May 13, 2010

Secondhand Smoke Can Cause Cancer, Lymphoma in Pet Dogs and Cats

Secondhand smoke does not only affect the people around those who smoke, it affects pets, too. Secondhand smoke is dangerous because it contains more than 250 toxins, at least 50 of which cause cancer, according to the Connecticut Surgeon General's Office. In humans, secondhand smoke can lead to heart disease and lung cancer. In pets, secondhand smoke can cause cancer and respiratory problems, as well.

Types of Cancer Secondhand Smoke Causes in Pets

The type of cancer which is likely to affect an animal varies based on the type of pet that lives in the smokers' home. For example, long-nosed dogs are more likely to be diagnosed with nasal cancer, while short-nosed dogs are more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer, according to a study conducted by epidemiologists at Colorado State University. Cats who live in smoking households are more likely to contract malignant lymphoma than those who live in non-smoking households.

Although the cancers manifest in different ways based upon the type of animal, the fact remains that dogs who are exposed to secondhand smoke have a 60 percent greater risk of being diagnosed with cancer, according to the American Journal of Epidemiology. According to a Tufts University study, cats who inhale secondhand smoke are three times as likely to develop lymphoma.

Inhalation is not the only way the animals ingest secondhand smoke, according to Julia Szabo, a New York Post writer and author of The Smoker's Pet. Often, smoke particles are trapped in the fur of the hairy animals. As a result, many animals ingest the smoke particles when they groom themselves.

Symptoms of Cancer in Pets Caused by Secondhand Smoke

Warning signs of lung cancer in dogs include weight loss, chronic coughing and fatigue, according to epidemiologist John Reif, who was the lead researcher in the Colorado State University study. Dogs with nasal cancer will exhibit different symptoms, including chronic sneezing, a bloody discharge from the nasal cavity and swelling in the nasal area, Reif said.


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