My Dog Ate A Cigarette Butt or a Cigar What Should I Do?

Reviewed By Tom •  Updated: 03/21/24 •  4 min read
Dog Severe Toxicity Level
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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.

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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.

Where Can Dogs Find Cigarette Butts & Cigars?

When you’re out for a walk, your dog may find a cigarette butt or cigar. People commonly throw these away in parking lots, parks, on the street, and other public spaces. Your fur baby may find one of these and swallow it down before you can tell him to stop.

It is strongly recommended to contact a Pet Poison Helpline or your veterinarian.

If anyone in your home smokes, it’s possible your fur baby could find cigarette butts and cigars anywhere. He may find them in the living room, in the car, or even in the garden.

But nicotine can also be found in stop-smoking aids, such as gum, patches, and more. Some e-cigs also use aerosol containers that contain chemicals such as nicotine. These can also cause nicotine poisoning if eaten.

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:

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.

Treatment of Nicotine Poisoning in Dogs

After diagnosis of your dog’s condition, the vet will work to decontaminate his system. Decontamination may be done with activated charcoal and inducing vomiting. IV fluids may also be given to ensure your dog stays hydrated and to flush his system of the nicotine.

The vet will treat other symptoms if they arise. Your fur baby will receive medications to treat these issues. In some cases of severe poisoning, your dog may need to be hospitalized. He will be able to come home once he’s feeling better.

The prognosis is good for dogs that receive treatment within less than four hours after ingesting nicotine. With prompt treatment, dogs can recover.

Keep Your Dog from Eating Nicotine-Containing Products

The best way to keep your dog from developing nicotine toxicity is to ensure all e-cigs, cigarettes, cigars, cigarette and cigar butts, and nicotine-containing medications are kept out of your dog’s reach. Ensure all ashtrays are emptied and out of his reach.

You may also want to invest in a dog-proof wastebasket to keep your dog from eating trash. He may be tempted to access cigarette butts and cigars he finds in the trash.

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.

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Tom

Tom has always loved to write since he was little - he wanted to be either a writer or a veterinary doctor, but he ended up being a professional writer while most of his works are based on animals. He was born in San Francisco but later moved to Texas to continue his job as a writer. He graduated from the University of San Francisco where he studied biotechnology. He is happily married and a soon to be father!

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