Losing weight. Finding love. Work on increasing your savings account. All very common New Years resolutions. The most common, however, is always to stop smoking. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that secondhand smoke is attributed with killing thousands of adult non-smokers yearly. I’ve never had to stop smoking, but on my 16 birthday, my dad made the pledge to stop, not only for his health but for the health of his children and people around him. Children and grandchildren are a great reason to stop smoking, but so are pets. More and more evidence is coming forward about just how dangerous secondhand smoke is to the animals that share our homes.
A recent study from Tuft College of Veterinary Medicine found a very strong correlation between secondhand smoke and some forms of cancer in cats. The most common one that was found was a certain form of mouth cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. This particular cancer was found at a larger number in animals living in smoking environments than in non-smoking households. The numbers rose even higher in cats that were living with a smoker for five or more years.
One of the reasons cats are so susceptible to these cancers are because of their grooming habits. Cats are constantly grooming themselves, therefore they are licking up all of the cancer-causing carcinogens that accumulate on their fur. Dogs are more susceptible to cancers of the nose and sinus area. Colorado State University recently conducted a study that showed that dogs living in smoking environments had a higher percentage of nasal tumors than those who were living in non-smoking environments. The increased incidence was specifically found among the long nosed breed of dogs. Shorter and medium nose dogs showed higher rates for lung cancer.
Secondhand smoke is not the only danger faced by pets that live in smoke filled environments. Poisoning is another common risk. Curious pets can eat cigarettes and other tobacco products if they aren’t stored properly. When ingested, this can cause nicotine poisoning, which can be fatal.
The best choice that could enhance your chances of enjoying a healthier lifestyle with your family and pets would be to stop smoking all together. Cheers to a happy and healthy 2012!