Read: Smoking & Exotics-Crazy Critters
Crazy Critters

Read: Smoking & Exotics

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We don't adopt to family's that smoke.

Do you smoke? Have you thought about the adverse effect the habit is probably having on your pets’ health?

Small Animals, Exotic Pets and secondhand smoke

Birds & sugar gliders are extremely sensitive to air pollutants and are at risk for lung cancer and pneumonia when exposed to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke has also been found to cause heart problems in rabbits.

The nicotine in cigarettes is also highly toxic to pets if ingested, so keeping cigarettes out of the house entirely is always the best bet.

Dr. Becker's Comments:

It comes as no surprise that secondhand tobacco smoke is completely toxic to pets. Your dog and cat share some common physiology with you, so many things that are toxic to you are also toxic to them.

You have been hearing about the hazards of second-hand smoke for years. But chances are, you haven’t heard much about third-hand smoke.

A recent study from Harvard Medical School, published in the January 2009Journal of Pediatrics, found additional health risks associated with what they termed “third-hand smoke,” describing the invisible yet toxic brew of gases and particles clinging to smokers’ hair and clothing, cars, and carpeting that lingers long after the second-hand smoke has cleared the room.

Third-hand smoke is what you smell when a smoker gets into an elevator with you after going outside for a cigarette, or in a hotel room where people have been smoking.

Your nose is giving you fair warning to stay away!

The 2009 Harvard study found small children to be uniquely susceptible to this toxic residue, and the same can be said for your pets.

Not only is your pet breathing smoke-filled air, but he is lying directly on the carpet and furniture -- and on your lap -- and picking up anything clinging to it. Then he grooms himself, ingesting whatever toxic particles are present.

In most households, your cats and dogs can’t get away from polluted air, unless they are fortunate enough to have a “doggie door” that leads outdoors. Most animals are trapped, victims of their owners’ habits, and opening a window is not enough.

Studies Confirm, Tobacco Smoke is Bad News for Fido

Even very small amounts of inhaled smoke can have damaging effects on your pets.

  • A 2002 Tufts University study linked second-hand smoke to cancer in cats. The study found that cats living with smokers are twice as likely to develop malignant lymphoma—the most common feline cancer--as those in non-smoking households. Lymphoma kills 3 out of 4 afflicted cats within 12 months.

One reason cats are so vulnerable to the carcinogens in tobacco smoke is they are meticulous groomers. Daily grooming over a long period of time can expose their delicate oral tissues to hazardous amounts of carcinogens.

  • A 2007 University of Minnesota study showed that cats who live with smokers have nicotine and other toxins in their urine.

  • A 2007 Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine study linked second-hand smoke to oral cancer in cats (squamous cell carcinoma.) Cats living with more than one smoker and cats exposed to environmental tobacco smoke for longer than five years had even higher rates of this cancer.

  • A 1998 Colorado State University study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found a higher incidence of nasal tumors and cancer of the sinus in dogs living in a home with smokers, compared to those living in a smoke-free environment. The nasal/sinus tumors were specifically found among the long-nosed breeds such as retrievers and German shepherds. Unfortunately, dogs with nasal cancer do not usually survive more than one year.

  • The same study showed higher lung cancer rates in short to medium nosed dogs who live with smokers, such as boxers and bulldogs. Their shorter nasal passages made it easier for cancer-causing particles to reach the lungs.

  • Another study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that dogs in smoking households have a 60 percent greater risk of lung cancer.

Let’s not leave out our little feathered animal companions. Birds are not impervious to the damage from cigarettes.

A bird’s respiratory system is hypersensitive to any type of airborn pollutant. Dr. Carolynn MacAllister, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension Service veterinarian, states that the most serious consequences of smoke exposure in birds are pneumonia and lung cancer, but they can also develop eye, skin, heart and fertility problems. Coughing and wheezing are common reactions.

Birds lucky enough to be free of their cages but end up sitting on a smoker’s nicotine-coated hand often develop dermatitis and end up pulling out their own feathers.

Fortunately, in a 2008 study in the journal Tobacco Control, nearly one third of pet-parent smokers surveyed said information about the dangers of secondhand smoke to their pets would motivate them to try to quit smoking. So be sure to share this info with anyone you know who smokes. Believe me, they don’t want to one day get the call from their vet that we all fear — saying, “It’s malignant.”


Crazy Critters will not knowingly place an exotic pet in a home where they are guaranteed to suffer the effects of second hand & third hand smoking. Rather it be from the poison or from the fact that they will not bond to you because they dislike the chemical smell. All health guarantees are voided if some one in the family home smokes around the exotic pets.      


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