FDA Warns Secondhand Smoke Could Kill Your Pets

Posted by Amber King
lit cigarette

Dogs and cats aren't immune to the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Smokers realize they put their lives at risk every time they light up, and most also understand the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, the smoke that lingers in the air where others may inadvertently breath it in. Laws have been established in order to protect bystanders, but humans aren't the only ones at risk.

According to the FDA, pets are also affected by secondhand, and even third-hand, smoke. Veterinarian for the FDA, Carmela Stamper says,

"Smoking isn't only harmful to people; it's harmful to pets too. If 58 million non-smoking adults and children are exposed to tobacco smoke, imagine how many pets are exposed at the same time."

Because pets, like children, spend a lot of time close to the floor, third-hand smoke is also a considerable concern. Third-hand smoke is the chemical residue left behind by cigarette smoke that attaches to skin, clothing, carpet, and nearly everything else.

two ginger cats

When a cat takes a nap on the couch where its owner usually sits to have a cigarette, chemical residue will be transferred onto its fur. And when the cat cleans itself, it will ingest those chemicals. Cats are prone to mouth and lymph node cancers because of this exact scenario. Cats living with smokers are two to four times more likely to develop these aggressive forms of cancers.

Exactly how tobacco affects a dog's health depends on certain factors including the length of the dog's nose and its breed. Studies suggest dogs with long muzzles are more likely to develop nose and sinus cancers, because of the increase in surface area where toxins can accumulate. Dogs with short noses, like pugs and bulldogs, more often develop lung cancer.


Cats and dogs aren't the only pets affected by secondhand smoke. Birds, rodents, rabbits, and even fish are also endangered by exposure to airborne contaminants. And the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes isn't helping the matter. The vapor produced by e-cigarettes can also lead to nicotine toxicity in pets.

To learn more about how secondhand smoke affects your pet, visit the FDA website about pets and smoking.

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FDA Warns Secondhand Smoke Could Kill Your Pets