With smoking becoming banned in most public places, smokers are turning to e-cigarettes to help them get their nicotine fix.
Nicotine is poisonous to dogs and so owners need to take special care when using e-cigarettes. There has been a reported worldwide increase in the cases of nicotine poisoning attributed to these devices.
For example, the Veterinary Poisons Information Service, which offers vets specialist advice about poisoned pets in the UK, and has seen a 300 per cent increase in dogs swallowing e-cigarettes this year.
Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated devices that deliver nicotine to the user through a vapour that looks like cigarette smoke. An atomiser in the device heats liquid containing nicotine to release the vapour, which is then inhaled.
Symptoms of nicotine poisoning may include heavy panting, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, agitation and nervousness often combined with an increase in heart and respiration rates. The symptoms can escalate to tremors, seizures, comas, cardiac arrest and even death.
In the UK this year, a dog died after eating the nicotine capsule from an e-cigarette when it was dropped on the floor.
The ASPCA (USA) has also published warnings about e-cigarettes and pets. They say:
These are factors that make e-cigs and the liquid nicotine within them different than that found in cigarettes, patches or chewing gum:
- Potentially a high nicotine concentration of 1 to 10 percent
- The product may often be poorly labeled
- Liquid formation that means absorption more quickly for faster onset of signs, leaving less time for decontamination efforts
- While carriers in the e-cig liquid may be propylene glycol and glycerin, there have been reports of them containing diethylene glycol, which can cause acidosis and kidney injury
- Products may be flavored, such as milkshake or chocolate, making them more attractive to pets
Hopefully, the above facts make you want to throw away any e-cigarettes you may have in your house. And today is a great day to start your stop smoking plan (since cigarette smoke, cigarettes, nicotine patches and gum all are hazards too).
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand