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Smoking: The Effects on Your Family Pet

I know what you’re going to say. “I’ve heard it all before.” Maybe you have, but now you’re going to hear it from me.

First hand smoke is smoke that is inhaled into the lungs, a well known killer of humans.

Second hand smoke comes from two sources: one is exhaled by a smoker, the other is the product released from the burning end of a cigarette, pipe, or cigar. Second hand smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, arsenic, nicotine and tars, all of which are deadly cancer causing agents. They will kill innocent victims, your family pets included.

In dogs and cats, second hand smoke also causes lung disease, eye irritation, wheezing, coughing, pneumonia, hyperventilation, depression and lethargy. Also, second hand smoke affects birds, rats and rabbits, They tend to have very sensitive respiratory systems. When exposed to second hand smoke, they can develop nasal cancer and pneumonia, along with all of the above mentioned symptoms.

Third hand smoke refers to the toxins from cigarette smoke that sticks to soft surfaces. Have you ever stood near someone who wasn’t smoking but smelled like tobacco? That smell is third hand smoke.

Third hand smoke leaves residue on clothes, hair, skin, carpet, blankets, floor, furniture, toys, pillows, and drapes. Third hand smoke saturates and penetrates into pets’ feathers, fur and lungs. Holding your pet close to you actually increases the risk of respiratory diseases.

Smokers and non-smokers alike have the luxury of showering, washing their hair and laundering their smoke saturated clothes after being near a smoker. Unfortunately, pets don’t share this luxury. These toxic chemicals cling to coats, fur, and feathers, to be cleaned off by self grooming. Ingestion of these highly toxic chemicals may cause many types of cancer, including mouth, tongue, throat and stomach. Usually, the pet of a smoker will die within one year of being diagnosed.

Birds, rats and rabbits have also been known to develop contact dermatitis from being continuously handled by owners that smoke.

Accidental poisoning in dogs by ingesting discarded cigarette butts, cigars, chewing tobacco, nicotine patches or nicotine gum, is more common than you may think. A very expensive emergency visit to your vet may follow.

Whether it be a dog, cat, bird, rabbit, or rat, second and third hand smoke is life threatening to your beloved family pet.

Bella Vista Farms has taken in many animals over several decades of rescuing. We have also seen many smoking related illnesses that were preventable. The aftermath of caring for innocent victims who have been forced to endure second and third hand smoke is horrific. Until you have seen a parrot struggle to breathe or watch a tiny Chihuahua gasping for air in an oxygen chamber, reality of the damage done by cigarette smoke probably has never occurred to you. The helplessness that I have felt for these animals has been heartbreaking. The decision to euthanize an animal due to no fault of its own is gut wrenching.

Anyone who is a smoker and a pet owner can do one very important thing to protect your pet’s life as well as your own. Quit smoking.

I hope I have encouraged you to quit this deadly and senseless habit. For the sake of your pets, quit today.


There are nearly 4000 chemicals in a cigarette. At least 43 of the ingredients are carcinogenic (cancer causing). Here is a sampling:

Acetic Acid (Corrosive to respiratory tract)

Acetone (Used in nail polish removers)

Ammonia (Used in floor and toilet cleaners)

Arsenic (Poison)

Cadmium (Car battery fluid)

Carbon Monoxide (Interferes with the supply of oxygen in the blood to the rest of the body)

DDT/Dielderon (Insecticides)

Ethanol (Alcohol)

Formalin (Used in preserving human tissue and fabric)

Hexamine (Used in explosive compounds)

Hydrogen Cyanide (Poison)

Methane (Petroleum gas)

Naphthalene (Used in moth balls)

Nicotine (Schedule 6 poison)

Nitrobenzene (A petroleum additive)

Phenols (Used in disinfectants)

Stearic Acid (Used in candle wax)

Toluene (Industrial solvent)

Vinyl Chloride (Used in PVC)

Chic Miller 530-347-0544

Bella Vista Farms Animal Sanctuary

4301 Lower Gas Point Road Cottonwood, CA 96022

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