FDA veterinarian Carmela Stamper said 58 million people — and many more pets — who do not smoke are consistently exposed to secondhand or thirdhand smoke.
“Smoking's not only harmful to people, it's harmful to pets, too," Stamper said.
“Like children, dogs and cats spend a lot of time on or near the floor, where tobacco smoke residue concentrates in house dust, carpets and rugs,” Stamper added. “Then, it gets on their fur. Dogs, cats and children not only breathe these harmful substances in, but pets can also ingest them by licking their owner’s hair, skin and clothes.”
Did you know …
- that how tobacco smoke affects a dog depends on the length of the dog’s nose?
- that certain dog breeds are at increased risk of nose or lung cancer?
- that cats who live with people who smoke more than a pack of cigarettes a day have three times the risk of developing lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system?
- that your smoking can endanger your pet bird, guinea pig, and even your fish?
Learn more about the dangers smoking can pose to your pet and find some resources to help a smoker you know cut back on or quit smoking in the article “Be Smoke-free and Help Your Pets Live Longer, Healthier Lives,” on the FDA website.
This article appears on the FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.
- Wash or change your pet’s bedding regularly. If you smoke in the home or around your pet’s things, wash or change those things frequently. This includes your pet’s beds, leashes, collars, dishes, clothing, toys—even your own furnishings, carpets, floors and clothing—anything that can collect tobacco residue left behind after smoking and become harmful to your pet.
- Take your pet to a veterinarian for regular wellness checks. Just like regular check-ups with a doctor are important for us, regular visits to your veterinarian are the best way to stay on top of your pet’s overall health and wellness. A full veterinary evaluation at least twice a year—or more often if specific health concerns arise—can also identify signs or symptoms of health issues, including pet cancer, sooner rather than later.
- Groom or bathe your pet regularly. Just like your own clothing and hair, your pet’s fur is another place where tobacco residue can build up over time and be inhaled or ingested by your petparticularly those who groom themselves by licking. Regularly grooming or bathing can help reduce the presence of harmful toxins. Petco recommends bathing or grooming every 6-8 weeks, but if you smoke, your pet may benefit from greater frequency. Between grooms and baths, or immediately after smoking near your pet, you can use a wet cloth or pet wipe to quickly clean the surface of your pet’s fur.
- Dispose of cigarette butts properly—don’t let your pets eat them. This should be a no-brainer, but cigarette butts, ashes or any other leftover tobacco products can be harmful to your pet if chewed, licked or swallowed. If you or anyone else smokes around your pet, be sure to properly dispose of the remnants so they’re not accessible. Never leave ashtrays within your pet’s reach and be on the lookout for stray cigarette butts improperly disposed of by others, especially when walking outside with dogs.
- Don’t smoke around your pet or better yet, quit smoking! To more significantly reduce your pet’s exposure to harmful carcinogens found in secondhand and thirdhand smoke, don’t smoke near your pet, around their things, or in their home environments at all. If you must, smoke outside and wash your hands and face—even change your clothes if you can—before handling or touching your pet after smoking. This won’t eliminate your pet’s exposure altogether, but it can reduce the amount of smoke or tobacco residue they take into their bodies. Cut back if you can. Quitting is ideal.
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