Pet cancers linked to second-hand smoke

Published: Mon 30 May 2016 04:24 PM
Pet cancers linked to second-hand smoke
SPCA Auckland urges pet owners to protect pets from second-hand smoke as World Smokefree Day approaches
As part of World Smokefree Day on 31 May, SPCA Auckland is calling for pet owners to learn about, and act to reduce, the health impacts of second-hand smoke on animals.
Smokefree NZ says family is a driving force for many people wishing to protect their loved ones from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke, however, SPCA Auckland’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr Arnja Dale says people may not realise smoking also causes serious harm to pets.
It has been proven that second-hand smoke increases health risks to pets and has been associated with cancers and respiratory infections, similar to the effect on humans. Studies[1] have shown that exposure to tobacco and second-hand smoke has been associated with certain cancers in dogs and cats, allergies in dogs, as well as eye, skin and respiratory diseases in birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, lizards and amphibians. It has also been proven to affect fish as the pollutants from smoke are absorbed into their water and can kill the fish.
“The best thing you can do to protect your family and pets from second-hand smoke is to stop smoking altogether. If you’re still working through the process of quitting, don’t smoke around your pets, inside or outside. Keep both your home and car smokefree to reduce the risk of cancers and serious smoke-related health problems for your family and pets,” says Dr Dale.
Effects of second-hand smoke on cats:
As cats lick themselves when grooming they ingest dangerous carcinogens from smoke that are absorbed by their fur, sometimes leading to oral cancer and lymphoma.
Cats in households with second hand smoke exposure are almost 2.5 times more likely to develop malignant lymphoma as cats with no exposure. The risk increases to 3.2 times more likely in cats exposed for five or more years.
Effects of second-hand smoke on dogs:
Dogs exposed to second hand-smoke are more likely to suffer from a range of diseases, including nasal cancer, lung cancer, asthma and bronchitis, than non-exposed dogs. The shape of a dog’s head plays a role in the types of cancer most likely to develop. Long-muzzled dogs, such as collies, are 250 per cent more likely to develop nasal cancer, since their nasal passages have more surface area on which toxins can accumulate. Breeds with short muzzles are more likely to develop lung cancer and other respiratory diseases.
For more information on World Smokefree Day and resources to help you quit smoking, visit

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