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Mary Ella’s Weekly Message
August 1, 2011
Secondhand Smoke and Pets
Twice now I have adopted a dog from the local rescue organization. I’m pictured here with my dog, Jax. He’s a Bichon Frise that is as sweet as can be, loyal, loving and he can leap tall buildings in a single bound. One of the best things I’ve ever done for myself is adopt my dogs. Jax is my four-legged best friend and he is a constant source of entertainment. If you have a pet, you probably feel exactly the same way. Pets become members of our family and are loved just as much, sometimes more, than our human friends and relatives.
Research has shown that petting animals actually lowers blood pressure. Pets are good for us and to us, and in turn we need to be good to them.
What do pets have to do with becoming smokefree? A growing body of research shows that there are no safe levels of exposure to secondhand smoke for humans or animals, according to the ASPCA. Quitting for the health of your pets is another great reason to add to your list of Reasons to Quit Smoking.
Consider these facts:
- Dogs that inhale secondhand smoke are three times more likely to develop lung or nasal cancer than dogs living in smokefree homes.
- Dogs can experience allergic reactions to secondhand smoke, such as scratching, biting, and chewing of their skin. This is often confused with flea symptoms or food allergies.
- Birds can develop eye problems as well as other respiratory problems like coughing and wheezing.
- Birds that sit on a smoker’s hand can experience contact dermatitis from the nicotine that remains on the skin and this can cause them to pull off their feathers.
- Cats have a higher rate of oral cancer when exposed to secondhand smoke which may be due to the way they groom themselves.
- Cats have a higher rate of feline lymphoma, a deadly form of cancer, than cats not exposed to secondhand smoke.
- Cats can develop respiratory problems, lung inflammation and asthma as a result of secondhand smoke.
If you are now smokefree, but others in your household are not and you have a pet, share this information with them. Ask them to keep the house smokefree. That will not only protect your pets, but any humans in the house as well.
Secondhand smoke is not the only danger pets experience in their homes when their owners or others smoke. Pets are curious creatures and they often eat things that are lying around. Eating 1-5 cigarettes or 1/3 of one cigar can be fatal to a pet. Drinking water that contains cigarette butts can also be harmful as toxins leak out into the water.
Be mindful to keep any nicotine replacement medications, such as gum and patches, out of the reach of your pets, and children. Put any used gum, patches or other medications in closed trash receptacles so that curious pets can’t get into them. If you suspect that your pet may have ingested tobacco products or nicotine replacement medications, take your pet to the veterinarian immediately.
This week, enjoy the company of your pet while you’re becoming smokefree.
- If you get a strong urge to smoke, groom your pet instead.
- If you have a dog, take him for a walk. It’s good for you and for him!
- Spend some time cuddling with your pet. If you have a cat or a lap dog, give them a good rub while they sit on your lap. Your pet will love you for it, and you’ll lower your blood pressure at the same time
I’ll see you on the Message Boards! :-) Mary Ella
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