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Thirdhand smoke: Protecting your pets

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Thirdhand smoke can be dangerous for pets, the FDA said. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Thirdhand smoke can be dangerous for pets, the FDA said. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
And thirdhand smoke happens when those chemicals accumulate over time in things like house dust, floors, rugs and furniture. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) And thirdhand smoke happens when those chemicals accumulate over time in things like house dust, floors, rugs and furniture. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The FDA is issuing a new warning about secondhand and thirdhand smoke and your pets. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The FDA is issuing a new warning about secondhand and thirdhand smoke and your pets. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

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.

“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,” Dr. Hartogensis told us. 

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 bulldogs 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 to 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,” Frank says. 

She says the FDA warning is a wake-up call. 

“I think everyone should be concerned about your animals,” Frank said.

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.

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Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

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Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

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Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

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