The ASPCA Poison Control Center says that electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) often contain high concentrations of nicotine, which is a dangerous poison for dogs and cats. Nicotine exposures are increasing, and the types of exposures are changing.
In 2012, e-cigarettes made up 4.6% of total nicotine exposures (including tobacco cigarettes, nicotine gum, e-cigarettes, and nicotine patches), but in 2013, this number increased to 13.6%; and it’s expected to continue rising.
Nicotine is dangerous for pets, and e-cigarettes and refills can contain far more nicotine than regular cigarettes. E-cigarettes are filled with liquid nicotine that may contain up to 16 mg/ml of nicotine (80 mg/teaspoon): double the amount in a plain cigarette. Refill liquid is even worse, with up to 100 mg/ml (500 mg/teaspoon). This is supposed to be diluted by the user to a lower concentration when refilling e-cigarette cartridges, but if your pet gets hold of one (flavorings may make it especially enticing), it poses the gravest risk.
The most common clinical sign of nicotine toxicity in dogs and cats is vomiting (usually within 30-60 minutes); other signs include diarrhea, drooling, and restlessness. Heart arrhythmias, tremors and seizures can occur with a higher level of exposure.
Liquid nicotine can be absorbed directly through the skin or mucous membranes of the mouth, so even playing with a refill bottle or cartridge can be quite dangerous for pets.
Nicotine poisoning progresses quickly and is considered an emergency. If you think your pet has ingested nicotine (e-cigarettes, patches, gum or tobacco) and your pet is vomiting, agitated or lethargic, call your veterinarian immediately or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.
Always keep all nicotine-containing products securely out of the reach of pets and children.
(If you would like to quit smoking or using nicotine-containing products of any kind, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) can help! Check out the expanded free website for all things EFT at www.emofree.com!)