Vet partnership aims to protect pets from second-hand smoke

While the effects of second-hand smoke on people is widely known, family pets may often be forgotten.

NHS Lanarkshire partner with local vet surgeries to highlight second-hand smoke effects on family pets NHS Lanarkshire
David Gardner-Roberts MRCVS, veterinary surgeon - ARMAC Vets and his dog, Digger.

A health board is partnering with vets in the community to raise awareness of the harm of second-hand smoke to all family members – including dogs, cats, birds and even fish.

The new partnership between NHS Lanarkshire’s Quit Your Way team and vet surgeries in the area highlights that while residents may be aware of the risks of exposure to second-hand smoke for other people – especially children – they may not be aware that the health of all kinds of pets can also be damaged in the same way that humans are.

The team has distributed information and leaflets to vet surgeries about the health risks of second-hand smoke and advice to minimise exposure with information about the support available should their clients wish to quit smoking altogether.

Veterinary surgeon David Gardner-Roberts MRCVS, from ARMAC Vets in Biggar, said: “Smoking tobacco is harmful to pets in the same way it’s harmful to other people in our home. Although the smoke we see disappears quickly, the particles are so small that 85% of them are invisible and odourless.

“The levels of invisible but harmful toxins in the air can linger for up to five hours afterwards and pose a threat to pets of all kinds.

“Encouraging a smoke-free environment for children, families and pets can help protect them from inhaling the same toxic chemicals found in tobacco smoke, as there is no safe level of second-hand smoke.”

Allan Ritchie, head trainer at Clan Dog, a local dog training organisation, added: “All dog lovers know the ‘power’ of a dog’s nose.

“A dog’s nose is their ‘go to’ asset, so it makes sense that scents and tobacco smoke that seem overwhelming to us are absolutely overpowering for dogs, causing their body to have a negative reaction.

“There is some evidence to suggest dogs exposed to second-hand smoke tend to suffer more eye infections, allergies, and respiratory issues, including lung cancer, so protecting our pets from it is vital for their wellbeing.”

The Quit Your Way team offers free support and advice on second-hand smoke and quitting smoking, as well as free nicotine replacement products. 

Queensley Ajuyakpe, health improvement senior at NHS Lanarkshire, said: “We want to give our family the best and healthiest lives we can, and this includes our pets.

“Many Lanarkshire residents love their pets like additional family members and may not be aware that their pets are at risk of health issues from exposure to second-hand smoke. 

“Sharing this important information with local vets will hopefully lead to more residents making their homes and cars smoke-free.”