The American Legacy Foundation® and ASPCA® Urge Pet Owners to Safeguard Their Pets from a Silent Killer — Secondhand SmokeIf 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 www.becomeanex.org. To join or view the community of smokers who are quitting for their pets, visit: http://community.becomeanex.org/pg/groups/27185/quitting-for-our-pets/.