New federal warning about how smoking can harm your pets

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When Lisa Frank lights up she goes outside. She used to smoke inside, but figured smoking in an enclosed area just could not be good for her dogs. (KFSN)

When Lisa Frank lights up she goes outside. She used to smoke inside, but figured smoking in an enclosed area just could not be good for her dogs.

"I didn't want them to breathe that."

Now Uncle Sam wants to make sure your pet does not breathe cigarette smoke, either.

The Food and Drug Administration released a new warning about second and third-hand smoke.

"Second and third-hand smoke can absolutely kill your pet," said Dr. Martine Hartogensis, Veterinarian.

Secondhand smoke can harm pets when they breathe in chemicals from a lit cigarette. And third-hand smoke happens when those chemicals accumulate over time in things like house dust, floors, rugs, and furniture.

"It can affect particularly animals that spend most of their time on the low levels on the floor, in and around the carpets and their bedding," said Dr. Hartogensis.

That chemical residue rubs off on the pets' fur and they ingest it when they groom or lick their coats.

Studies show smoke has been linked to deadly cancers in pets. Cats living in homes with smokers are two times more likely to develop oral tumors. Dogs with longer muzzles are more likely to develop nasal tumors.

"Nasal tumors are more prominent in long nosed dogs such as Dobermans, Collies, German Shepherds because they have an increased surface area in their nose and more exposure. Conversely, shorter nosed dogs like pugs and bull dogs are more associated with lung cancer because they have less filtration," said Dr. Hartogensis.

But it's not only dogs and cats; any animal exposed to smoke is at risk, from hamsters to birds-- even fish.

The FDA hopes knowing the pet dangers will kick start more smokers into kicking the habit.

Frank thinks the warning is a wakeup call.

"I think everyone should be concerned about their animals."

The FDA warning is specifically about pets, but it's important to note the American Academy of Pediatrics has previously warned about the risk of third hand smoke for kids; especially babies and toddlers who crawl on rugs and have their faces near furniture.
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