Dr Jodie Gruernstern in Dogs Naturally says regarding the dangers of smoking to our dogs: ‘What does your dog do the minute you enter the home? Sniffs you up and down, right? We all know how sensitive their noses are! And, of course there are the little ones who curl up in your lap and lie right on the residue. Then, they groom themselves and eat it. Those of us who do not smoke can smell the lingering residue on a smoker’s clothes or even in their hair! Don’t forget about the household teenager who thinks they are being sneaky and hiding their habit, yet exposing their own beloved pet!’.
She warns that if a pet has asthma, sinusitis, a skin condition or anything which seems to be an allergy, ‘regard this as a potential pre-cancerous condition and question this pet’s exposure to potential toxins such as second or third hand smoke’. She says that when she sees an X-ray of a pet who has a primary lung tumor her heart sinks – a ‘needless loss of a beautiful life’.
Emma Innes in the Daily Mail claims that cats and dogs whose owners smoke are twice as likely to develop some types of cancer as those whose owners do not.
However, the potential harm to dogs from cigarettes doesn’t just come from passive smoking alone. Ingestion of nicotine can kill them a lot more quickly.
An article in MailOnline by Emma Edwards reports of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier dying within hours of chewing on a bottle of nicotine-laced liquid used to fuel an E-cigarette. The dog’s owner said, ‘She had chewed it and pierced the plastic container. She had only ingested the tiniest amount but by the time I picked her up she was frothing at the mouth….Her tongue was blue, her lips were blue. She messed herself, then she vomited….(the vet) gave her an injection of steroids, then put her on a drip and promised to phone us every couple of hours through the night….we received a call after 12 and a half hours saying she had passed away. Her lungs and heart had given up.’
It is estimated that four million people in Britain have now turned to electronic cigarettes. Statistically almost one quarter of these people will have at least one dog.
And it doesn’t end there. What about cigarette butts carelessly tossed onto the ground, or left in an ash tray on a low table? Or nicotine patches carelessly left about.
‘Regina’ in dogs.the fun times guide observes that many tobacco products smell like food. Cigarettes have flavors such as mint, for example. Chewing tobaccos come in wintergreen, peach, apple and butternut flavors and nicotine gums are commonly mint or orange flavored.
Nicotine is toxic for us too, but while our human bodies over time can build up a tolerance to the addictive nature of nicotine, dogs don’t have that ability. Even if a dog eats as few as one or two cigarette butts, it can kill them.
‘It only takes 5 mg of nicotine per pound of pet weight to be toxic, and 10 mg/kg can be lethal. Since a small dog can weigh under 10 pounds, and a cigarette butt can contain up to 4 to 8 mg of nicotine, you can see how if a small dog eats even a couple of cigarette butts it could be fatal’.
Cigarette butts are particularly bad because much of the nicotine is drawn into the filter while the person was smoking, so butts tend to have a high concentration of nicotine.
For my main site and stories of many dogs I have been to, see www.dogidog.co.uk