On the other hand, warned the veterinarians Marie-Odile Benoît-Biancamano and Louis-Philippe de Lorimier, the animals will also be exposed to the tertiary smoke, the residues of second-hand smoke which are deposited on the surfaces, in a manner at the very least improbable in humans.
Keep in mind that pets live a little shorter than humans, so there will be no exposure for 40 years to products of this type. It would be closer to what we can see in children.
The US Food and Drug Administration warns on its website that second-hand smoke can worsen the symptoms of dogs that already have breathing problems. In the respiratory tract and lungs of dogs, changes similar to those observed in humans could be noted.
Studies show, according to the FDA, that cats living with a smoker are two to four times more likely to suffer from feline oral squamous cell carcinoma, an aggressive form of oral cancer that often appears under the tongue. where second-hand smoke particles tend to clump after washing.
These cats would also triple their risk of developing lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system that resembles non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in humans. A cat with lymphoma will usually not survive for more than six months.
"We know that there are increased risks," said Dr. de Lorimier, a veterinary oncologist. If we do more studies, maybe we will find meaningful links. It is known that the amount of nicotine found in the urine of dogs and cats exposed to second-hand smoke is high enough to suggest that there is potential for risk and possibly increased risk. And at the end of the day, even though the studies have not shown a strong link other than the cat for lymphoma and oral cancer, there may be links that have not yet been identified. "
Dr. Benoît-Biancamano claims to be able sometimes to observe under the microscope black particles accumulated in the lungs of pets. These particles are usually associated with air pollution, such as second-hand smoke, smog, and others.
In short, these particles can accumulate enough so that we can observe them visually, she said in an email.
The breed in question
The dog breed, and thus the length of its muzzle, will have a great influence on the impact of second-hand smoke.
In some breeds of longer snouted dogs, there may have been a slightly increased risk of nasal cancer. We know that dogs have nasal passages much more developed than ours, with very complex nasal turbinates.
The FDA explains that breeds with long snouts, such as German shepherds and Dobermans, will develop more cancers of the nasal cavity, as their snouts catch more toxic particles. In dogs with a short or medium muzzle, such as bulldogs and pugs, more ultrafine particles enter the lungs, causing cancer.
Dr. De Lorimier, however, evokes
a very recent study (who) tried to see if there was an increased risk of lung cancer in dogs exposed to second-hand smoke, and it came out that there was no increased risk of cancer lung.
Studies in dogs also show an association between second-hand smoke, atopic dermatitis and DNA damage in oropharyngeal tissues.
The exposure of pets to tertiary smoke is also radically different from that of humans.
Since the animals are very close to the ground, they will inhale tertiary particles that are found in the carpets, and obviously humans do not walk on all fours to breathe the carpet, so they will not be exposed to that.
"The other difference in animals, says the doctor, especially in cats, is that they will lick, so in addition they will absorb through the mouth particles that will settle on the hair. They will also breathe on their hair, in addition to absorbing them by licking themselves. Especially cats, who are very diligent in their grooming. "
The FDA states that animals can ingest these residues by licking their owner, which becomes another
area on which they are deposited.
The role of the owners
In the absence of scientific evidence as strong as in humans, Dr. De Lorimier offers the story of a boxer who suffered from a
fulgurant pulmonary cancer, very advanced and with metastases.
Honestly, it looked more like what we see in humans who are chronic smokers, he said.
Both owners of the beast were clearly chronic smokers, elderly people with yellowed fingers. The man then tells the veterinarian that the dog insists that the cigarette be in front of his muzzle when it is not in his mouth, otherwise it becomes
According to me, this dog was dependentsaid Dr. De Lorimier.
That being said, the majority of pet owners are concerned about their health and many are ready to crush if their welfare is at stake.
The owners are not really aware of the dangers. A study in the United States showed that when homeowners were made aware of the impact this could have on their pet, many were more motivated to quit smoking.
For some people, she adds, and often long-time smokers, their pet is their main companion everyday. When they realize that their smoking could cost them this companion, they will think twice about it.
Dr. De Lorimier agrees in the same direction.
"I often saw animals that had problems that were potentially caused by chronic smoke, and I think mostly about asthma cats," he says.
"And when I told the landlord that one of the potential risk factors that make it worse is the fact that you're a smoker and you smoke in the house, the owner said to me," I'm going to stop smoking. know that I should stop for a long time, but if you tell me that I harm my pet, I will stop smoking. " We could see that he felt guilty, "he continued.
Other animals at risk
Second-hand smoke does not only threaten dogs and cats, the FDA also says.
Birds can ingest tertiary smoke particles by cleaning their feathers. They are at risk for, among other things, pneumonia, lung cancer, eye problems, skin problems and heart problems.
Guinea pigs exposed to second-hand smoke for more than six months developed microscopic lung changes similar to those seen in smokers. They also suffered from emphysema. Others lost weight because of the impact of second-hand smoke on their metabolism.
Fish are also vulnerable, since nicotine dissolves easily in water. In one experiment, a butt was thrown into an aquarium. Four days later, half of the two week old minnows that were in it were dead.
To reduce the exposure of pets to second-hand smoke, the FDA recommends smoking outdoors, washing the pet regularly to remove residues, and cleaning carpets, furniture and steam curtains.