Most people are well-educated about the dangers of smoking. We also know that second and third-hand smoke can affect those around us, which is one of the reasons that Ontario banned smoking in cars with children.

Our furry family members, however, do not understand the risks. Most pets aren’t bothered by smelly things, so when their parents enjoy a cigarette on a walk or during a car ride, they don’t know they’re in danger, they’re just happy to be enjoying some quality time with their favourite person.

As pet parents, we have our companions’ best interests at heart, so we attempt to minimize their exposure to cigarette smoke by going outside, blowing out windows, or vaping. However, nicotine is sticky, which causes harmful compounds adhere to skin and clothes. That means that when our pets nuzzle and kiss us, they directly ingest those compounds, despite our best efforts to keep them from harm.

Fortunately, when owners quit smoking, our pets are quick to benefit! The first thing that many former smokers notice is an improvement in their pets’ skin and coats. That means less dandruff and better snuggles for everyone, but most importantly, cats can once again groom themselves without ingesting harmful particles.

Smoking cessation also helps our furry friends feel better. The anatomy of many brachycephalic breeds (ie. those with “smooshed-in” faces such as pugs, bulldogs, or Persian cats) generally causes breathing difficulties, so clean air is especially important for them. Pets with pre-existing heart or respiratory disease often see a huge improvement as well, but a smoke-free lifestyle greatly increases every pet’s quality of life, no matter their breed or condition.

Quitting smoking is rarely easy, but it can be the greatest gift you give to yourself and your pet. Not only does it lower their chances of developing cancers and many associated diseases, but it can also increase their lifespan! We wish that every pet could grow old with us, but since that’s not possible, having a few extra years would be a dream come true.

If you’re trying to quit and need a sign of encouragement, just look into the big, beautiful eyes of the pet who would do anything to enjoy more time with you. After all, we know they would do it for us.

Dr. I. Wonder is here to answer your questions regarding your furry family members. If you have a question, email it to us at  Our team at Neighbourhood Pet Clinic will tap into their collective experience to answer your various questions.