Do You Smoke? Do You Have Dogs?
Today is National No Smoking Day in the UK
No Smoking Day is an annual health awareness day, which started in 1984 to help smokers who want to quit smoking.
It is really great to learn that of the 28 EU Countries, the UK has the second lowest prevalence of smoking in adults, alongside Sweden at 17% (according to the National Statistics, NHS Statistics on Smoking published in 2017). The highest rate of smoking in EU Countries, with rates above 30%, are Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey.
In 2000, 26.8% of adults (over 16) in the UK were smoking, this has decreased to 15.5% in June 2017 down from 19.9% in 2010. It is perhaps heartening to read that there has been a steady decrease, over time, in the proportion of secondary school pupils who thought it was OK to try smoking from 54% in 1999 to 26% in 2014.
Effects of Smoking
Everyone knows the effects of smoking on our health, everyone knows that it is bad for you, especially since the advertising on cigarette packets becomes more gruesome every year.
But have you ever thought about how smoking affects our pets? I have, because my husband is a smoker and I am not. Yes, I hate it but he smoked when I met him and has smoked since he was a boy, he enjoys smoking and has no inclination to give it up. It does amaze me that he smokes, he is real germophobe and very hygienic. Smoking, to me, is dirty and smelly (the ash, the smell, the yellowy tinge) it doesn’t conjure up cleanliness and healthy environment!
When we first met it wasn’t really a problem for me, as we didn’t live together, when we rented our first flat, he didn’t really smoke in the flat so I never really noticed it at all. Now we have our own house, he smokes only in the kitchen, but it really is noticeable to me, especially during the winter months because we can’t leave the doors and windows open all day, like we do in the summer.
I hate it because the smoke seems to permeate everything and everywhere, no matter what I try to do! We have scented candles burning, open the window (even in the winter) and have a massive air purifier going all the time, but it still manages to seep upstairs, into my clothes and my hair (I’m sure people must think I smoke!).
Also, I really notice it when the dogs come upstairs, first thing in the morning, for a cuddle with me in bed. Their fur really stinks of smoke, it got me wondering what are the second-hand effects of smoking on dogs? Does anyone know?
The Effects of Second-Hand Smoking on Dogs
If smoking is harmful to humans, it would make sense to suggest that second-hand smoking could have an adverse effect on our pets in the home. A study, by the University of Glasgow, shows a direct link between the effect on pets living in a smoking environment and a higher risk of health problems, because they spend more time in the home and are closer to carpets where carcinogenic particles can linger.
Besides second-hand smoke, the ingestion of nicotine, which can be dangerous in itself. Additional health risks are associated with ‘third-hand smoke’, a term describing the invisible, yet toxic gases and particles clinging to smokers’ hair, clothing, in cars and carpeting which lingers long after second-hand smoke has cleared the room. If you can ‘smell’ the smoke then you are surrounded by third-hand smoke and third-hand smoke particles are thought to be more carcinogenic than second-hand smoke.
Professor Clare Knottenbelt at the University of Glasgow’s Small Animal Hospital, said, “Our findings show that exposure to smoke in the house is having a direct impact on pets.”
Smoking and Dogs
All of the above factors suggest that pets are probably exposed to greater amounts of passive smoke than humans.
Findings at The University of Glasgow show that pets who have exposure to smoke are at risk of ongoing cell damage which could increase the risk of;
- Certain cancers such as nasal cancer, lung cancer, long bone cancer,
- Heart disease,
- Allergic skin reactions,
- Respiratory illnesses such as an allergy to tobacco smoke and
- Weight gain.
They observed that dogs living with a smoker gained more weight, after neutering, than those in a non-smoking household. By examining the testicles of male dogs, after they were castrated, a gene that acts as a marker of cell damage was high in dogs living in smoking home than those that did not. The effect on the gene was reduced when owners chose to smoke outside to reduce their pet’s exposure but didn’t eradicate the effects completely.
Protecting Your Pet
Whilst the best thing for you, other members of the household and your dog, is to stop smoking altogether, this is not as easy for some to do. I struggle to understand why you wouldn’t want to stop, after learning how second, and third, hand smoking is more dangerous for your dog, than it is for you. Especially, as we already know the effects it has on humans.
So to lower the risks to you and your dog, whilst you are trying to quit smoking, you can take the following steps to minimise the presence of second, and third, hand smoke in the home;
- Do not smoke in the house, or car, anymore, smoking outside will prevent a great deal of smoke particles from settling in the home or car, reducing the toxic load greatly on your dog.
- Do not smoke whilst cuddling your pet.
- Use a high-quality air purifier in your home (we use this one, but there are smaller ones, do research on the right size for your house).
- Change your clothes, wash them frequently or air them outside.
- Wash your hands after smoking and before touching your dog.
- Wash your hair frequently and bathe your dog frequently to remove any residue from their fur.
- Keep ashtrays clean, and away from dogs.
- Dispose of cigarettes etc in bins that can’t be accessed by dogs.
Whilst all of the above will reduce your dog’s exposure to the effects of smoking, the best option is to stop smoking completely, for you and your dog’s health and wellbeing. The good news is that the damage from smoking lessens with time once you have stopped.
So what are you waiting for?
Get me well so I can get on television and tell people to stop smoking ~ Nat King Cole