Most people are aware of the dangers of smoking and likely realize that their smoking affects the people around them, inhaling their second-hand smoke. However, what smokers probably don’t know is that second-hand smoke also affects pets.

What is second-hand smoke? Merriam Webster defines it as tobacco smoke that is exhaled by smokers or is given off by burning tobacco and is inhaled by persons nearby.

Second-hand smoke can be inhaled just as easily as humans and can cause many of the same smoke-related illnesses in pets, too. According to a recent study by Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, secondhand smoke can cause lung and nasal cancer in dogs, malignant lymphoma in cats, and allergy and respiratory problems in both animals. Not to mention that nicotine is extremely toxic to animals. The study also found that repeated exposure to secondhand smoke doubled a cat’s chances of getting cancer, and living with a smoker for more than five years increased the risk fourfold. Lymphoma, a cancer of a part of the immune system, is one of the leading causes of feline death.

The Virginia Department of Health offers a solution with the Tobacco Control Program, which offers pet parents free support to quit using tobacco. Get help by contacting Quit Now Virginia at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or by visiting This free confidential service provides support and advice from experienced counselors, a personalized quit plan, self-help materials, the latest information about cessation medications, and more. Quit smoking for good and protect the health of your beloved pet!