Could pets help owners quit smoking?

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Feb 12, 2009
By dvm360.com staff

There are a lot of reasons to give up smoking—thousands according to humorist, author, and ex-smoker Bill Dodds who penned, 1,440 Reasons to Quit Smoking (Meadowbrook Press). The two most common motives: personal health and cost. But what about quitting for family, including your furry little friends? Just like with people, research shows that secondhand smoke affects pets negatively. The Henry Ford Health System in Detroit conducted an online survey to find out if pet owners given this information would snuff their cigarettes.

The survey discovered that while pet owners may be unwilling to quit for their own health, they'd attempt to kick the habit for their pets' well being. Of the 3,293 U.S. pet owners surveyed, 28 percent said they'd try to stop smoking based on the knowledge that secondhand smoke could harm their dog, cats, and other pets. Another 11 percent said they'd consider quitting if they knew secondhand smoke harmed a pet. Of the nonsmoking pet owners who lived with a smoker, 16 percent said they'd ask that person to quit and 24 percent said they'd tell him or her to smoke outside.

Sharon Milberger, who led the study, says this research shows promise for pet owners. It's an appealing new way to help owners stop smoking, she says. In the United States, there are an estimated 71 million pet owners. About one-fifth of those owners are also smokers. It also shows promise for veterinary professionals. Team members who educate owners on the dangers of secondhand smoke to pets can help reduce animals' risk of developing lung and other forms of cancer, eye and skin diseases, and respiratory problems.

Want to know more about secondhand smoke on pets? Click here.

Are you comfortable asking clients about their smoking behaviors? Click here to answer the "Survey Says" question. ("Survey Says" is toward the top right side of the page.)