Governments and numerous health agencies have spent the last two decades raising awareness about the dangers of smoking. Citizens across the world have learned about what dangers smoking poses to their own health and the health of those around them. Secondhand smoke has been shown to have negative impacts on the health and well-being of those living with smokers.
Overlooked in all of these awareness campaigns has been the health and well-being of pets. Does your smoking pose a health risk to your dog?
According to available data from the ASPCA, there are 71 million pet owners in the United States, and about one-fifth of those people are smokers. Exposure to secondhand smoke kills an estimated 50,000 Americans each year. Additionally, there are as many as four million children living in homes where they are exposed to secondhand smoke and in many of these homes there are also dogs.
Numerous studies have found that dogs, as well as cats, face health risks similar to those of humans exposed to secondhand smoke. These risks include decreased lung capacity, sinus issues, and cancer.
Exposure to secondhand smoke has been found to cause a number of health problems in dogs living with smokers. Cardiovascular disease, asthma, chronic lung infections, eye problems, and respiratory disease are some of the illnesses that dogs suffer from as a result of secondhand smoke.
It is also possible for dogs to develop lung cancer or nasal sinus cancer. A study from the State of Colorado found that dogs living with smokers had a higher incidence of nasal cavity tumors than dogs living in a home with no smokers. Dog breeds with longer noses, such as Collies, face a significantly higher chance of contracting nasal sinus tumors and cancer compared to breeds with short to medium noses.
Experts believe this higher rate of occurrence is linked to the longer nasal passages in certain breeds. Those dogs with longer noses have a greater surface area in the sinus cavity for toxins and carcinogens to be deposited before reaching the lungs. Additionally, all dog breeds are at risk for lung cancer as a result of those carcinogens eventually reaching the lungs.
Cigarettes, cigars, and pipe tobacco release more than 4,000 chemicals in secondhand smoke. These chemicals include dangerous toxins like carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, arsenic, benzene, chromium, nickel, and vinyl chloride. Each of these toxins poses a serious threat to your dog’s health, increasing its risk for chronic illness and death.
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