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Mary Ella’s Weekly Message
August 6, 2010
Secondhand Smoke and Pets
One of the best things I’ve ever done for myself is adopt my dog from the local rescue organization. She is truly my four-legged best friend and she brings much joy into my life. If you have a pet, you probably feel exactly the same way. Our pets become members of our family and are loved just as much (if not more!) than our human friends and relatives.
Research has shown that petting our animals actually lowers blood pressure. Our 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 for 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, and end up scratching, biting, and chewing their skin. This is often confused with flea symptoms or food allergies.
- Birds can develop eye problems as well as respiratory problems like coughing and wheezing, from secondhand smoke.
- Birds that sit on a smoker’s hand can experience contact dermatitis from the nicotine that remains on the skin. This can cause them to pull out their feathers.
- Cats that are exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher rate of oral cancer, 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 that are 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. Not only will this protect your pets, but any humans in the house as well.
Secondhand smoke is not the only danger that 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 to 5 cigarettes or 1/3 of one cigar can be fatal to a pet. Drinking water that contains cigarette butts can also be harmful, because toxins will leak out into the water.
Using FDA-approved medications to help you quit smoking is recommended by the US Department of Health and Human Services. Combining a FDA-approved medication with a behavior modification program, such as FFS Online, gives you the best chance of staying smokefree for good. It’s important that you and your doctor decide what medications will be best for you prior to your Quit Date. That way you can have them ready and start using them as directed at the right time. Be careful to keep any nicotine replacement medications, such as gum and patches, out of the reach of your pets. Make sure that you throw away used gum, patches or other medications in closed trash receptacles so that curious pets can’t get them.
If you think that your pet may have swallowed 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 her for a walk. It’s good for you and for her!
- 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!
Don’t forget the 4 D’s for yourself:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Delay. Don’t give in to the urge, it will pass.
- Deep breathe. It’s an easy and simple way to relax. Download the Deep Breathing Relaxation Exercise.
- Do something else. Distract yourself by changing your activity.
I’ll see you on the Message Boards! :-) Mary Ella
Don’t forget: If you’re in the Premium program and want help fast on the Message Boards, put “HELP NOW” in the subject line of your post. If you’re looking to offer help, watch for those, “HELP NOW” posts and alert your other FFS Online buddies to offer some assistance as well.