Yesterday was the first day of the Great American Smokeout, a yearly event that encourages Americans to stop smoking.

20% of the American population still smokes.  IF you or a family member are amongst the 20%, it’s important to know the impact that second hand smoke can have on your pet.

Studies from the United States, Brazil and Scotland demonstrate the impact of smoking on pets worldwide. According to Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, dogs and cats absorb measurable amounts of nicotine metabolites into their bodies when they live in a home with smokers.  The more smokers and smoking in the household, the higher the levels of nicotine metabolites found in the family pets.  Not only can the metabolites be measured, but if the lungs themselves are tested, deposition of carbon material, a byproduct of smoking, can bee seen.

Increased disease risk

Research has shown disease occurs in pets as a result of their exposure to tobacco smoke.

A recent study of dogs with a cough lasting greater than two months suggests dogs living in a household with a smoker are more likely to have a cough, but further research is necessary.   Oral squamous cell carcinoma, a deadly tumor in the cat, has been associated with exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.

The most common tumor in cats is lymphoma and the risk of developing lymphoma is tripled in cats living in a smoking household.

In dogs, environmental tobacco exposure increases the risk of nasal cancer and lung cancer.

For more information on The Great American Smokeout and the initiative for pets, visit blogs.webmd.com/pet-tales/2011/11/the-great-american-smokeout-is-for-pets-too.html.