Newberry Animal Holistic Hospital
Any Smokers in the Family?
While we occasionally see emergency cases where a pet ingested nicotine, there is no antidote for nicotine poisoning. Between 20-100 milligrams of nicotine can be fatal to your pet, but if discovered and transported quickly enough for veterinary care, intravenous fluids and anti-seizure medicine is often used to keep the pet stable enough to flush nicotine from their system. Symptoms for nicotine poisoning range from vomiting, unsteadiness, drooling and lethargy to fast heart rate, shaking and seizures.
While the bulk of our statistical data on tobacco's impact comes from human health studies, more studies are being done to learn about the effects that tobacco smoke (both second and third hand) can have on the lives of healthy pets. The Federal Drug Administration has a large quantity of information about how harmful tobacco can be.
Are your pets in the house when you smoke? It's crazy to imagine, but a single cigarette, when burned, can release over 7,000 chemicals. It's more alarming that we know for certain the chemical list includes ammonia, arsenic, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and Uranium-238. Inhaling second-hand smoke can cause coughing and breathing issues in both dogs and cats, but cats that live in smoking households have a significantly higher risk of oral (mouth) cancer because of third-hand smoke, which is the result of the chemicals that settle, and are no longer airborne. Because cats are such excellent groomers, the smoke particles that fall on their fur end up either concentrated under their tongue or ingested.
For dogs, it's all about the nose. According to the FDA, we know that long-nosed dogs, such as Pinschers and Borzois, have twice the risk of nasal cancer because the nose acts as the filter for the ultra-fine particles that they inhale. This means that the nose also absorbs more cancer-causing particles and keeps them trapped in the nasal and sinus tissue. Alternately, short-nose dogs like Pugs or Bulldogs have a higher risk of lung cancer because their noses do not filter very well, which allows the tobacco smoke particles to go deep into the lungs.
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