Tobacco is Toxic for Toto, Too


The American Legacy Foundation® and ASPCA® Urge Pet Owners to Safeguard Their Pets from a Silent Killer — Secondhand Smoke

If you are a smoker and love your dog, there is one VERY important thing you can do to save Toto’s life and yours too: quit smoking. A growing body of research – including the Surgeon General’s Report – shows there are no safe levels of exposure to secondhand smoke – for humans and for animals.

An estimated 50,000 Americans lose their lives to secondhand smoke (“SHS”) annually and 4 million youth (16 percent) are exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes. A number of studies have indicated that animals, too, face health risks when exposed to the toxins in secondhand smoke, from respiratory problems to allergies and even cancer.

Toxins in secondhand smoke can cause lung and nasal cancer in dogs and malignant lymphoma in cats, along with allergy and respiratory problems in other pets. One recent study shows that nearly 30 percent of pets live with at least one smoker – a number far too high given the consequences of exposure to SHS.

In honor of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month this April, Legacy and the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) are challenging pet owners to quit smoking for their pets’ health. They are asking smokers with pets to “take it outside” or even better, kick the habit altogether.

“While most Americans have been educated about the dangers of smoking to their own bodies and their children’s, it is equally important that pet owners take action to protect their beloved companion animals from the dangers of secondhand smoke,” said Dr. Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH, President and CEO of the Legacy, the national independent public health foundation dedicated to keeping young people from smoking and providing resources to smokers who want to quit.

The ASPCA, one of the oldest and largest animal welfare organizations in the world, lists tobacco smoke as a toxin that is dangerous to pets. “Tobacco smoke has been shown to contain numerous cancer-causing compounds, making it hazardous for animals as well as humans,” said Mindy Bough, Vice President of ASPCA Animal Poison Control. “Exposure to secondhand smoke can cause many of the same harmful inflammatory changes in the airways and lungs of dogs as their human counterparts.”

“Nicotine—found in cigarettes and other tobacco products—is also highly toxic to animals if ingested,” said Bough. “A dog that accidentally eats tobacco may develop weakness, decreased breathing rate, and could possibly die. The ASPCA strongly recommends keeping your pet away from tobacco as well as secondhand smoke.”

Legacy and the ASPCA are optimistic that pet owners who smoke will be motivated to quit once they learn about the dangers of SHS to their pets. At the very least, smoke outside and preserve the lungs of your two- and four-legged family members.

Legacy provides resources and information to smokers who want to quit for good through a national campaign called EX® – as in EX-smoker. EX encourages smokers to approach quitting smoking as “re-learning life without cigarettes,” which may include putting that cigarette out the next time you take Toto for a walk! For more information visit To join or view the community of smokers who are quitting for their pets, visit:


About Author

Devoted pet owner and now, devoted pet editor, Judi spent her time working in traditional offices, keeping the books and the day-to-day operations organized. Taking her dog to work every day for over a decade never seemed odd. Neither did having an office cat. She knows what it's like to train a new puppy and she's experienced the heartache of losing beloved companions.


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  2. Well that is just common sense right? Well not really, I doubt many people think about not smoking in the area where their pets are! Thanks for such an eye opener. People are always so cautious not to smoke around others, but this should include pets too!

  3. Great information, having grown up in a smokers house hold my farther was not educated in the dangers of second hand smoke. So, Me, my siblings and dog were exposed on a regular basis. It is important for smokers to know that not only is it bad for them but it also effects the humans and pets. No good comes from smoking.

  4. A very informative blog, one that I will be sharing. I don’t smoke and never thought of the consequence of second hand smoke effecting your pets. My company centers around lost pets and their recovery, being so absorbed in that mission, I never even thought of this problem. I believe that all pet lovers should be interested in any facet of pet care and help spread the word to cause public awareness. Thanks for opening my eyes……PetVoice

  5. I’m glad that there are people increasing the awareness of the harmful effects of smoking. I’m a smoker myself but i do intend to quit. I’m sure there are many more like me, and informing them of the harmful effects of smoking on their pets will definitely help them in giving up smoking.

  6. Working in the ER Veterinary Clinic for many years- this is a common toxicity that we see. I just wanted to point out another complication of cigarette ingestion by your pet. If you have a small enough pet – a cigarette butt can also cause intestinal blockage, and require expensive abdominal surgery. Just something to think about, even when walking your dog. These cigarette butts tend to be all over the ground (people so love to use the earth as there trash can). Right where your little 4 legged loved one has his nose…

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