NHS Fife joins local vets to highlight danger of passive smoking on animals

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NHS Fife has teamed up with local veterinary surgeons, Albavet, to raise awareness of the negative impact that second-hand smoke can have on animals.

Albavet, which has surgeries in Kirkcaldy, Burntisland, Dalgety Bay and Dunfermline, is encouraging customers and visitors to sign up to the smoke-free homes pledge. By signing the pledge, participants commit themselves to keeping their homes completely smoke-free, helping to promote their own good health and the good health of others in the property.

Smoker’s pets are more likely to be affected by respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, lung, oral and nasal cancers, and skin irritation. Furthermore, in households with birds, second-hand smoke can also contribute to eye problems, pneumonia and contact dermatitis, which can lead to some birds pulling out their own feathers.

Those who sign the smoke-free pledge are being offered a complimentary pet health-check at Albavet, a free fire safety check, as part of a partnership with the Fire Service and NHS Fife, a smoke-free NHS Fife goodie bag, and they will also be issued with a pledge certificate, which lets visitors to their home know it is a smoke-free zone.

The initiative is part of a wider national campaign to promote wellbeing by making homes and cars smoke-free environments.

Dr David McKenzie, veterinary cardiologist at Albavet Scotland, said: “The dangers of passive smoking are well known in people, especially children, but how many pet owners have stopped to think that it might be harmful to their pets too?

“A number of recent studies have shown that not only do pets suffer harm from passive smoking, but they may actually be exposed to higher levels of harmful chemicals from cigarette smoke than people. This is because pets in smoking households trap cigarette smoke in their fur. When they lick themselves, they are basically taking in a huge dose of toxic substances, and this is especially the case for cats that groom themselves a lot. They also pass nicotine in their urine, showing that cigarette chemicals are getting into their bodies and then passing all round their body in the bloodstream.

“Dogs and cats that live in homes where there is a smoker have a higher risk of cancer, especially of the nose and mouth, but also lung cancer and cancer of the body’s defence system. Worse still, pets develop these cancers earlier in their lives – often as young as eight, which for many cats is only halfway through a normal lifespan. Pets from smoking households are also more prone to airway diseases such as asthma and bronchitis, which can be suddenly life-threatening, throat diseases, coughing, and skin disease.

“The good news is that stopping smoking, or going outside the house to smoke, greatly reduces your dog or cat’s exposure to harmful cigarette smoke. So, for your pet’s sake, make your house ‘smoke-free’.”

For more information, drop in at one of the Albavet surgeries across Fife, or contact the Stop Smoking Services on 0800 389 1603.