Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Secondhand Smoke Harms Pets

LOS ANGELES—Ten years ago, Shirley Worthington rushed Tigger to the vet when the dog’s mouth started bleeding. When she was told he had cancer, she knew to blame her heavy smoking, an addiction she couldn’t kick until after her pet died.

Secondhand smoke can cause lung and nasal cancer in dogs, malignant lymphoma in cats and allergy and respiratory problems in both animals, according to studies done at Tufts University’s School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts, Colorado State University and other schools.

The number of pets that die each year from tobacco exposure isn’t available, but vets know from lab tests and office visits that inhaling smoke causes allergic reactions, inflammation and nasal and pulmonary cancers in pets, said Dr. Kerri Marshall, the chief veterinary officer for Trupanion pet insurance.

Despite Worthington’s certainty about the cause of her dog’s death, more research needs to be done before veterinarians can definitively say whether a dog’s cancer was caused by secondhand smoke or something else, said Dr. Liz Rozanski, whose research at Tufts College focuses on respiratory function in small animals.

Worthington, 52, of Brooklyn, N.Y., said she had been a smoker as long as she had Tigger, who was 8 when he died in 2004. A year later, Worthington, her mom and sister all quit in honour of the bichon frise.

Then, in 2007, Worthington’s mom died while suffering from cancer.

“Cigarettes took my mother,” she said. “And they took my dog.”

Pets aren’t mentioned in this year’s report by the U.S. surgeon general, but in 2006, it said secondhand smoke puts animals at risk. The Legacy Foundation, the largest non-profit public health charity in the States, encouraged smokers to quit for the sake of their pets, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals urged making homes with pets smoke-free. Read the entire article

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