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A&ELifeThe dangers of smoking around pets

darynasarhanFebruary 8, 20197 min
Pets can suffer respiratory problems if exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke. But pets can be stoic, their owners may not realize they are having problems until they develop a medical issue. (Daryna Sarhan)

Daryna Sarhan, Arts and Entertainment Reporter

Smoking cigarettes and marijuana around pets can cause irreversible damage to their health and even death in severe cases.

Christine Nawas, a veterinarian at the Heart Lake Veterinary Hospital in Brampton, advises smokers to stay away from their pets because smoke can contribute to diseases such as bronchitis, asthma and airway disease. 

“There are instances where animals can develop the same kinds of nasty diseases that people can, having so much trouble breathing where we had to put the animal down,” she said. 

Many aspects can contribute to a pet’s health but it’s important to know the damage that the smoke can cause, Nawas suggests.

Jasper Jacobs, a student in Network and Support Technician program at Humber College, said he doesn’t smoke around his three cats.

“I don’t smoke inside the house but my cats like to be around on the deck when I’m smoking,” he said.  

However, second-hand smoke is also a large factor that can severely influence the pet’s well-being. 

Smoking cannabis around pets could also cause respiratory problems for them. (Daryna Sarhan)

Lian Smith, who studies Early Childhood Education at Humber college, said she does not own any pets but suggests it’s very harmful to smoke around them. 

“Secondhand smoke is dangerous for anyone, you shouldn’t smoke around your child, you shouldn’t smoke around your pets either,” Smith said. 

Almost every animal that lives in a household where owners smoke has some type of respiratory issues, and the degree of irritation varies among individual pets, Nawas said.

“Some animals are exquisitely sensitive, they may have an underlying allergy, even people who are very diligent and don’t smoke inside the house can still be a trigger to those sensitive animals even if it’s just on clothing, it can cause long term respiratory issues and allergic reaction,” she said.

Cats and dogs especially are masters at hiding their discomfort, and often when seen coughing, sneezing or having irritation means the animal is already suffering, Nawas said.

“It’s fairly rare to see an animal that lives in a household with smokers not to have any respiratory disease,” she said.

“Usually there’s some degree of at least respiratory irritation, it can be acute if there’s an allergic reaction that goes with it or it can be a chronic process taking months to really develop into something clinical, it depends on the individual pet,” Nawas said.

Alexis Vasquez, a Health and Fitness Promotion program at Humber college, is against smoking around pets. 

“It’s definitely damaging to the lungs, so just smoke outside and away from your pets,” he said.

Daniel Zea, a student of the Graphic Design program at Humber College, is also uncomfortable smoking around his pet. 

“Your pet is like another human, they have lungs just like us, if they catch on the secondhand smoke it’s damaging to their lungs as well,” Zea said.