We are all told that ‘smoking is bad for you’. But for your pet, nicotine can be fatal. The trend in electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) has made this even more apparent.
E-cigarettes work by converting nicotine solution into a vapor instead of smoke. However, the cartridges may have high doses of nicotine. Depending on the type of e-cigarette, a 1 milliliter cartridge can contain from 0 to 36 mg of nicotine. A regular cigarette contains about 12 mg, so some cartridges would be equal to three cigarettes.
It takes a small amount of nicotine to poison a pet. Just 5 mg can be toxic to a small dog or cat. The bottles of liquid used to refill e-cigarette cartridges can range from 360 mg to 2160 mg – which is more than enough to be fatal to even the largest dog.
Signs of nicotine toxicity include excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, and increased respiratory rate. These can progress to disorientation, tremors, seizures, heart abnormalities, paralysis, coma, and death.
If a pet eats a regular cigarette, it can take a few hours for signs of nicotine toxicity. However, e-cigarette liquid is rapidly absorbed through the gums and skin, so signs can start within 15 to 30 minutes of exposure.
Immediate veterinary treatment is needed for nicotine toxicity. Convulsions or seizures would be managed, as well as monitoring heart and respiratory issues. Intravenous fluids will also be essential to help eliminate nicotine from the system.
VCA Desert Animal Hospital located at 4299 E. Ramon Road, Palm Springs, CA 92264. Visit www.vcadesert.co