Veterinarians warn of dangers to pets from 'thirdhand' smoke - FOX Carolina 21

Veterinarians warn of dangers to pets from 'thirdhand' smoke

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(file/FOX Carolina) (file/FOX Carolina)

We know the dangers of smoking and of secondhand smoke.  Now animal experts say thirdhand smoke is proving to be harmful as well, especially for our pets.

Veterinarians and the federal government are warning, in some cases, that cigarette smoke can turn into long-term health problems.  We spoke with Upstate veterinarian Dr. Tony Holtzclaw, who sees his share of sick pets in his Upstate office.  

"Unfortunately cancer is one of the biggest killers in practice," he said.

Some of those cancers are preventable, but still happening, according to Holtzclaw.

"A lot of dogs and cats that live in households that smoke will develop lung cancer and lymphoma," he said. "It's believed to be caused by a weakening of the immune system by the smoke itself and some of the other chemicals that are in it."

Now, there's a new warning from the Food and Drug Administration.  Second and third-hand smoke is harmful to your pets. And in some cases, it's deadly.

Dr. Martine Hartogensis is a veterinarian with the FDA and said, "Second and third-hand smoke can absolutely kill your pet."

Secondhand smoke can harm pets when they breathe in chemicals from a cigarette that's lit.  And thirdhand smoke happens when those chemicals build up over time in things like house dust, floors, rugs and furniture.

Hartogensis explained why animals seem to be feeling the impacts more: "It can affect particularly animals that spend most of their time on the low levels on the floor, in and around the carpets and their bedding."

Studies back up the danger, too.  According to research from the federal government, smoke has been linked to deadly cancers in pets.  Cats living in homes with smokers are two times more likely to develop oral tumors, and dogs with longer muzzles are more likely to develop nasal tumors.

According to Hartogensis, "Nasal tumors are more prominent in long nosed dogs such as Dobermans, Collies, German Shepherds because they have an increased surface area in their nose and more exposure." 

And the FDA wants to make it clear, any animal exposed to smoke is at risk, from hamsters to fish.

These animal experts hope that by knowing the pet dangers, more smokers will kick the habit.

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