Does Passive Smoking affect Pets’ Health?

In a study in the Journal of Small Animal Practice, our Official Scientific Journal, Victoria Smith and colleagues from the University of Glasgow demonstrate that hair nicotine concentrations can be measured in cats.

This study, which was supported by a grant from BSAVA’s charitable division PetSavers, follows up a paper published in JSAP in October 2012, which showed that hair nicotine concentration (HNC) was strongly associated with owner-reported exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in a study population of 38 dogs. The study investigates whether HNC can be measured in cats and what associations there may be with owner-reported ETS.

Exposure to nicotine was documented via owner questionnaires. Nicotine was extracted from cat hair by sonification in methanol followed by hydrophilic interaction chromatography with mass spectrometry.

The authors found that, as with dogs, HNC can be measured in cats and is strongly associated with owner-reported exposure, in addition to the number of products smoked per day. Smoking away from the cat and minimizing the number of cigarettes smoked per day may significantly reduce HNC. Feline HNC could be used as a biomarker for ETS exposure, allowing future studies to assess whether exposed cats have an increased risk of smoking related disease.

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