Secondhand Smoke Doubles Cat Health Risk
Everyone has heard warnings about the effects of secondhand smoke around people, especially children, but what happens to our furry friends when they’re exposed to it? Researchers at Tufts University’s School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts have found that repeated exposure to smoke doubles a cat’s chances of getting malignant lymphoma.
Exactly how many pets die from being exposed to tobacco is unknown. According to Dr. Kerri Marshall, chief veterinarian officer for Trupanion pet insurance, inhaling smoke can cause intense allergies, inflammation and nasal and pulmonary cancers.
Although pets aren’t mentioned in the latest Surgeon General’s Report, it did mention in 2006 that smoke puts animals at risk. The nation’s biggest nonprofit public health charity, The Legacy Foundation, tries to inspire smokers to quit for the sake of their pets, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals advocates keeping a smoke-free house when pets dwell within.
One of the leading causes of cat death is lymphoma. According to the Tufts research, repeated exposure to smoke doubled a cat’s chances of getting the cancer. Also, living with a smoker for more than five years increased the risk by four times. As in humans, smoke can also cause a fatal mouth cancer in your pet.
As far as tobacco companies go, they acknowledge smoking risks in humans, but they haven’t mentioned pets.
Philip Morris USA’s website states the company believes cigarettes cause diseases and aggravates others in non-smokers and that the problems warrant caution. “We haven’t taken a stand on the potential impact on pets,” says David Sylvia, spokesperson for Altria Group, the parent company of Philip Morris.
If you notice the symptoms of cancer in your cat – coughing, little appetite, trouble eating or breathing, drooling, vomiting, nasal discharge bleeding and sneezing – take him or her to the vet right away. Morris Animal Foundation, a Denver-based organization that has been funding pet-cancer research since 1962, says these are key warning signs.
Keep in mind that electronic cigarette vapor still contains nicotine, which is highly poisonous in animals. Along those lines, the biggest danger for your cat is the nicotine used in the cartridges.