At the vet's office the other day, a hurried dog owner left, the sour smell of old cigarettes wafting behind him. Staff all shook their heads.
Secondhand smoke is as dangerous to dogs as it is to people, observed a veterinarian at Gentle Care in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Dogs (and cats) have been treated for emphysema, lung cancer and other diseases associated with tobacco smoke. In addition to breathing secondhand smoke, noted another staff member, the fur of smokers' pets is impregnated with residue -- all the gunky stuff you see along the ceiling in a smoker's home. Dogs lick their fur and ingest carcinogens.
Dr. Carolynn MacAllister, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service veterinarian, is quoted in an article in Science News, “There have been a number of scientific papers recently that have reported the significant health threat secondhand smoke poses to pets. Secondhand smoke has been associated with oral cancer and lymphoma in cats, lung and nasal cancer in dogs, as well as lung cancer in birds.”
Parents probably wouldn't smoke a cigarette with a child in their lap, but pet-owning smokers often don't have the same inhibitions. Even if a dog owner steps out into the warm Miami evening for a late cigarette, they will transfer contaminants to their pet on fingertips and clothing.
The prognosis for dogs with cigarette-related illnesses is very poor. Nasal cancer is generally a death sentence within one year. The same is true of other tobacco-related cancers.
Dogs can also be poisoned if they ingest cigarettes or other tobacco products. Nicotine poisoning can be fatal.
Dogs should be free to be smoke free. Their people would reap the health benefits as well.