Just as human beings can be impacted negatively by breathing in secondhand smoke, dogs can suffer the ill effects of smoking. This is especially prevalent if a dog is exposed to secondhand smoke for a prolonged period of time, or is exposed in an area without adequate ventilation. Dogs with compromised immune systems also are more likely to experience health complications, particularly if they are elderly or have existing heart or respiratory problems.
Nasal and Lung Cancers
Secondhand smoke can lead to deadly cancers in the nasal and sinus cavities of dogs. Dogs with long snouts are typically more susceptible to this type of condition because they have a larger tissue area in which carcinogens collect. Dogs with short snouts are more likely to contract lung cancer because carcinogens from secondhand smoke pass quickly through the nose and into the lungs.
Respiratory and Eye Problems
Dogs who breathe in secondhand smoke can develop respiratory problems associated with lung irritation. This can present itself in the form of labored breathing or asthma-like conditions. Because dogs frequently lick themselves, this can be further complicated by smoke that infiltrates the fur, as dogs will ingest the harmful chemical buildup when they self-groom. Smoking also can be an eye irritant, resulting in watering, redness and general discomfort.
Don't allow your dog to be exposed to smoke. If you smoke, it’s preferable to do it outside your home and away from your dog. Even if you put your dog outside or in a different location when you smoke indoors, lingering smoke still has the potential to negatively affect your dog, as smoke can remain in the atmosphere for some time. Regular brushing and grooming can help remove some of the carcinogens from your dog’s fur and potentially reduce smoke’s harmful impact.
Identifying Smoke-Related Issues
If you are a smoker or your dog is regularly exposed to the smoke of others, let your vet know. When he performs his regular physical exams, he can look for potential signs of smoke-related damage or illness and offer advice on how best to protect the pup’s health, or to manage damage that's already occurred. Some vets recommend adding vitamin C to a dog’s diet to help improve the immune system and guard against the risks of cancer.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.