The Effects of Second Hand Smoke on Your Pet


Thinking about making a New Year’s Resolution? This year, remember your pets.

You’re probably already careful about where you smoke and who is with you. After all, the warnings about second-hand smoke aren’t new. But what about second-hand smoke and pets? Your pets don’t smoke, but they breathe the same air you do. So, if you smoke, your cat or dog is inhaling the same toxins from your cigarettes or cigars that you are.

Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, arsenic, benzene, chromium, nickel, and vinyl chloride. “As many of these pollutants are airborne, anyone nearby—including your pet—is experiencing a health risk from the second-hand smoke,” reminds Dr. Chip Coombs, Chief Veterinary Officer at Pets Plus Us.

Of course, the biggest smoking-related concern is cancer, but heart disease is a major threat, as well—not to mention respiratory diseases, chronic lung infections, and eye problems. We tend to think of these as human problems, but these conditions don’t just affect people—they can mean serious trouble for pets, too.  

Most pet owners want to do everything they can to protect their dog or cat from harm. It’s accidents people worry about most—that your pet will be hit by a car or eat a foreign object that has to be surgically removed. The truth is, if you have pet health insurance it’s far more likely you’ll have a claim for an illness than an injury—and claims for cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease are going up. Sometimes, there is nothing you can do to stop your pet from getting sick. But when there are steps you can take to avoid a problem before it starts, wouldn’t you want to keep your pet safe?

The moral of the story? “I’d urge you to quit, if you can. Not just for your own health, but for that of your pets, too,” says Dr. Chip. And if you’re not ready to make that pledge? “At least try to avoid exposing your pets to second-hand smoke—and that may mean smoking outside.”

Remember, as a pet owner, it’s not just your health you need to worry about—your pet’s lungs count too!