April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month..

April 23, 2009 - People unwilling to quit smoking to improve their own health may consider giving up cigarettes to spare their pets the harmful effects of second-hand smoke or tobacco litter. By using tobacco you are risking the health of your pet. There is no safe level of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke which is a combination of the smoke that is exhaled by the smoker (secondhand smoke) and side stream smoke, the smoke that comes off the tip of the cigarette. Side stream smoke has higher levels of carcinogens than secondhand smoke because the smoke is formed at a lower temperature since the smoker is not pulling oxygen through the cigarette and the smoke is not filtered by either the cigarette's filter nor the smoker's body. Your pets lung are also smaller and are more easily damaged.

Household pets such as dogs and cats, are at increased risk of developing cancers when exposed to environmental tobacco smoke. Dogs have a higher rate of lung and nasal cancer when living with a smoker. For cats, secondhand smoke increases the risk of malignant lymphoma or cancer of the lymph nodes. The risk increased with the length of time the cat was exposed to smoke and the number of smokers in the household. Cats are also at increased risk for mouth cancer because of their daily grooming habits, expose the delicate tissues in the mouth to high levels of carcinogens from their fur.

Pets can also suffer or die, if they eat the tobacco in the cigarette. Cigarettes contain nicotine which when eaten, can cause vomiting, agitation, diarrhea and increasing breathing rate. If too much tobacco is eaten, the pet can develop weakness, muscle twitching, decreased breathing rate and finally collapse, coma and possibly die.

Twenty-eight percent of pet owners who smoke said in a survey they would try to quit based on knowledge that second-hand smoke could harm their dogs, cats and other pets, the researchers wrote in the journal Tobacco Control. Another 11 percent said they would think about quitting.

Scientific evidence suggests that secondhand cigarette smoke can cause cancer in companion animals.

Your pets don't just inhale smoke; the smoke particles are also trapped in their fur and ingested when they groom themselves with their tongues. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that dogs in smoking households had a 60 percent greater risk of lung cancer; a different study published in the same journal showed that long-nosed dogs, such as collies or greyhounds, were twice as likely to develop nasal cancer if they lived with smokers.

Veternarians from Tufts University found that cats whose owners smoked were three times as likely to develop lymphoma, the most common feline cancer.

A 2007 study done at the University of Minnesota shows that cats who live with smokers also have nicotine and other toxins in their urine.

A 2001 Colorado State University study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, showed that secondhand smoke can cause cancer of the sinus of dogs. This cancer is twice as likely in dogs with long noses, ch as Collies, Greyhounds and German Shepherds, probably because there is simply more tissue and cells exposed to cancer-causing particles called "carcinogens" as the smoke travels through their nose. Dogs with a short (Pugs) or medium nose are unfortunately not risk-free: in that study, they had a higher risk of lung cancer. Ironically, this may be because their shorter nose is less effective at filtering carcinogens before they reach their lungs. So ultimately, everybody dog breed is at risk, regardless of the length of their nose. Sounds like a lose-lose proposition for any dog breed. The Colorado researchers found toxins from cigarette smoke in dogs' urine. This is confirmed by a 2008 study at the Tufts vet school in Massachusetts.

Related news briefs: Poison Control Centers - Camel Dissolvables - Nicotine Toxicity..; For your pet's sake, keep your home and car tobacco-free..

Reference: Do it for Fido: smoker may quit to help a pet by Will Dunham- edited by Maggie Fox, Reuters, 2/10/2009; Stop smoking for the health of your dog or cat by
VJ Sleight, LA Smoking Examiner, examiner.com, 4/20/2009.

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