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Secondhand Smoke and Your Pet

Secondhand smoke is the smoke exhaled by smokers and the smoke that comes from the end of a lit cigarette or cigar. There are thousands of chemicals in secondhand smoke. Many are poisons that cause health problems.

When secondhand smoke is in the air, your pet is breathing it like they are smoking too. Even small amounts of secondhand smoke can affect your pet.

Toxins from secondhand smoke also get onto your pet’s fur or feathers and skin. When pets lick themselves, they ingest these toxins. Secondhand smoke also settles on furniture and carpet, further exposing your pets to toxins.

When pets are exposed to secondhand smoke, they may have many of the same problems that people do. Smaller animals such as birds, hamsters, kittens and puppies are at even greater risk.

Health Problems Include

  • Cancers – Dogs that inhale secondhand smoke are three times more likely to develop lung or nasal cancer than dogs living in smoke-free homes. Cats exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher rate of oral cancer and feline lymphoma.
  • Heart disease and cardiac abnormalities, skin problems and allergic reactions
  • Dogs may scratch, bite and chew their skin in reaction to secondhand smoke, which owners often mistake for problems such as fleas and food allergies
  • Bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma and breathing problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Protect Your Pet

  • Don’t smoke in the house or let others smoke around your pet. If someone is smoking, ask that they smoke at least 50 feet from your doors, windows and vents.
  • Don’t smoke in the car, even if your pet is not with you. The toxins can stay in the car and hurt them when they ride along.
  • After someone smokes, have them wash their hands before touching your pet to avoid getting nicotine and toxins on your pet.
  • Don't forget about cigarettes butts. Nicotine is a poison that can make a pet ill or die if swallowed. Clean ashtrays after use and always keep nicotine products out of reach of pets.

Free Quit Services

Secondhand smoke isn't just dangerous to people. It is also harmful to your pet. Consider quitting for your health and the health of your pet. Secondhand smoke has thousands of chemicals, hundreds that are toxic and over 60 that cause cancer. Consider quitting or helping others to quit.

Baltimore County wants to help. Learn about free quit services, including free nicotine replacement therapy products (patches, lozenges and gum).

Revised August 22, 2016         


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