Unless you have been under a large rock for the last 30 years or so, you know that second-hand smoke is extremely harmful to anyone who is anywhere near a smoker. Second-hand smoke is of course the smoke exhaled by the smoker and the smoke from a cigarette or other tobacco product smoldering in an ashtray.
Now there is talk of third-hand smoke, the toxins from the burning of the hundreds of chemicals in cigarettes that is absorbed by upholstery, curtains, carpets, clothing, hair, and car interiors. Whenever the surface is disturbed, the toxins are freed to be inhaled by those near. Even if the smoker goes outside to feed their habit, they carry the smoke back into the house on their clothing and hair.
We naturally think of the real threat of harm that can be visited upon other humans by the air-borne poisons. Asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and lung cancer are just a few of the horrors that can result from exposure. However, how about Fido and Fluffy? Will second and third-hand smoke harm them? Let's take a look.
If your cats are like ours, they are basically part of the furniture. As such, they are one of the items vulnerable to the absorption of the particles. They then clean themselves by licking, which can result in cancer of the mouth, tongue, or throat. The smoke that they inhale can also lead to malignant lymphoma.
Interestingly, the type of cancer developed by dogs depends very much on the length of their nose. If the nose is short, the smoke is not filtered a great deal, and travels directly to the lungs, resulting in cancer there. If the nose is longer, cancers tend to form in the nose or throat in addition to the lungs.
It is said that the sense of smell of a dog is about 100 times better than that of a human. Can you imagine what you must smell like to your dog? Some breeds, such as bloodhounds, have a chamber where they accumulate scent molecules until they have enough to identify a particular smell. Supposedly, a bloodhound can tell if a certain neighborhood cat has walked by the house within the last couple of days. Not only that, but even if the pets escape the ravages of cancer, they can develop bronchitis and asthma.
So, you decide to switch to “vaping”, using electronic cigarettes as a pacifier that happens to satisfy your nicotine hunger. Well, an FDA study in 2009 revealed toxic chemicals that can cause cancer, including an antifreeze ingredient. Many of them produce formaldehyde, the substance used in embalming. Like regular cigarette smoke, these will be inhaled and ingested by the little four-footed creatures that live with you.
So again, do you love your pets? Do you love them enough to quit smoking? Do you love them enough to forbid smoking in or near your home? I truly hope so.
Now, next question…do you love your children? Your grandchildren? Just askin’…