Note: If your dog has eaten a cigarette, a cigarette butt or a cigar, then please call the vet right now. This could be a medical emergency.
We all know our dogs love to eat almost anything from long-dead roadkill to what’s in the kitchen wastebasket. They’re not discerning eaters by any stretch of the imagination! Dogs have even been known to eat cigarettes, cigarette butts and cigars!
While this may seem strange or funny, dogs who have eaten cigarettes and cigars can suffer life-threatening medical problems from the nicotine contained in these items.
Nicotine Poisoning in Dogs
This is a very serious health problem in dogs. In fact, the problem has been escalating in recent years due to the number of nicotine-containing products now available for humans.
Nicotine is in everything from cigars, cigarettes, and cigarette butts, to nicotine patches, vaping liquids and more. It’s easy for dogs to be exposed to this toxic substance, even if their parents are non-smokers. For instance, cigarette butts may be found while out walking your canine companion. It’s on the ground in front of him, and he could snatch it up before you even realize it.
Dangers of Nicotine Poisoning in Dogs
Cigarettes and cigars can contain anywhere from 9 to 30 milligrams of nicotine. And much of the nicotine is trapped in the filter found in the cigarette butt.
In dogs, 2.2 milligrams of nicotine per body weight is enough to make a dog very sick. If a small dog eats this much nicotine, it could become very ill, and even a large dog eating this amount of nicotine could become sick. The lethal dose for most dogs is 20 milligrams of nicotine per pound of body weight.
Symptoms of Nicotine Poisoning in Dogs
Nicotine poisoning in dogs can cause a number of symptoms including:
- High blood pressure
- Low blood pressure
- Slowed, shallow breathing or rapid breathing
- Abnormal heart rate
- Weak, irregular pulse
- Uncoordinated movements
- Extreme excitement
- Dilated pupils
If your dog has eaten a cigarette, cigarette butt or a cigar, and then vomited, you should still call the vet, even if your fur baby seems to be OK. He could still suffer the effects of the nicotine. This should be treated as a life-threatening medical emergency.
The prognosis is good for dogs that receive treatment within less than four hours after ingesting nicotine. With prompt treatment, dogs can recover.
Always seek prompt medical care with your vet if you see your dog or puppy eat any item that contains nicotine. You may just save his life.