A growing body of research shows there are no safe levels of exposure to secondhand smoke -- for humans or for animals. And one new study shows that nearly 30 percent of pet owners live with at least one smoker -- a number far too high given the consequences of exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS).
An estimated 50,000 Americans lose their lives to secondhand smoke annually and 4 million youth (16 percent) are exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes. A number of studies have indicated that animals, too, face health risks when exposed to the toxins in secondhand smoke, from respiratory problems, allergies and even nasal and lung cancer in dogs and lymphoma in cats.
In addition, the ASPCA, one of the largest animal rights groups in the U.S., lists tobacco smoke as a toxin that is dangerous to pets. Said Dr. Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, medical director of the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center:
"Nicotine from secondhand smoke can have effects to the nervous systems of cats and dogs. Environmental tobacco smoke has been shown to contain numerous cancer-causing compounds, making it hazardous for animals as well as humans.”
In order to better protect dogs, cats or other pets, the foundation and ASPCA recommend that smokers -- who often consider their domestic pets a part of the family -- "take it outside" when they are smoking.