There is one word that strikes fear in the heart of every pet parent; cancer. Unfortunately, it is a diagnosis heard each day in veterinary offices around the world.
November is Pet Cancer Awareness month and the perfect opportunity to explore ways we can help protect our best friends.
Did you know that many of the cancers humans get can also affect pets?
It makes sense when you think about it. We share the same environments, are exposed to the same toxins, we share love and companionship as the human-animal bond, and our DNA or genomes are similar. The human genome and canine genome are 90% identical.
Cancer treatments vary depending on the form of cancer. Just like in humans, some dogs and cats can be treated with chemotherapy and others need to undergo amputations. The good news is that experts say 50% of pet cancers are curable if detected in the early stages.
How can we protect our pets?
There are many environmental elements that we cannot avoid. However, there is one that can and should be removed from your pet’s life. That is the toxins of second-hand smoke. It is estimated that 30% of pet owners live with a smoker. The fur of pets living in the homes of smokers contain the toxins of 14 – 15 cigarettes! Studies show that animals face health risks when exposed to cigarette smoke. These include respiratory problems, allergies, nasal, and lung cancer.
Those are all good reasons to quit smoking, but if you still aren’t convinced, consider dog nicotine poisoning. This can be the result of your dog eating cigarette or cigar butts, drinking water with cigarette butts in it, and munching on a nicotine replacement patch or nicotine gum. The toxic level 10 mg/kg of nicotine in dogs is potentially fatal. To put that in perspective, one cigarette contains 15–25 mg. of nicotine and the butt of one contains 4-8 mg. That is frightening when you think of all the discarded cigarettes you see on the ground.
Until You Kick the Habit
Even though you know the reasons to stop lighting up, it doesn’t make it any easier. I get that too because I smoked for over forty years. It has been over three years since quitting and I am so happy that I stopped. Not only do I feel better, but my dogs enjoy snuggling more. Even though I always smoked outdoors, a dog’s sense of smell is 1,000 to 10,000,000 times more sensitive than ours. I realize now that they didn’t like the smell of cigarette smoke on me.
Until you quit, here are a few ways to help protect your pets from the harmful effects of second or third-hand smoke.
- Smoke outdoors
- Use a high-quality air purifier
- Change your clothes after smoking or wear a cover shirt
- Wash your hands before touching your pet
- If you have long hair, tie it back when you smoke
- Dispose of all tobacco products away from pets
If you can’t quit for your own health, let’s think about your dogs and cats. Cigarettes are harming them too.
M. K. Clinton
M. K. Clinton is an award-winning author of The Returns book series and lifestyle dog blogger at Barking from the Bayou, LLC. She lives in Louisiana with her husband of thirty-five years and their two dogs, Bentley Basset Hound and Pierre Westie. A quote from her second book The Returns 2 ~ Showstoppers, “The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” has become a favorite with dog lovers around the world.