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Passive smoking doesn’t only harm human health, it has recently been suggested that it also poses a potential danger to pets.

Recent research carried out by a team at the University of Glasgow found that dogs, cats and small animals such as guinea pigs and birds could be just as much at risk from second-hand smoke as people. Other studies have shown similar findings.

So why are pets at high risk of passive smoking?

Many pets love to snuggle up with their owners or stay close, so they breathe in more smoke as a result. They usually spend more time in the house than their owners, lounging on carpets and furniture covered in carcinogenic particles. Those particles can also settle on their fur, so pets – particularly cats – can then ingest them as they groom themselves. Aside from the risks, the smell of tobacco smoke can also be unpleasant for pets as they have far more powerful senses of smell than humans. Second-hand smoke might also exacerbate conditions like bronchitis and asthma.

What are the dangers of passive smoking to dogs?

There is evidence to suggest that tobacco smoke increases the risk of nasal cancers in dogs. But not all cases of these types of cancer in dogs will be down to passive smoking. Whether you are a smoker or not, it’s important to keep your eye out for breathing difficulties or severe nasal discharge in your pet as this could be a sign of respiratory cancer, although it’s rarely the cause.

What are the dangers of passive smoking to cats?

Cats are more at risk than other pets due to self-grooming which means they can ingest the toxic particles. This, and regularly inhaling second-hand smoke, could possibly increase the risk of blood cancer lymphoma and mouth cancer.

What can I do to protect my pet if I smoke?

Not smoking around your pet is the only way to protect them completely. Smoking outdoors will help and having a cigarette in a different room will reduce the amount of smoke that they inhale, but not solve the problem as the particles will still remain on your clothes and any furniture nearby. Good ventilation to avoid smoky air stagnating is crucial and regular vacuuming of soft furnishings will also help lessen the amount of potentially dangerous particles in the home.


We’ve got lots of information on other reasons to quit smoking on our website or get in touch for further support.

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Please note that the figures above are simply an indication of how much you could save based on the cost of a packet of cigarettes and your daily intake.