The FDA issues new warning about danger of second and thirdhand smoke to your pets

Posted at 4:27 PM, Jan 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-10 11:56:42-05

The FDA is issuing a new warning about secondhand and thirdhand smoke and your pets.

You probably know secondhand smoke can be harmful to everyone in your home, including your furry friends. But do you know about the dangers of thirdhand smoke?

“Second and thirdhand smoke can absolutely kill your pet,” warns Dr. Martine Hartogensis, a veterinarian with the FDA.

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

Dr. Hartogensis tells us, “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.”

Pets ingest that chemical residue 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. And 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,” says Dr. Hartogensis.

But it’s not only dogs and cats. Any animal exposed to smoke is at risk, from hamsters to birds…even fish!

Lisa Frank is a smoker who loves her dogs. She now smokes outside because she realized smoking in an enclosed area just couldn’t be good for her dogs.  

“I didn’t want them to breathe that,” Lisa says. She says the FDA warning is a wake-up call, “I think everyone should be concerned about your animals.”

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

For more information:

FDA Alert:


FDA Smoking and your Pet:


Second and thirdhand smoke and children: