Second-hand Vaping: Heinz Body Anemia

This is a short follow-up to my previous article about the possible effect on domestic cats of electronic cigarette smoking in their vicinity (passive smoking). The conclusion from that article was that the risk to health was much lower than with conventional cigarettes but since then I’ve noticed that the chemical in some electric cigarettes, propylene glycol, can, albeit extremely rarely, cause a condition called Heinz body anaemia.

VAPE smoke
VAPE smoke. Pic in public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

I don’t think cat owners should be worried about this but nonetheless it is worth mentioning. This is because, as I understand it, there is an alternative type of electronic cigarette which contains a different chemical called vegetable glycerin (VG), which may be safer. I’m simply flagging up possibilities so people can judge for themselves.

Passive smoking and its effects upon the domestic cat should be something that cat caretakers should, at least, be aware of and take some precautions against but as Marc correctly states there must be a balancing act between obtaining some pleasure from life and the downsides that those pleasures may bring to one’s health and (potentially) the health of others you are living with you.

Heinz body anaemia is anaemia due to red blood cell damage in cats. It seems that propping glycol can damage red blood cells. The website states that this is a condition where red blood cells can be destroyed and it is usually a reaction to certain medications and the result of eating onions! How many cats eat onions? Hyperthyroidism and lymphoma can also bring on this rare condition. Other toxins that can cause the condition are: wilted red maple leaves, kale, turnips, zinc and garlic.

Anaemia is not that infrequently encountered in cats and therefore your veterinarian will be able to readily diagnose it and with your input about the environment in which your cat lives should be able to diagnose the cause.

However, I must stress that the source of this information states quite clearly that there is an extremely small risk that passive smoking from electronic cigarettes that contain propylene glycol will cause this disease. So please don’t get too worried about it but simply be aware of it. Please judge for yourself having read relevant information.

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11 thoughts on “Second-hand Vaping: Heinz Body Anemia”

      • Michael it’s a very simple system. I was thinking about trying with something olive oil. I am sure iot would work but perhaps wouldn’t be very nice. It would also be extremely good system for inhaling THC without all the other fibres and stuff that come with the plant. You can just place a big bud in oil and the THC extracts itself into the oil.. Instead of making space cake one could smoke it in an ecig – perfect disuise for public places and 100% healthy pretty much.

        I think theres alot to be said for these ecigs. This is technology doing something good in my view.

  1. lols very true michael about marc. Im a non smoker but my sisters and ex all are. Dont really like the smell or taste.

      • Exactly i totally agree. I dont have probs with people smoking as have grown up with it alot as my 4 other sisters reguarly smoke so im not putting judgement out there. πŸ™‚

  2. and people smoke that stuff. propylene glycol vegetable glycerin (VG)thinking it’s healthier than ordinary cigarettes? For good measure they could add some insecticide and weed killer.


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