So Many Pets
Sixty-eight percent of U.S. households, or about 85 million families, own a pet, according to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). Most of those pets spend all of their time indoors, breathing, and sometimes ingesting, all of the same airborne pollutants that their owners do. Pets are affected three times more by secondhand smoke, house hold products, and outdoor pollutants in the home. These pollutants are more than irritating, they are dangerous!
Do You Smoke? Your Dog Does Too!
We already know the effects of smoking and secondhand smoke on human health, but what about your Beagle? Inhaling secondhand smoke has been linked to nasal, sinus and lung cancers in dogs, as well as cats. Smoke-borne toxins land on food and water dishes, waiting for your German Shepherd to have dinner or to get a drink, leading to eating and digestive problems like oral cancer and vomiting.
I Don’t Smoke I Vape
Is vaping (inhaling a vaporized solution that contains nicotine) a safer alternative? Maybe, but according to the American Lung Association, “the FDA tested a small sample [of e-cigarettes] and found a number of toxic chemicals, including diethylene gylcol — the same ingredient used in antifreeze.” That’s certainly not something that you want pets to inhale or lick off their fur.
Third Hand Smoke ?
Every cat owner knows that cats are meticulous, almost constant, groomers. If your Siamese is an indoor cat, she’s cleaning more than dirt and dust off her fur. Since your cat can’t stop these toxins from getting on her fur, she can’t stop “eating” them when she grooms. Third hand smoke is the residue that remains on skin, fur, clothing, furniture, etc., even after the air has cleared. Both of these categories can be combined under the term environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Cats are more than three times as likely to develop lymphoma, heart arrhythmia, or lung paralysis as were cats who were not exposed to ETS.
Many Other Pets Are Affected
Rabbits have a very sensitive respiratory system, and are at risk for lung cancer and pneumonia when exposed to secondhand smoke. Gerbils, hamsters and mice can develop liver and brain damage, as well as diabetes-like symptoms. Exotics like sugar gliders and ferrets can develop increased incidence of respiratory problems and irritated eyes. It isn’t just our little four-legged friends that are affected by living in a smoking household. Birds, fish, reptiles and other exotic pets are exposed just as much. Some birds can develop seizures from living in a smoking home. No fish can stop airborne chemical vapors being introduced into aquarium water through the aerator. The skin of many reptiles and amphibians is permeable, and many airborne, toxic vapors can be absorbed through their skin.
How can we pet owners provide clean air for our household companions? Many solutions to keeping the air in our homes clean and smoke-free for us will help keep the air clean and healthy for our pets as well:
- Install room air purifiers like the Maxum or whole house air filtration like the LAD2214 to remove smoke and toxic vapors from the air
- Use green, non-toxic cleaning products to wipe up chemical residues
- Clean the “forgotten” areas of the house (back corners of the closet, behind the washer and dryer, etc.) to improve your pet’s favorite spot for an uninterrupted nap
Healthier air means healthier pets that will share our homes, and our lives, for many years to come.