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We’re not here to boast about the benefits of quitting smoking. If you’re a smoker, you’ve already heard it all. But, you should consider the effects your habit may have on your dog if he/she is exposed. So, can second-hand smoke affect your dog? Sure can!
A Brief Overview
Second-hand smoke, also known as Environmental Tobacco Smoke or ETS basically comes from anything that is smoked such as cigars, cigarettes, and pipes. ETS is a carcinogen that causes cancer not just in humans but animals as well.
Aside from cancer, second-hand smoke is also associated with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, asthma, chronic lung infections, and eye problems. ETS has been thoroughly studied where humans are concerned, but not as much research has been done for companion animals. Studies show that tobacco smoke comprises up to 20 different carcinogens that can be readily inhaled by non-smokers. ETS contains the smoke that is released by a burning cigarette, pipe, or cigar, as well as those that are exhaled by the smoker themselves. There are more than 4,000 chemicals found in second-hand smoke including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, arsenic, benzene, chromium, nickel, and vinyl chloride.
In dogs, second-hand smoke has been found to be greatly associated with nasal sinus cancer and also linked with lung cancer. A study conducted at the State of Colorado reveals that there is a higher incidence of nasal cavity tumors in dogs that were exposed to ETS as compared to dogs that live in households with non-smoking members. This conclusion was particularly found amongst breeds with long noses such as Collies. There were no significant nasal tumors amongst dogs with short to medium noses exposed to second-hand smoke.
Experts indicate that long-nosed breeds are more at risk because their nasal passages consist of greater surface area on which the carcinogens can be deposited before it reaches the lungs. Also, they pointed out that because their nasal passages have more cells, there is a greater chance that some of these cells get mutated by carcinogens into cancer cells.
The same study mentioned that despite the fact that dogs with short to medium noses exposed to ETS do not have a great nasal tumor risk as compared to those unexposed, they, nonetheless, have a slightly greater incidence of lung cancer. This is likely because their shorter nasal passages tend to be less effective at filtering the said carcinogens out of breathed-in air before it enters the lungs. Unlike human beings who can develop bladder cancer as a result of second-hand smoke exposure, dogs generally do not run a higher risk of bladder cancer when exposed to these harmful elements.
As a pet owners’ bond with their four-legged companions become stronger, they share more of their lives, their leisure time and their living space with their pets, thereby exposing them to the same environmental hazards that they do. Many human habits, including smoking, can affect animals just as they can affect the other members of the household. By designating a separate room in the house or smoking only outside, you can minimize exposure for your pooch as well as the other non-smoking members of the family.