GLASGOW, Scotland — Smokers are being urged to quit as new research shows that the health of dogs and cats is in danger if they live in a smoking environment.
The ongoing study, lead by Clare Knottenbelt, professor of small animal medicine and oncology at the University of Glasgow, finds that pets living in a smoking household have a higher risk of health problems including cancer, cell damage and weight gain.
Researchers also found that even if a smoker limits their smoking to 10 cigarettes a day, the nicotine levels in the fur of a cat drops but still remains much higher than the fur from a cat in a non-smoking household.
“Our findings show that exposure to smoke in the home is having a direct impact on pets. It risks ongoing cell damage, increasing weight gain after castration and has previously been shown to increase the risk of certain cancers,” says Knottenbelt. “Our current study in cats shows that cats are even more affected. This may be due to the extensive self-grooming that cats do, as this would increase the amount of smoke taken in to the body.”
In addition, the study shows that the levels a gene which acts as a marker of cell damage was much higher in dogs that lived with secondhand smoke.
“We are all aware of the risks to our health of smoking and it is important we do everything we can to encourage people to stop smoking. As well as the risk to the smoker, there is the danger of second-hand smoke to others. Pet owners often do not think about the impact that smoking could have on their pets,” added Knottlebelt.
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“Whilst you can reduce the amount of smoke your pet is exposed to by smoking outdoors and by reducing the number of tobacco products smoked by the members of the household, stopping smoking completely is the best option for your pet’s future health and wellbeing.”
The full study is expected to be published in 2016.