Vets Warning on E-Cigarettes

April 29, 2022 2 min read

Are you using e-cigarettes to quit smoking?  If so, you need to read on, especially if you have a four legged friend living amongst your household.

There’s been a 300 per cent increase in the number of cases of e-cigarette poisoning in the last 12 months.  The victims were not humans but our beloved pets.  This alarming data came from the Veterinary Poisons Information Service.

The first British pet to come to harm from an electronic cigarette was a Staffordshire bull terrier called Ivy.  The unfortunate incident occurred when Ivy chewed on a bottle of e liquid used in the e cig.  Soon after ingesting the substance, Ivy became obviously ill and started frothing in the mouth.  Although her owner had rushed her to the vets where she was given large doses of steroids to counter the poisoning, Ivy passed away within hours.

Since then, there’s been a systematic rise in the number of e-cigarette poisoning cases affecting household pets.  With an estimated four million people in the country using these to quit smoking, vets are understandably worried.

Why pets are at serious risk

Most pet owners are aware of just how much dogs and cats love gnawing on foreign objects, so the problem isn’t so much that pet owners aren’t diligent enough when it comes to keeping their nicotine capsules away in safe places.

Instead, accidents tend to occur when pet owners take out their e-cigarette devices for use.  One slip of the hand results in the nicotine filled capsule falling onto the floor, where an awaiting pet eagerly swoops up the prize before anyone can manage to say no or bend down to pick it back up.

Unfortunately, these capsules contain a host of chemicals, including propylene glycol, polyethylene glycol 400, vegetable glycerine, various flavourings plus different amounts of nicotine.  Experts say that a dog would only need to ingest a mere 10 milligrams of nicotine per kilogram of animal weight for it to be a health risk.  That means a 10 kilogram dog would come to harm if it takes in 100 milligrams of nicotine.

Symptoms of nicotine poisoning include vomiting, seizures and muscle spasms.  In severe poisoning, it damages the central nervous system and causes respiratory failure.

How can accidents avoided?

While no one means for an accident to happen, there are certainly a number of ways to reduce the chance of a mishap.

For example, you can make it a habit that your pet stays out in the garden while you use your e-cigarette devices.  That way your pet will always be far from the danger area.

If you don’t have the luxury of a private garden or courtyard, you can create a “no pet zone” somewhere in your house to store and use your e-cigarettes instead.  It can be any room inside your property, as long as it has a door to help you keep out your four legged friend.

Wherever you choose to store your e-cigarette devices and nicotine capsules, they should always be stored away securely in a lockable draw or an overhead cupboard so that your pet can’t get to it easily.