Pet Wellness - Second Hand Smoke and Your Dog

In this day and age we are well aware of the health hazards of smoking, as well as those from continuous second hand smoke. A pet wellness area new on the horizon these days is second hand smoke, which has come about due to several studies showing chronic exposure to second hand smoke also increases the incidence of lung disease and eye irritation in pets. These studies show that pets living in poorly ventilated areas and exposed to second hand smoke, have a high incidence of nasal and lung cancer.

Short nosed breeds such as Shih tzu's, Bulldogs and Pugs are at a higher risk of lung cancer due to the area in which the cancer particles attach themselves. The cancer particles are able to pass into the lungs before attaching themselves. In long nosed breeds the cancer particles attach within the lining of the nasal passages.

The primary culprit of the above diseases is chronic exposure to second hand smoke in poorly ventilated areas - not second hand smoke alone. With the harmful products found in smoke to be in the form of gas, it can take many hours for the smoke of a single cigarette to clear entirely. Ventilation systems cannot entirely filter out tobacco smoke.

Obviously for their own health all non smokers hope that smokers can find away to stomp out their habit of smoking - not an easy task we know, and many of us have friends and family that smoke and we watch them struggle as they desperately try to break their habit. And yes, now there is another good reason to quit - it is hazardous to your pets.

If you are a smoker and whether you are trying to quit or not, here are some pet wellness tips to help minimize your pets risk of nasal and lung cancer.

1. Help yourself and your pet even more by limiting your smoking to outdoors. I actually have friends that have found this tip to be an extra help to quitting. When you can't smoke in your own personal comfort zone, while carrying on with tasks at hand, it can reduce the amount of cigarettes you smoke per day.

2. Have a smoke free home, except for one room in which you smoke. The room needs to be keep ventilated, because smoke travels, so in order for this to work the room needs to consistently ventilated, and the door of the room kept closed to help keep the smoke contained as much as possible. If you own a dog such as a Saluki, or your pet has allergies, they can be extremely sensitive to second hand smoke, causing ear infections or ear agitation, itchiness and sneezing.

3. Consistent grooming will help to remove the smoke residue from your pets hair or fur. This is especially important in cats who lick and ingest the residue on their coats. Some veterinarians suggest vitamin C and other anti-oxidants to minimize the risk of cancer.

A Couple of Facts about Nicotine

1. The fact that nicotine alone is an extremely toxic poison often goes unmentioned. Nicotine is a poisonous alkaloid derived from the tobacco plant and used in medicine and as an insecticide. Not many people realize that nicotine is sold commercially in the form of a pesticide.

2. Ironically, the dizziness and nausea that a person experiences after smoking their first cigarette is actually a very mild case of nicotine poisoning.

Nicotine Toxicity in Pets

It is important that you protect your pet from nicotine toxicity by ensuring you do not leave around anything that has nicotine in it, including cigarettes, buds, ash trays, patches, etc. Even small amounts can induce toxicity symptoms. In large amounts - and just how large an amount can depend of the breed, weight and health condition of your pet - can be fatal causing paralysis of the breathing muscles in as little as a few hours. Puppies who are curious and get into everything are at a higher risk of ingesting nicotine within a smokers home, whether it be cigarettes, or anything else nicotine related. Make sure your trash is out of reach, especially when you leave your home.

If your pet ever exhibits any of the following symptoms, call your veterinarian.

Stumbling and/or in coordination
Lethargy (in high doses)
Fast breathing or difficulty breathing
Dilated pupils
Possible seizures
Either bradycardia (slow heart rate), tachycardia (high heart rate) and/or cardiac arrhythmias

The best prevention is to eliminate the source of nicotine. Keep cigarettes, cigars, and all nicotine products out of the reach of your pets. This includes ashtrays, chewed nicotine gum and used nicotine patches. Remember, even ash and used products still have residual nicotine. The amount of ingestion required for toxicity is a lot higher than with the unused product, but the potential for toxicity is still there. Practice these pet wellness tips to protect against smoke dangers and keep your pet well protected against nasal and lung cancer - at the same time, you will be contributing to better health, longer life and cleaner air for yourself and the world around you.

Have a look at what Dr. Karen Becker and Dr. Mercola have to say about the best strategy for pet owners wanting holistic care and health for their pets.

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