Even the most committed of smokers cannot fail to be aware of the wide range of health risks that accompany smoking, and the fact that these same problems can also affect other people who are around smokers regularly, due to the effects of what is known as second hand smoke.
Because smoking is well known to pose a serious risk to the health of both smokers and the people around them, there is a significant amount of public money spent every year on educating people on the dangers of smoking, and also, the dangers that smoke causes to other people, particularly children.
What many smokers are not aware of, however, is the fact that second hand smoke can affect pets such as dogs just as acutely as it can children and other non-smokers, and in fact, dogs are much more likely to succumb to illnesses related to second hand smoke than people are. This is due to both their smaller size, and the fact that pets are often overlooked when it comes to avoiding smoking around others.
In this article, we will look at how smoking around your dog can affect their health, the risk of lung cancer in dogs, and offer some advice on how to prevent your dog from being exposed to second hand smoke. Read on to learn more.
When someone smokes, the waste products of the cigarette (or pipe, cigar or other delivery method) are burnt off and not inhaled into the lungs of the smoker themselves. This means that the smoke in the air around the smoker, and their exhalations of inhaled smoke hang around in the air, where they are then breathed in by other people, and any pets that may be around too.
The health risks associated with second hand smoking are almost as acute as those attributed to actual smokers, and second hand smoke is responsible for a wide range of health problems in non-smokers such as the development of asthma, and other chronic health conditions.
Any time someone smokes around your dog, they will come into contact with second hand smoke. This means that if you smoke in the house where your dog lives, or smoke around them when you are taking them for a walk, they will be exposed to your second hand smoke.
Many smokers attempt to limit their dog’s contact with smoke by blowing the smoke away from the dog, smoking near a window or otherwise trying to ensure that the smoke itself does not cloud around their dog; but this is not enough. The visible tobacco smoke that you can see in the air when someone is smoking makes up only a small part of the combustible toxins within cigarettes and tobacco products, and just because you cannot see smoke hanging around your dog, does not mean that they are not inhaling the side effects of your own smoking.
Just like people, dogs can and sometimes do develop smoking-related illnesses, such as asthma and lung cancer. As dogs live shorter lifespans than people do, lung cancer poses a particular risk to dogs who are exposed to second hand smoke over the course of a few years, and the smaller the dog, the higher their risk; petite dogs such as the Chihuahua have a very small lung capacity, and so will be much more sensitive to smoke inhalation than their owners will.
Lung cancer tends to affect dogs that are aged over five years old, as chronic exposure to cigarette smoke takes time to build up and potentially, lead to the formation of a malignant tumour.
Like many forms of canine cancer, the symptoms that accompany the condition can be fairly generalised and hard to spot, but will generally include the onset of problems including weight loss, lack of tolerance for exercise, and a wide range of breathing-related problems like a persistent cough, a productive cough, canine asthma, or noisy or laboured breathing.
Any symptoms of problems that appear to be affecting your dog’s ability to breathe comfortably require veterinary diagnosis, and so particularly for smokers, contact your vet immediately if your dog begins displaying symptoms of a potential problem.
In order to protect your dog from the risk of their developing a smoking-related illness, you must take steps to end their potential exposure to all forms of tobacco smoke.
This means no smoking in the house, particularly in rooms that your dog uses, and not using the opportunity to walk your dog as a good time to puff away! Don’t take your dog to visit people who are going to smoke around them, and remember, the smoke that you can actually see in the atmosphere is just a small part of the toxic compounds generated by smoking, and so physical clouds of smoke are not the only risk presented by smoking.
Many people seeking to stop smoking or reduce the impact of their nicotine habit on the people and pets around them turn to e-cigarettes in place of tobacco, and whilst the safety of e-cigarettes on the whole is something that is still not definitively understood, vaping rather than smoking is widely thought to pose a much lower risk to others than combustible smoking.
However, if you do vape e-cigarettes, take care to keep the liquids that you vape well out of the reach of your dog; some of these liquids are sweetly scented or flavoured, which can encourage dogs to try to eat them, and if ingested, can quickly lead to poisoning and again, a significant health risk.