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Many smokers have pets, and these creatures are often regarded as part of the family. A web-based survey of 3,293 adult pet owners published in 2009 found that 48% were smokers or living with smokers, and 37% said clear evidence that smoking is harmful to their pet would motivate them to quit or ask the people they live with to quit. Fourteen-percent said such evidence could prompt them to do all their smoking outside. (Peters, 2010)

Is it bad to smoke around pets?

Anything that’s bad for human health is also bad for your pets, who share the same general biology as we do. In fact, because of their smaller size, their tendency to spend more time near the floor where toxins are more concentrated, and their fur, which can act like a sponge for chemical residues, pets may be even more susceptible to the harmful effects of secondhand and thirdhand smoke.

“The evidence is striking,” says Steven Hansen of the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center. “Most veterinarians believe pretty strongly secondhand smoke presents a strong danger to dogs and cats with preexisting respiratory problems.” (ibid) Like humans exposed to secondhand smoke, breathing problems are aggravated and they become more susceptible to infection.

They also have a greater risk of developing tumors. Studies have shown that the toxins in secondhand smoke can cause lung and nasal cancer in dogs and malignant lymphoma in cats.

Smoking around pets can even pose more immediate health risks. Chewing on a cigarette or cigarette butt can cause serious reactions in dogs, says veterinarian Steven Hansen. This includes rapid respiration, muscle weakness, excitability, vomiting and diarrhea. For some it can be life-threatening. If you notice these symptoms you should contact a vet immediately.

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