Smoking and Your Pets Health

Smoking and your pets’ health

Your pets can suffer too

Smoking and your pets’ health

Your pets can suffer health effects from second-hand tobacco smoke, just like your other family members. In fact, the health issues affecting pets exposed regularly to tobacco smoke can be very similar to those seen in humans.

Watch this Quitline New Zealand video to find out just how easy it is to expose your beloved pet to dangerous second-hand smoke.


Dogs are prone to two different cancers related to tobacco smoke exposure. Long-nose breeds such as greyhounds, dachshunds and bull terriers get toxic cancer causing particles trapped in their noses, which leads to an increase in the risk of nose cancer (nasal cavity and sinuses). Short and medium-nose breeds like pugs, bulldogs, beagles and spaniels have a higher risk of lung cancer because fewer particles are trapped in the nose, enabling them to travel directly into the lungs. Regular second-hand smoke exposure has also been associated with greater occurrence of allergies, eye problems, and respiratory problems in dogs.


Cats breathe in dangerous cancer-causing particles from cigarette smoke. But they also ingest third-hand smoke (chemical residue from cigarette smoke left on surfaces) when they lick their fur, resulting in an increased risk of an aggressive form of mouth cancer. Cats that live with people who smoke are at a heightened risk of developing lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system, and respiratory disease.


Birds ingest cancer-causing particles when they preen their feathers or their owners’ hair. They are exposed to third-hand smoke when they perch on their owners’ clothing or hands and absorb the harmful particles through their feet. Resulting conditions include pneumonia, lung cancer, and heart problems. Allergies and feather plucking resulting from second-hand smoke exposure can be difficult to treat if the bird is not removed from the smoky environment.

Guinea pigs and rabbits

Small animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits exposed regularly to second-hand smoke can also become sick. The main risks are cancers, heart disease and respiratory problems, including emphysema.

Nicotine poisoning

If your pet ingests a cigarette butt, cigar butt, or liquid nicotine, take him or her to an emergency veterinary clinic as quickly as possible. Nicotine poisoning can be deadly for your pet. Symptoms can include vomiting, unsteadiness, drooling, tiredness, fast heart rate, shaking, weakness and seizures.

What you can do

The best thing you can do to protect your own health and that of your loved ones, including your pets, is to quit smoking. There is some great information about ways to quit smoking on the Quit your way page and if you are ready to quit smoking, visit the Planning to quit page.

If you are not ready to quit smoking just yet, make sure you don’t smoke around your pets. If you smoke in your home, your pets are at particular risk because they are closer to carpets and furnishings where dangerous chemical residues from cigarette smoke can be found. So make your home a smoke-free zone.

If your pet is ever a passenger in your vehicle, it will be exposed to toxic third-hand smoke that has left it’s residue on surfaces, even if you don’t smoke when your pet is in the vehicle. Have a smoke-free vehicle to protect all your passengers from second and third-hand smoke.

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