Monday, January 23, 2012

Quit for Your Pets

So you don't have any children and you live alone -- so what's the big deal if I smoke in my house? 

It's a big deal if you have pets. 

Recently, one of my clients told me that her family dog, the one she grew up with, died from a malignant tumor in his nose, most likely induced because there were six smokers in the house. So I thought I'd learn something more about this. Are you hurting your pets? 

You better believe you are.

Quitting smoking will not only reduce risks of cancer and other diseases in smokers, it will reduce the risks in your dog or cat. (and probably your ferret, parrot or monkey, too, but I couldn't find studies on those animals)
Studies clearly indicate that exposure to environmental factors, such as second-hand tobacco smoke has devastating consequences for cats, increasing their likelihood of contracting lymphoma.  In a study done by Tufts University and the University of Massachusetts, a cat exposed to second hand smoke had double the risk of getting lymphoma.  If the cat had lived with a smoker for five years or more, the risk tripled.

Researchers at Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital found that dogs exposed to second hand smoke were 1.6 times more likely to get cancer. The most common form of cancer was nasal cancer. Most dogs with nasal cancer will not live longer than a year after diagnosis.

And your dog and cats don't just inhale smoke; the smoke particles are also trapped in their fur and ingested when they groom themselves with their tongues.

Mary Suchowiecki, a veterinarian at Just Cats in Stamford, CT, says she is sees other serious conditions in her patients that live with smokers. “I see many cats with asthma and other respiratory ailments that are caused by second-hand smoke.”  

Dr. Suchowiecki says that allergies can be caused by second-hand smoke, too, so that the animal is miserable. “Atopic, or inhalant, allergies are common with both cats and dogs. Breathing in, or directly contacting, airborne particles in the environment, including tobacco smoke, will activate atopic allergies.” The symptoms may include respiratory problems, but cats and dogs more typically develop itchy skin – to the point that they are ripping their fur and leaving bald spots. She continues, “I tell the owners, ‘Even if you smoked cigarettes outside, your cat can be sensitive to the smoke on your clothes. The best cure is no exposure at all. Quit smoking.’”

So many smokers tell me that they smoke to reduce their stress, but they are profoundly mistaken. Smoking doesn’t reduce stress; your heart rate and blood pressure goes up when you smoke. 

Spending quality time with your pet will, absolutely, reduce your stress; whereas smoking could reduce the life span of your pet, as well as your own.