We know that smoking affects the health of not just the one smoking, but everyone exposed to the secondhand smoke. But have you thought about second-paw smoke? Rover and Mittens are susceptible to the health effects of secondhand smoke just like the rest of the family. Here are half a dozen good reasons why you shouldn't puff around pets.

  1. Pets are exposed to both secondhand and thirdhand smoke: Secondhand smoke is smoke that is exhaled or comes off burning tobacco, which is then inhaled by others – including nearby nonsmokers and pets. Thirdhand smoke is the residue that remains on skin, fur, furniture, etc., even after the air has cleared. Our furry friends usually groom by licking their fur. If that fur is coated with smoke residue, they ingest carcinogens and toxins on top of the ones their lungs take in.
  2. C is for Cat and Cancer: Studies show that cats that were exposed to secondhand smoke were more than three times as likely to develop malignant lymphoma as cats who were not. Their risk of squamous cell carcinoma - the most common and aggressive type of oral cancer in cats, - may be higher too.
  3. Increased respiratory disease: Just like people, pets who live with smokers are more likely to experience symptoms of respiratory disease, like asthma, bronchitis and lung cancer than pets that live in smoke-free homes. Cats are particularly susceptible to asthma flare-ups when exposed to secondhand smoke. According to the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, these symptoms can be severe and even fatal.
  4. Long nose = nasal cancer risk: Dogs with long noses have about double the risk of cancer of the nasal passages than breeds with shorter noses. The numerous toxins found in cigarette smoke build up in the nasal passages of long-nosed dogs, resulting in more nasal cancer.
  5. Little pets - big health problems: Birds are sensitive to all types of air pollutants (remember the canary in the coalmine?) and secondhand smoke increases their risk of pneumonia and lung cancer. Secondhand smoke has even been shown to increase the risk of heart disease in rabbits, and toxic residue from tobacco products can even settle in aquarium water and poison fish.
  6. Pets are homebodies: Although there are exceptions (thank you service animals!) most pets spend more time at home than their people. When was the last time your cat left for work, or the parakeet went to school? More time at home means more exposure.

So, what's a conscientious pet-lover to do? Make your home smokefree! Luckily, the American Lung Association has the tools and tips you and your housemates need to quit. Check them out. Your non-human friends will be glad you did!

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