There’s a reason smoking has been banned in all federal buildings and in many public places, including bars, restaurants, stadiums, and casinos.  These laws were not enacted to protect smokers from themselves, but rather non-smokers, who can be harmed by environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), better known as second-hand smoke.

How harmful is it?

According to the American Cancer Society, ETS causes an estimated 35,000 deaths each year. Most of these premature passings were the result of heart disease in non-smokers who lived with smokers.  Although human beings should always be our first priority, today we are going to discuss the affects second-hand smoking can have on our canine friends.

Lung Cancer in Dogs

What we know

Few studies have been completed on the effects ETS may have on our pets.  Of course, it stands to reason that if cigarette smoke is harmful to human beings all mammals with lungs that breathe in oxygen would be similarly affected.  One of the reasons second-hand smoke may not be as noticeable in dogs is that they don’t live nearly as long as their owners.

In most cases where ETS is named as the cause of death of a human non-smoker, he/she breathed in second-hand smoke for decades before they developed medical problems.  But the average canine has a lifespan of just thirteen years. With that said, there is a growing body of evidence that cigarette smoke does cause a specific type of cancer in dogs that live with smokers.

Nasal cancer

Although precious few large-scale studies have been completed, several scientific papers have reported that ETS poses a serious, potentially-fatal health threat to our pets. In particular, it has been linked with lymphoma and oral cancer in cats and nasal and lung cancer in dogs. There are no numbers or estimates regarding the total number of fatalities our furry friends suffer because their owners smoke around them.  However, we do know from verifiable research that the problem is real.

Conducted at Colorado State University, a recent study found that dogs that live with smokers have a significantly higher incidence of nasal tumors than dogs that live in smoke-free homes.  Because they have larger and more developed noses than their human owners, this type of cancer is one of the most deadly ones for dogs.  They seldom survive for more than one year after the initial diagnosis.

Which breeds are at greatest risk?

According to the very same study, longer nose breeds like as the Doberman Pincher and Greyhound are more likely to get nasal cancer because they have more surface area in their noses where carcinogens can accumulate and tumors can form. Once again, we do not know how much more sensitive they are than other dogs, but only that they are more likely to be diagnosed with the disease.

Lung cancer

Perhaps because they breathe more rapidly and more noxious air gets into their lungs, the study also found that dogs with short or medium-size noses have slightly higher rates of lung cancer.  The risk obviously increases the more the pet owner or master smokes.  Suffice it to say, a chain smoker is putting his/her canine friend in harm’s way.

How big of a problem is it?

Fortunately, it is a much smaller problem than it was in the past. As smoking rates continue to fall, fewer dogs are being exposed to ETS. Unfortunately, millions of dogs still live with smokers. How do we know? Because twenty percent of American adults smoke and there are seventy-seven million owned dogs in the United States, according to The Humane Society of The United States.  This means that roughly 15 million dogs are exposed to secondhand-hand smoke at home.

In conclusion

Even though we don’t know nearly enough about the affects ETS has on our pet, we know enough to state with certainty that it probably isn’t good for them.  Furthermore, they are innocent animals that are completely unaware that the air they are breathing may be harming them. The decision to smoke in your own home is a personal one. But for the sake of your furry friend, if you must smoke, step outside before you light up.

Author Bio:

Martha Buckly is a blogger and freelance writer.  She started her writing career a long time ago. She is currently collaborating with You can also follow her posts on Google+ .

Filed under: Dog Care

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