An example of how passive smoking can affect a pet

This is a real life story about a dog, which supports an argument that I put forward some years ago that cats and dogs are at risk of developing cancer through passive smoking if their owner is a heavy smoker.

Passive smoking pets can develop cancer

A couple’s 30-a-day cigarette habit resulted in their pet dog contracting terminal lung cancer from passive smoking. Mrs Heather Goddard, 61, had been smoking for 40 years. She suffers from asthma and has been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease last year. Mr Keith Goddard, 67, had smoked for 45 years. They live in Seaton Delaval in Northumberland (for visitors unfamiliar with British geography, this is in the Northeast of England).

They were both devastated when their 8-year-old crossbreed dog, named Clover, collapse during a walk. They had been Clover’s caretaker/guardian since she was a puppy. After she collapsed she had to be carried to their car and was put down by a veterinarian soon afterwards.

An x-ray showed that Clover had dark shadows on her lungs indicating that smoking had caused her death. Their vet warned them that their border collie, cat and a rabbit were also at risk. The shock of losing Clover compelled them to quit smoking which they managed to do using patches.

Mrs Gothard warned:

“if you can give up, great. If you can’t, then go outside (to smoke), or put your pet outside.”

Robin Hargreaves, of the British Veterinary Association, called on pet owners to smoke outside their homes to reduce the risk of pets developing “a painful and life-threatening cancer”.

Well, there it is; an interesting but sad story, which I would consider to be fairly solid, first-hand evidence of an incidence of a companion animal dying of cancer through passive smoking as a result of her owner being a long-term, heavy smoker inside the home.

I don’t know how many people are concerned about the effect passive smoking has on their companion animal. I feel fairly confident that a good percentage of cat or dog owners who smoke don’t give much thought to it. I also know that genuinely good cat guardians are very aware of the dangers of passive smoking affecting their cat and take precautionary measures but perhaps they just stop. However, I would doubt, in America that many of them put their cat outside while smoking inside because many cats are indoor cats.

Of the two choices, it obviously makes better sense for smokers to smoke outside because the alternative of putting your cat out and smoking inside results in the smoke lingering in the home for a long time afterwards. As I understand it the chemicals in cigarettes also become impregnated in furniture. This may remain a hazard to the health of an animal lying on furniture.

Dogs are more likely to develop nose and lung cancers via passive smoking. A study by Tufts University, near Boston, U.S found that cats are twice as likely to develop feline lymphoma if they live with a smoker. Cats ingest: ash, dust, soot and nicotine when grooming themselves.

Are electronic cigarettes safer? There appears to be a risk of a cat developing Heinz body anemia through passive smoking the vapour from e-cigarettes.

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An example of how passive smoking can affect a pet — 2 Comments

  1. This is a very thought provoking article indeed. Sadly though, I know many people who smoke inside with no regard for their children’s safety, much less their pet’s safety.

    Plus, smoking indoors while the pet is outdoors does not solve the problem. The smoke is still in the house and when the pet comes back inside, he is still in danger of second hand smoke.

    If you don’t believe me, then visit the home of someone who smokes. The house constantly smells like stale smoke, even if the people are not currently smoking. The smoke lingers in the air for quite some time before settling on the occupants of the home, be it animate or inanimate.

    I hope this article encourages smokers to be more aware of their surroundings and make them more responsible for the consequences of their actions. Am I condemning smoking? No, I believe that is a personal choice, but it isn’t for everyone. And, as a non-smoker, I prefer to be able to breath fresh air while inside and to be able to got out in public not smelling like stale smoke.

    • Sadly though, I know many people who smoke inside with no regard for their children’s safety

      An excellent point which I missed due to my obsession with cats and not having children!

      You are right about smoke and nicotine and the other chemicals in the air and also on furnishings in the home and remaining there for a long time.

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