Can Eating Cigarettes Harm Your Pet?

Pets & Cigarettes – Hidden Dangers on the Sidewalks

by Dr. Alex Miller, Des Moines Iowa

You and your pet are bound to be spending more time outside walking on the sidewalks of your community as the weather continues to improve. An unfortunate finding on many of these paths is trash, and much of this trash contains whole or parts of cigarettes. Therefore, it is a perfect time to talk about nicotine toxicity.

Nicotine is one of the major active ingredients in cigarettes, and it is one that can be very dangerous for your pet. The reason for this is that smoking a cigarette yields a relatively low amount of nicotine. However, nicotine is absorbed very well through the intestines, so eating the cigarette is much more dangerous. In fact, it only takes one cigarette to make a 40 lb. dog feel sick and throw up. Some clinical signs which may be seen if your pet eats a cigarette, cigar, or other source of nicotine include: vomiting, hallucinations, seizures, increased heart rate, and potentially death.

The treatment for nicotine ingestion is most effective if it is begun immediately. This is because nicotine is poorly absorbed from the stomach, but well absorbed from the intestines. Therefore if your veterinarian can induce vomiting and clear out the nicotine from the stomach, many of the severe clinical signs can be averted. So if you think your pet may have ingested any part of a cigarette, please phone your Des Moines area veterinarian immediately. Thank you for reading, and we hope that you and your pet enjoy the nice weather!