Thanks to Chloe Bloom for contributing this guest blog about a very common and deadly hazard for today’s pets:
Electronic cigarettes are a fairly new but major danger for pets. Designed to mimic the feeling of smoking without burning tobacco, e-cigs health benefits vs. risks are debatable. The answer depends on which public health organization you ask. However something that is not being debated is the toxicity of nicotine. When ingested in high enough quantities it can have serious consequences.
None of the ingredients (apart from nicotine) in e liquid are toxic to ingest. They are food grade chemicals and flavorings that are used in things like toothpaste and candy making. This makes e liquid smell and taste very sweet. Because of this sweet taste the e liquid becomes very attractive to animals, who will relish the opportunity to eat such a sweet yet toxic liquid. They have no idea poisonous nicotine is also present. Ingesting even a small portion of a bottle of e liquid has a very high chance of killing an innocent animal.
A tragic recent news story emerged regarding a Staffordshire bull terrier named Ivy from the UK. Ivy managed to get hold of a bottle of e liquid that was left on a dining room table and she started chewing on it, only ingesting a tiny amount.
She then immediately started vomiting and foaming at the mouth. Ivys owner took her to the vets who gave her a large dose of steroids to try and save her. However Ivy unfortunately passed away from nicotine poisoning the next day.
With the amount of people quitting smoking using e-cigs rising every year, the tragic story of Ivy is unfortunately unlikely to be the last we hear of this issue. But there are simple actions any responsible e-cig using pet owner can take to ensure this tragedy does not happen to them and their animal.
Here is some further advice from the ASPCA which maintains an Animal Poison Control hotline:
It’s crucial that vapers keep their stash out of the reach of pets. That means you should throw away your old cartridges as soon as you’re finished with them. Even if you think they are empty, they could still contain trace amounts of nicotine that would be dangerous if your pet ingested it. … The liquid nicotine is deadly for animals.
The first signs of nicotine poisoning in a pet generally begin within 30 minutes to an hour. Usually, the first symptom is vomiting. Pets might also develop diarrhea, drool uncontrollably, act agitated or have a fast heart rate. If your pet consumes a higher dosage, you will see seizures or extreme lethargy. In some cases, the accident can turn fatal quickly.
Liquid nicotine poses a particular threat because it is quickly absorbed through mucous membranes in the pet’s mouth. If your dog eats a cigarette, the liver has a chance to absorb most of the toxicity. However, liquid nicotine gets absorbed before it ever reaches the stomach causing a more immediate risk and a real emergency.
If your pet accidentally ingests a cartridge or gets into your eliquid, call the vet right away or contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control hotline at 1-888-426-4435.