E-cigarettes are becoming a popular alternative to regular cigarettes, especially amongst people who want to stop smoking. They are battery-operated gadgets that heat up liquid containing nicotine, and the vapor is inhaled by the smoker. It is important to remember that nicotine is toxic to pets regardless of form and shape.
Many e-cigarettes come with cartridges filled with liquid. Others accompany little bottles where the smoker drips nicotine fluid on a special material. One cartridge can contain enough nicotine to make a 50 lbs dog very sick, and to kill a 10 lbs dog.
Regular cigarettes, nicotine chewing gum, patches, and lozenges are also dangerous to pets and children. The major difference between these and e-cigarette liquid is the concentration of nicotine. Be very careful to store both the cigarettes and paraphernalia out of reach.
What are the signs?
Dogs can develop vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, elevations in heart rate and respiration rate, depression, tremors, weakness, seizures, come, cardiac arrest, and death. These signs generally come quickly, and it is not possible to treat this at home. Even a small dose of nicotine requires veterinary care!
How much does it take to hurt a pet?
Chewing on the actual e-cigarette is bad enough, but as previously mentioned, cartridges and/or fluid are the most dangerous. The most common cartridges contain between 6 and 24 mg of nicotine along with propylene glycol, flavors, and other liquids. Call a vet immediately even if your pet "only" ate one cartridge.
Prevention is key
Keeping everything out of reach for everyone is easier said than done, but make a routine of putting things away in a cupboard or similar where pets and children can't reach it. If this isn't possible, consider a box with a lock they can't open. Write down the number for your regular vet and all emergency vets in the area in a place where it's easy to find. Having it in a cell phone is great, but also having it on a note on a the wall is better. If you have it in two places you have better odds of finding it in a stressful situation.
~ Maria Sadowski ~