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Pets Should Not Have to be Passive Smokers

06 October 2015
TEXT HERE

UK - In light of a new legislation forbidding drivers to smoke with children in their vehicle, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) are encouraging pet owners to avoid smoking for their pets’ benefit as well.

The devastating effects of passive smoking on humans is well documented, but vets are concerned that many animal owners may be inadvertently harming their beloved pets by lighting up when they are together in an enclosed space.

The legislation banning smoking in cars coincides with Stoptober, the NHS campaign encouraging people to stop smoking throughout the month of October, and there is more support than ever to quit.

Sean Wensley, President of BVA and companion animal vet, said: “Most smokers understand that lighting up around children is harmful, but fewer people are aware of the impact passive smoking can have on their pets. Sadly this health impact, as in people, may be cancer and owners are often understandably distressed when they realise that their pet’s cancer may be the result of secondary tobacco smoking. This legislation doesn’t apply to animals but we hope owners will take this opportunity to protect their pet either by quitting or by keeping their car and home smoke-free.”

A study from leading oncologist Clare Knottenbelt of Glasgow University Veterinary School, clearly demonstrated a correlation between the levels of nicotine in a dog’s fur and its exposure to cigarette smoke in the home.

Ross Allan, of the British Small Animal Veterinary Association, said: “Many owners who smoke have never thought about the effects of their habit on their pets, but there is evidence that tobacco smoke increases the risks of lung and nasal cancers in dogs and of lymphoma in cats. As veterinary surgeons we champion the prevention of illness and disease, and many owners might be more likely to give up tobacco for the sake of their pet if they realised the consequence of their smoking.”

The study, funded by the BSAVA’s PetSavers charity, demonstrated that dogs are inhaling and probably ingesting cigarette smoke and that this is known to increase the incidence of cancer in your pet.

Professor Knottenbelt added: “While veterinary medicine is advancing all the time and we have the ability to treat some cancers in pets, it is expensive and provides no guarantees of long-term survival.

The best way of avoiding damage to your pet’s health is to not smoke around them – or better still give up. It would be good for your own health, too.”

Dogs in non-smoking households were shown to have very low levels of nicotine incorporated into their fur compared with animals owned by regular smokers. A third group of pets owned by smokers who only smoke outside the house had intermediate levels of nicotine in their coat.

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