Pets “at risk” from second-hand smoke

Professor Clare Knottenbelt said there was evidence that second hand smoke raised the risk of cancer in pets

A TOP scientist is warning pet owners of the dangers of smoking around their animals.

Professor Clare Knottenbelt, who specialises in animal medicine, said there was growing evidence which shows how damaging second-hand smoke is to the health of cats and dogs.

She will address a seminar on second-hand smoke being held by NHS Ayrshire & Arran on Wednesday 26 October.

Prof Knottenbelt said that studies have shown increased risk of lymphoma and oral cancer in cats, and an increased risk of lung, nasal and sinus cancer in dogs.

She said: “Currently I am writing a research paper looking at levels of nicotine in the fur of dogs which indicates they are as exposed to the same levels of nicotine as children in a household. This may be a useful way of indicating second-hand smoke exposure in a household in general.

Give up

“While veterinary medicine is advancing all the time and we have the ability to treat some cancers in pets, it is expensive and provides no guarantees of long-term survival.

“The best way of avoiding damage to your pet’s health is to not smoke around them – or better still, to give up.”

Susan Downie, Health Promotion Officer from NHS Ayrshire & Arran, said: “Many animal lovers who are also smokers may not realise that their second-hand smoke will also be having an effect on their pets. We want to encourage as many smokers as possible to consider either smoking outside or making one room in their house the designated smoking room.

“By doing this and keeping smoke away from other people and pets in the house or car, smokers can ensure that their loved ones – including their pets, will not suffer from second-hand smoking related illnesses.”