It’s one thing for a smoker to risk their own health for the sake of continuing the habit, but evidence surrounding the impact on household pets may offer that extra motivation to quit smoking.
We already know that second-hand smoke can be harmful for friends and family members of a smoker, but another lesser-known harmful effect is the one on pets within the home.
After all, cats, dogs, and other animals breathe the same air as us, and are also susceptible to cancers. As well as certain cancers, tobacco smoke has been linked with eye and skin diseases in birds, and allergies in dogs.
It has also been suggested that pets may be affected by third-hand smoke, which is the toxins that get into household items such as carpets, curtains, and couches. As animals spend a lot of their time close to such soft furnishings, they may be more likely to ingest these chemicals.
Cats, in particular, could be at the most risk of harm in a household with a smoker. This is due to felines’ stringent grooming habits, as they carefully clean their own fur and ingest any chemicals found there.
That said, both cats and dogs are likely to drink water that’s been left out, and it’s not uncommon for pets living in smoking homes to accidentally ingest water that has held cigarette butts (such as in an ash tray outside filled with rain).
Dr. Carolynn MacAllister is a veterinarian at the Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service, and believes that those who wish to do the best by their pets would be better off by quitting smoking.
“If smoking is that harmful to human beings, it would make sense that second-hand smoke would have an adverse effect on pets that live in the homes of smokers. There have been a number of scientific papers recently that have reported the significant health threat that second-hand smoke poses to pets,” she said.