Vaping and Dogs: Is It a Safe Alternative Around Your Pets?

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson
fast facts

Vaping, or e-cigarettes, are often touted as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. But when it comes to vaping around your pets, are they at any risk for smoking-related illnesses?

For many of us, getting healthier means frequent visits to the gym and better eating habits. For some, it means another go round at trying to stop smoking. While nicotine patches, gum and even acupuncture have traditionally been the weapon of choice for many long-time smokers, e-cigarettes have now become all the rage. They can be found in many corner shops and dedicated vape stores in every flavor under the sun including banana pie, pineapple and cantaloupe.

For those not in the know, an e-cigarette is simply another means of delivering nicotine to your body. Also known as vape-cigarettes, they’re fashioned to look like your regular ciggie, but are battery operated and atomize a nicotine-laden liquid into a vapor that is then inhaled by the user.

Related: How Second-Hand Smoke Affects Your Dog

Here’s the problem. Nicotine is toxic to pets – whether consumed through a butt discarded on the street or by getting hold of a tasty smelling mock-cigarette. The vape versions contain the equivalent of one to two cigarettes per and when purchased in packs of five to 100 cartridges and placed within reach of your pooch it can quick spell tragedy for all involved. If just a single cartridge is eaten by a medium-sized dog of 50 pounds or so, signs of poisoning can occur within 15 to 60 minutes. These will include vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, elevated heart rates, rapid respiration, tremors, seizures and possibly coma and cardiac arrest. Now imagine if a smaller pooch or cat got hold of one of these fruity smelling treats – we’d most certainly be looking at the more serious range of symptoms, including death.

Related: How To Make A Dog Throw Up

Sadly, this was the experience of one pet parent who had a single cartridge fall from his pocket. It was quickly snatched up by his 14-week old Staffordshire Bull Terrier who instinctively chomped down on the plastic. The tiny amount ingested was sufficient to have her frothing at the mouth and in spite of emergency help being just 10 minutes away, the pup could not be saved.

The Pet Poison Helpline confirms calls related to nicotine poisoning in pets that have ingested either the e-cigarette, the plastic cartridge or the cartridge refills filled with e-liquid, has doubled over the past six months. Ahna Brutlag, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Associate Director of Veterinary Services at the organization says: “We’ve handled cases for pets poisoned by eating traditional cigarettes or tobacco products containing nicotine for many years, but, as the use of e-cigarettes has become more widespread, our call volume for cases involving them has increased considerably.”

For pet parents who are trying to quit smoking, be extra diligent with all products that contain nicotine including not only vape-cigarettes but the empty cartridges, gum and lozenges. Store them safely out of reach of all pets (including cats), ensure that you are exhaling in a well-ventilated outdoor area away from kids and pets and always change the cartridge in an area where Rover won’t be able to snatch it up should it accidentally fall to the ground.

Folks, this is a fast acting toxin and if you have any doubt as to whether your little guy has consumed even a small amount, call your vet immediately or contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680 (free of charge). Losing a beloved pet is no way to start your commitment to leading a healthier life.

Mary Simpson is an animal-loving writer and communications professional. A soft touch for anything stray, she shares her century home with an eclectic collection of rescues that include orange tabby Chico, tuxedo Simon, and jet black Owen. She enjoys running, politics, exploring local wine regions and is an avid supporter of the “shop local” movement.

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

More by Mary Simpson