If you’re a pet owner and considering giving up smoking as a New Year’s resolution, a new study shows the decision may significantly improve the health of your furry family member, too.
The University of Glasgow in Scotland has released findings in an ongoing study that show pets living in a smoky environment have a higher risk of developing health problems, including some animal cancers, cell damage and weight gain.
“Our findings show that exposure to smoke in the home is having a direct impact on pets,” Clare Knottenbelt, professor of small animal medicine and oncology at the university’s small animal hospital, said in a press release. “It risks ongoing cell damage, increasing weight gain after castration and has previously been shown to increase the risk of certain cancers.”
Researchers already have found that dogs take in significant amounts of secondhand smoke inside the home in which they live, according to Kottenbelt. But the current study shows cats are even in more danger, possibly due to their extensive self-grooming that researchers say increases the amount of smoke taken in to their bodies.
“As an incidental finding, we also observed that dogs living with a smoker owner gained more weight after neutering than those in a non-smoking household,” Knottenbelt said.
The research team told The Telegraph that pets could even be at greater risk of health problems than humans who are around secondhand smoke.
“To some degree pets are at greater risk,” Knottenbelt told the Telegraph. “Pets are often in close proximity to their owners more so than many children who can be away at school all day and more so than other adults in the house.
“Furthermore, as pets self-groom they will ingest the smoke particles from their fur… These factors mean that pets are probably exposed to greater amounts of passive smoke.”
In the study, which is expected to be published in 2016, owners who reduced the total numbers of tobacco products smoked in the home, show the nicotine levels in the hair dropped significantly, but were still higher than those in cats from non-smoking homes.
Knottenbelt admitted in the release that although it is important to advocate no smoking for a person’s health, it is critical that pet owners understand the dangers to which they expose their pets.
“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,” Knottenbelt said.