What Happens When a Dog Digests a Cigarette Butt?

by Victoria Lee Blackstone
    If your pup finds cigarette butts tasty snacks, nicotine toxicity is a risk.

    If your pup finds cigarette butts tasty snacks, nicotine toxicity is a risk.

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    You know that cigarettes pose a health threat for smokers, but you may not know discarded cigarette butts pose a hazard for your dog. While they may seem small, cigarette butts contain 25 percent of the nicotine found in a full cigarette, according to the Mar Vista Animal Medical Center website. Ingestion of one butt will not cause a toxic dose for most dogs, but the potential does exist in small dogs and puppies.

    Nicotine Toxicity

    The toxic dose of nicotine for a dog is 0.5 milligram to 1 mg per pound of body weight. Anything more than 4 mg per pound constitutes a lethal dose. With this in mind, the average cigarette contains between 9 mg and 30 mg of nicotine. The exact amount varies by cigarette brand and type. Considering a butt contains as much as 25 percent of the full nicotine amount in a cigarette, a butt could contain as much as 2.25 mg to 7.5 mg. While one butt may make a small dog sick, two butts could be a potentially toxic dose for a small-breed puppy.

    Symptoms of Nicotine Poisoning

    Symptoms of nicotine poisoning begin within an hour of ingestion and include tremors, drooling, hallucinations, constricted pupils, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, increased heart rate and high blood pressure.

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    About the Author

    Victoria Lee Blackstone is a horticulturist who propagates heirloom and native plants for her nursery. She has authored research-based scientific/technical papers, plant care sheets and magazine and newspaper articles. Blackstone studied botany and microbiology at Clemson University and is a former University of Georgia Extension Master Gardener Coordinator.

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