searching for an effective tobacco alternative are switching to electronic cigarettes, leading us to consider the effects that these products may have on animals as well. Dr. Brad Rodu, member of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at University of Louisville and esteemed professor of medicine, reports in his blog, Tobacco Truth, that multiple laboratory-based studies have confirmed the low potential of toxicity of propylene glycol (a primary ingredient in e cigs) in dogs. After being exposed to propylene glycol aerosol for 28 consecutive days, the dogs showed absolutely no pathological effects to the tissues of the respiratory system, including the lungs, trachea and larynx. Negative toxicological findings were identical in tests performed on rats, allowing the researchers to arrive at the conclusion that propylene glycol in aerosol form were not harmful to animals or humans, conceivably, within the parameters of the study. While canines regularly exposed to tobacco smoke often suffer from unexplained fatigue, listlessness, and overall malaise, the dogs involved in the study showed no difference in their level of activity or general health.
While the MHRA has yet to declare electronic cigarettes “safe,” the dangers of smoking tobacco cigarettes and being exposed to secondhand smoke are indisputable. When it comes the health and well being of the animal companions with whom we share our homes and our daily lives, the propylene glycol studies described by Dr. Rodu stand to make a good point in favor of electronic cigarettes.
Taking a step toward reducing your pet’s risk of developing painful and potentially fatal conditions can be as simple as making the switch to e cigs today. If you have questions about which product would suit you best, INCIG‘s friendly, knowledgeable staff can assist you in finding the ideal electronic cigarette option for you based on your needs and individual goals. Once and for all, say goodbye to deadly, toxic tobacco and treat yourself (and your pets) to fresher air, cleaner lungs and a happier, healthier future.