PDSA vets urge smokers to think before they light up in front of pets

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Smoking in front of animals has a devastating impact on their health – and the PDSA is urging all smokers to think before they light up in front of their pet.

The impact of smoking in front of pets can prove fatal, with research from the Royal College of Nurses (2017) revealing that second-hand smoke can result in dogs developing sinus or lung cancer, cats having an increased risk of developing lymphoma, and eye, skin and respiratory disease in birds, rabbits and guinea pigs.

It can also worsen bronchitis and asthma in animals already suffering from such health conditions.

But it’s not just inhaling smoke which harms pets.

Animals can in fact digest nicotine when licking their fur, according to a study by Glasgow University.

The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) used by vets for animal poisoning cases also highlighted the dangers of e-cigarettes – with 113 reported cases in one year alone. Jackie Fox from Glasgow witnessed the damaging effect her habit was having on her one-year- old cat Alvin when he developed asthma.

Vets at the PDSA Glasgow Shamrock Street Pet Hospital urged Jackie to stop or change her habits.

She said: “I noticed Alvin was really wheezy when breathing, so I took him to PDSA, and they told me my smoking could be affecting him. “He’s my baby, so I was horrified to think that my smoking could be harming his health. I used to smoke in the same room as him, but now I go outside and it’s incredible that after just a few weeks he already seems a lot better. The plan is to quit smoking now for my own health as well as Alvin’s.”

After the warning from the vets, Jackie immediately changed her smoking habits and now plans to quit altogether.

She added: “I’ve smoked for over 20 years, but I’m determined to stop to help my pets. I would urge other pet owners who smoke to consider giving up or at least going outside to reduce the exposure to the cigarette fumes.”

The PDSA says that pet owners can reduce the risk to their pets by either smoking outside or quitting altogether. PDSA Vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan said: “Many pet owners are unaware of the risks that smoking around their pets can have on their health.

“Recent scientific studies have found that family pets can be affected by passive smoking. Vets regularly see the devastating impact smoking can have on pets, from respiratory problems like asthma and chronic coughing through to more serious conditions such as cancers like lymphoma, which in cats is twice as likely if they have exposure to cigarette smoke.”

For more information on how to quit, visit www.nhs.uk/livewell/smoking