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Why Smoking Is Bad And Dangerous For Dogs

Updated on July 13, 2011


As cute as the image is of the dog with the cigarette in its paw, nicotine and dogs adds up to poison with a capital "P". Just as hundreds, if not thousands, of children are seen in the emergency room each year for ingesting nicotine, thousands of dogs are poisoned each year by nicotine. Ingested in sufficient amounts, it is fatal.

It might surprise you to know how little your dog would have to ingest to cause a severe reaction.

Even if you're not a smoker, you should know the warning signs of nicotine ingestion and what to do if you suspect your dog has ingested so much as 1 cigarette butt.

Most importantly, be aware that nicotine can be toxic in dogs in any form and you should seek veterinary attention immediately if you suspect your dog has ingested any form of nicotine. The effects of tobacco smoking on even the healthy dog can result in a fatality.




Just like children, dogs are naturally curious. Dogs are famous for smelling things and putting things into their mouths, just like kids. Sometimes, this can be a deadly behavior. For instance, menthol cigarettes give off a minty smell that dogs are drawn to. Chewing tobacco can be flavored with fruit flavoring or minty flavoring. Dogs are drawn to the sweet smell and may ingest these items without giving it a thought.

You might also think at first glance you only need to worry about cigarettes and chewing tobacco. Unfortunately, this isn't the case. Here are some other tobacco products that can kill your dog.

  • Cigarettes of varying strengths and lengths
  • Cigarette butts (see below for more on their nicotine content)
  • Nicotine gum
  • Nicotine patches
  • Nicotine inhalers
  • Cigars
  • Snuff
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Nicotine nasal spray
  • Nicotine insecticides



  • Drooling
  • Hyperactivity
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Inability to breathe
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Lethargy
  • Stumbling/inability to get up or walk
  • Depression
  • Dilated pupils
  • Collapse
  • Heartbeats that are too slow, too fast or irregular


The toxic amount of nicotine in a dog is 5 mg of nicotine per pound.

An ingestion of 10 mg/kg of weight can be deadly.

  • Cigarette butts can hold between 4-8 mg of nicotine dependent upon the length of the cigarette butt and the amount of nicotine in the original cigarette.
  • The butt of the cigarette contains an extremely high concentration of nicotine because the nicotine from the entire cigarette has been drawn through the butt.
  • One cigarette contains between 15-25 mg of nicotine dependent upon the brand.
  • Nicotine gum has 2-4 mg of nicotine per piece.
  • Nicotine inhalers have about 4 mg per puff or 10 mg in a cartridge.
  • Cigars have 15-40 mg of nicotine per cigar.
  • Nicotine patches have anywhere from 8-114 mg of nicotine dependent upon the strength.
  • Nasal sprays have 80-100 mg per bottle or about 0.5 mg per spray.
  • Chewing tobacco contains 6-8 mg of nicotine per gram of tobacco.
  • Snuff has 12-17 mg of nicotine per gram.

Doing the math with the above figures, a 10 pound dog consuming 2-4 cigarettes could be in the danger zone and begin exhibiting nicotine toxicity.

Even if your dog just gets nicotine on his fur, on his skin or in his mouth, wash immediately as it can still be toxic.



If you suspect your dog has ingested tobacco products of any kind, call your veterinarian immediately and get advice.

Do not try to treat at home unless your vet instructs you to do so. The only treatment for a toxic exposure you can perform at home is to induce vomiting. That depends on your vet's advice and how far you are from medical help.

Don't administer antacids! The administration of antacids can encourage the toxins to stay in the dog's stomach, thus elevating the poison level.

Blood tests and urine tests can detect if nicotine is present. Of course if you know that the dog has ingested any amount of nicotine, testing is not necessary. Try to make an educated estimate as to how much nicotine was ingested by your dog and when.

If time has passed since the ingestion of nicotine, you may be instructed to bring the dog urgently to a veterinary emergency center.

Treatment for nicotine poisoning can include inducing vomiting, pumping the dog's stomach, intravenous fluid administration, administering activated charcoal to absorb the nicotine, oxygen, a ventilator or medications to control seizures.

With a toxic nicotine exposure, treatment is directed at keeping the dog alive long enough for the tobacco toxin to pass through his system.

It is said that if a dog survives the first 4-5 hours, the prognosis for recovery is good. It also is good when small amounts are ingested and if treatment is prompt and aggressive. However, keep in mind that nicotine will not be eliminated from the dog's body for at least 16-20 hours.



In short, the best way to prevent your dog from needing treatment for nicotine poisoning is to keep all products containing nicotine locked up and away from your dog! An ounce of prevention here is worth 20 pounds of cure.

Some people don't believe that cigarette butts are toxic to dogs. It could go a long way to lessening the effects of this deadly and man-made risk for dogs in educating people about throwing their cigarette butts on the ground.

How many of us have been out walking our dogs and had Fido pick up someone else's nicotine trash off the ground?

To find out more about signs and symptoms of nicotine poisoning, visit

If you smoke, make sure you have a care for your dog. Remember that awful feeling you got the very first time you lit up and took a drag off a cigarette? Those symptoms are actually the same as your dog experiences – it is called nicotine poisoning. However, for a dog, the effects are much more severe and can easily become toxic and even deadly.

Educate your friends and family as well about the dangers of even 1 or 2 cigarette butts being left where your dog can chow down on them. You may just save your dog's life or someone else's dog's life simply by sharing your knowledge. Think about the puppy who grabs a pack of cigarettes and chews them all up!

No butts about it - don't forget the ashtrays! Keep them emptied and out of reach of your dog.

Remember that your dog depends on you to keep him safe. Keep nicotine products out of your dog's reach and you won't have to worry about nicotine poisoning.



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