Second Hand Smoke - including Pot - Affects Pets and Ingestion can be fatal

Everybody knows at this point smoking isn't good for people's health, but its effects on pet health have not been frequently discussed.

My point: if you're going to smoke - whatever you smoke - be mindful of your pet's safety.

Heather Wilson-Robles, assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicin indicates that "There are studies that show that dogs exposed to large amounts of second-hand smoke have significant changes to their lung tissue over time....These changes range from fibrosis, or scarring of the lung tissue to precancerous and even cancerous lesions." This is true regardless of the product being smoked.

A study by Tufts indicates that second hand smoke may double the risk of lymphoma development in cats. Lymphoma is a deadly aggressive cancer responsible for the death of many cats as the survival rate is dismal.

Pets, like humans, can also develop allergies or asthma due to smoke and those allergies can be worsened by any type of  smoke. "For animals with asthma, allergic lung disease, or bronchitis you might see a dry hacking and progressive cough," said Wilson-Robles. "Asthma patients may have more frequent asthma attacks and their symptoms may be more difficult to manage medically."

Storing and/or disposing of tobacco or weed is hazardous to your pet if it's in a place like a trash can, on the ground or on a table where they can get at it; even the kitchen counter is within reach of large dogs, and certainly of cats. Ingestion of tobacco or weed products will cause sever GI upset, seizures and even death. Cigarette butts are especially dangerous due to the high content of nicotine there.

Foods with weed mixed or baked in are especially dangerous as those foods may be appetizing to a dog or cat, and if ingested may be lethal to them; they are much smaller than a human and cannot take the same dosage levels a human could tolerate.

If your pet has ingested tobacco or weed, call the 24 Hour/365 Days ASPCA Poison Control Hotline (888) 426-4435 immediately. Watching them be "stoned" is not "funny" - its life threatening. Even breathing second hand smoke from weed can be poisonous, not just eating the substance when its left out or mixed in with human foods the pet may try to eat.

Whether tobacco or weed, inhaled or ingested, the smaller the pet, the larger the detrimental impact to their health and potential for death. Remember you may be able to take it - and smoking is your choice -  but your pet doesn't have a choice, and even the largest dog is much smaller than you, so the impact on them is much greater than on you. 

As always, consult your Veterinarian.

Sources: Texas A&M, Pet Poison HelpLine, Cornell University