A SOLIHULL vet has spoken of the threat of passive smoking to household pets, ahead of national No Smoking Day tomorrow (March 11).
Dr Chiara Penzo, an oncology specialist, is urging smokers to consider the health impact of the habit on their pets, as well as on themselves and their family.
Chiara, who works at Willows Veterinary Centre in Solihull, said research shows passive smoking can be extremely harmful to animals, as well as humans.
She said: “National No Smoking Day is clearly a time for smokers to consider the risks to themselves and the people around them.
“It’s also important to be aware of how harmful smoking is to pets as it can cause serious conditions and increase the risk of cancer.”
Studies highlighted by the University of Glasgow and Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in London have revealed just how serious those risks can be.
Research has shown different pets are affected in different ways by the effects of passive smoking.
Cats exposed to cigarette smoke have more than double the risk of developing malignant lymphoma (a form of white blood cell cancer) and cats exposed for greater than five years are more than three times more likely to develop the disease.
Dogs are prone to smoking-related breathing problems and there are links between smoke and difficult-to-treat nasal and sinus cancers.
Animals’ grooming habits are also a concern as pets like cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs can lick tobacco toxins off their skin and fur. This can be a factor in the development of mouth, stomach and intestinal cancers.
Chiara said working on prevention was hugely important: “I hope raising awareness of the threat of passive smoking for pets will help people to change their habits – either stopping or cutting back on smoking or at least smoking away from animals.”
The encouraging news is treatment of cancer in animals has evolved dramatically in recent years, with Willows offering a cancer care team to give expert care for pets.
Chiara said: “Willows is the only centre in the UK to have recognised specialists in both medical and surgical veterinary oncology.
“This, combined with a multi-disciplinary team approach to the management of cats and dogs with cancer, enables us to provide the best possible levels of care for pets with this problem.
“We’re excited to be able to provide electro-chemotherapy treatment for management of many tumours, including feline oral squamous cell carcinoma, which is often a tumour that’s not amenable to surgery. We also have tailored cancer care protocols for treatment of lymphoma in cats and dogs.”