Looking for a good reason to give up smoking? If you won't quit for your own health, would you quit to improve the health of your pet? Pets that live with smokers may be three times more likely to develop cancer. Read on to learn more about how smoking may be killing your pet.
Looking for a good reason to give up smoking? If you won't quit for your own health or the health of your family, would you quit to improve the health of your pet?
It's no secret that secondhand smoke, also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), is associated with serious health risks for people, including heart disease, cancer, asthma and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). According to the American Lung Association, secondhand smoke has been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a known cause of cancer in humans. Environmental tobacco smoke contains hundreds of toxic or carcinogenic compounds, including formaldehyde and benzene! It makes sense that the same toxins that endanger human lives might also threaten the health of our pets.
Secondhand smoke exposure may actually be worse for the pet than for the smoker. Most people spend some time each day outside of the home while their pets stay put, breathing stagnant air and smoke that lingers in the environment for hours after a cigarette is extinguished. Veterinarians have suspected for years that pets of smokers are more likely to develop certain cancers and respiratory illnesses. Now there is data to back this up.
Lymphosarcoma is the most common feline cancer. It starts in the lymph nodes and spreads throughout the body. Studies suggest that cats who live with a smoker are twice as likely to develop lymphosarcoma as cats of nonsmokers, and three times as likely if they live with a smoker for more than five years. The risk is even higher if the cat lives with more than one smoker! There is also a higher incidence of the oral tumor, squamous cell carcinoma, in cats who live with a smoker. The carcinogenic particles settle onto the cat's fur and are then ingested during normal grooming behavior. On average, only 10 percent of cats diagnosed with this cancer will be alive one year later.
What about lung cancer and other respiratory diseases? A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology indicates that dogs who live with a smoker are more likely to develop lung cancer and long-nosed dogs such as Collies are at a higher risk for nasal tumors. Asthma is also believed to be linked to secondhand smoke but this has not been proven yet.
If you smoke the best way to eliminate your pet's exposure is to quit. If you are unwilling to quit but wish to limit the risk, one option is to only smoke outdoors. Remember, your pet cannot choose the quality of air they breathe so it is up to the responsible pet owner to provide a clean and safe home environment.
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