Do you smoke? Maybe your partner smokes? Is your dog exposed to passive secondhand smoke? Heck, what is passive smoking, and how does it affect a dog’s health? Have you ever wondered if secondhand or even thirdhand smoke hurts your dog? I admit I don’t smoke. Although, I do have friends that smoke. They have always been polite with smoking away from me or my dog, Henry. Yet, I’ve wondered if that really helps. Today, let’s dig in and discover the facts of passive thirdhand and secondhand smoke for dogs, including hidden costs and how to avoid or reduce them.
Budget tip: I’m generally a person that says do whatever you want unless it’s hurting someone or something else. Secondhand and thirdhand smoke not only is dangerous for pet parents but can be fatal for dogs as well. That’s a huge push to make changes, save some money, and improve your dog’s and your health. While nothing worth doing is ever easy, this is definitely one that’s a major WIN!!!
I don’t smoke. Why do I care about secondhand smoke for dogs?
For a moment think about passive smoking. Just like secondhand smoke for people, secondhand smoke for dogs can lead to serious health issues. Specifically, tobacco smoke has 70 known harmful chemicals to cause cancer. This means that if you expose your dog to secondhand smoke, his/her quality of life may ultimately be compromised and your vet bills will in turn skyrocket!
What is passive smoking?
This does sound like an incompatible statement, doesn’t it? Either you’re smoking or not, right? Well, it’s actually referring to secondhand smoke. Think about when you’re at a concert or venue and there are people smoking or smoke is in the air. That smoke still affects your body, although not as directly as if you are personally inhaling tobacco.
How does passive smoking transfer to your dog? Well, to illustrate consider a party and think about the non-smokers and active smokers at the party. The passive smoking particles can affect your dog’s health as he/she breathes them in or they settle on his fur. Thus, your dog becomes a secondhand smoker. Weird, huh? Think of it as the trickle-down theory. But it’s with smoking. Most impactful at the source but still has effects as it goes down the hill, especially since smoke is able to get into and on the body.
What is thirdhand smoke and how does it hurt my dog?
This is a bit tricky. It’s also considered environmental tobacco smoke because it’s in your environment, but you can’t necessarily control it without leaving.
Specifically, thirdhand smoke is when a non-smoker transfers carcinogens (as a secondhand smoker or passive smoker) to their dog. Thus, the dog then becomes a thirdhand smoker. A little crazy, isn’t it? As an example, as I said I don’t smoke. So, if I were to walk into a local establishment where smoking is prevalent I become a secondhand smoker or passive smoker.
However, taking this further I then come home and play with my dog, Henry (without showering or changing clothes). Thus, he becomes a thirdhand smoker as I will transfer the smoke carcinogens and toxic particles to him. Basically, it’s a smoke residue that creates a secondhand or thirdhand smoke exposure issue. Perhaps not as big of a punch in the face as if someone puffing directly into a Henry’s face, yet the carcinogens still remain and can be ingested and harm his health.
What are the dog health risks of thirdhand and secondhand smoke?
If your pup is exposed to thirdhand or secondhand smoke (yep, you got it passive smoking) you are putting your dog’s health at risk. Specifically, your dog has a higher potential of being diagnosed with:
- Eye infections
- Respiratory problems (including asthma)
- Nasal cancer and tumors
- Lung cancer
NOTE: Even fish and cats are vulnerable to secondhand and thirdhand smoke. Cats have a unique risk because they groom themselves and will ingest airborne smoke carcinogens that land in their fur. Thus, they are more likely to be diagnosed with asthma, COPD, and lymphoma, to name a few health issues. Although, dogs that tend to lick can have similar issues.
What if I smoke outside? Or I smoke away from my dogs?
While it’s better to smoke away from your dog or better to smoke outside away from your dog, the risk still remains. Keep in mind that the smoke chemical remains on your hair, clothes, and skin. Therefore, when you go inside and pet your dog you can transfer the carcinogens to your home and dog.
My dog loves to try to play with or eat cigarette butts on our walks. Should I worry?
Dogs are funny with what they will play with, eat, or try to eat. That can include a cigarette butt. The problem with cigarette butts is two-fold:
- It’s a choking hazard
- Butts contain carcinogens
The best option is to make sure you have your dog leashed and teach your dog the “let it go” command.
NOTE: Also, if you’re trying to quit smoking and wearing a nicotine patch or other nicotine reducing substance make sure that you keep them out of the reach of your dog and pets. These are just as dangerous for your pets.
What do nicotine poisoning symptoms in dogs look like?
If your dog eats cigarettes, tobacco, vaping liquid, nicotine patch, or another tobacco product, you’ll want to seek immediate veterinary help. Your dog could also get nicotine poisoning from secondhand or thirdhand exposure. The signs of nicotine poisoning will include symptoms such as:
- Unbalanced or wobbly
- Appeared weakness
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
Is it safe to smoke other substances around my dog?
Anything that has tobacco or nicotine will have carcinogens. So, that goes for things like:
- Vaping (or vape pen)
However, the issue with other substances that can be smoked or ingested when it comes to your dog or pets is simple – it’s toxic and can be fatal. These substances include, but are not limited to:
- Marijuana (and all forms of cannabis including cannabis smoke )
- Hallucinogenic Mushrooms
I think my dog was inadvertently exposed to some kind of dangerous smoke. What do I do?
1. Call your vet.
Be honest about what you believe your dog has been exposed to, even if it’s an illegal drug. This will save your dog precious time, unnecessary tests, and you an unneeded larger vet bill.
2. Rush your dog to your vet or emergency vet
3. Call for help
- ASPCA Pet Poison Hotline – 888-426-4435 (consultation fee may apply)
- Pet poison control hotline – chat live 24/7 for $35/month (cancel anytime)
- Check your pet insurance for a free poison or vet phone consultation number or website.
I don’t smoke, but someone around me does. What can I do to protect my dog?
Honestly, this is a difficult question. However, this means thirdhand or passive smoking exposure for your dog. Thus, your dog’s health is more at risk.
Unfortunately, we’ve all heard that quitting smoking isn’t easy. Otherwise, the tobacco industry wouldn’t be in business. Obviously, you don’t want to shame the person. That does no good. But do try gently encouraging the person. Maybe talk with your healthcare provider about how to quit successfully.
In the meantime, tell the person that you care for them, but you are responsible for your dog and pets so you have to look out for their well-being and health. As such, absolutely don’t allow the person to smoke in front of them. Encourage them to wash their hands after smoking and before petting your dog.
Won’t my pet insurance cover any thirdhand or secondhand smoking issues for my dog?
Maybe or maybe not. You’ll have to check with your pet insurance. However, why put your dog’s health at risk? Isn’t it better to take proactive actions, if at all possible, for your dog?
Show me exactly how avoiding thirdhand and secondhand smoking helps my dog’s health and reduces costs.
So, we now know that thirdhand and secondhand smoke for dogs and pets is dangerous. It can cause a multitude of health issues very similar to their dog parents. Honestly, this is the fun part. How does smoking impact your pocketbook or vet costs? Consider this for a moment:
|Treating dog nasal cancer, tumors, and lung cancer||$10,000+|
|Quit smoking and save (lifetime cost savings)||$147,000+|
|Shorten lifespan and decreased quality of life for your dog||IMMEASURABLE!!!!|
This means smoke-free environments improve your dog’s health. Plus, your finances immediately improve. That’s huge! Always something good to aim for when possible.
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Summary of secondhand smoke for dogs
While you may have guessed that puffing in front of your dog wasn’t a good idea, I bet you were a bit surprised about passive smoking and especially thirdhand smoking impacts on your pet’s and dog’s health. Honestly, I learned a lot in researching this article. If you’ve ever witnessed lung cancer or anytime type of cancer, it’s not pretty. I don’t think anyone would purposely want their dogs to experience that pain. Or compromise their dog’s health.
Sometimes it takes a bit of a push to do something amazing. There’s a J.W. Stephens quote that fits perfectly with this situation. “Be the person your dog thinks you are!” So, if you or someone around you can’t quit for themselves, perhaps it’s the furry kid that will push them to kick the butt.