E-Cigarettes and Pets Do Not Mix

E-cigarettes are
sparking heated debates as lawmakers, medical professionals and industry
grapple over the relative safety of the nicotine-delivering devices. But for
pet owners, there is no debate. Nicotine poses a serious threat of poisoning to
dogs and cats, and e-cigarettes back a powerful punch. The problem is that many
pet owners don’t realize it. 
Pet Poison Helpline has
encountered a sharp uptick in calls concerning cases of nicotine poisoning in
pets that ingested e-cigarettes or liquid nicotine refill solution. In fact,
over the past six months, cases have more than doubled, indicating that along
with their increased popularity, the nicotine-delivering devices are becoming a
more significant threat to pets. While dogs account for the majority of cases,
nicotine in e-cigarettes and liquid refill solution is toxic to cats as well.
“We’ve handled cases for pets poisoned by eating traditional cigarettes or
tobacco products containing nicotine for many years,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM,
MS, DABT, DABVT and associate director of veterinary services at Pet Poison
Helpline. “But, as the use of e-cigarettes has become more widespread, our call
volume for cases involving them has increased considerably.” In an effort to
educate pet owners before an accident occurs, Pet Poison Helpline offers this
important safety information. 
What are
e-cigarettes? 
E-cigarettes are simply
another way of delivering nicotine. Designed to resemble traditional
cigarettes, the battery operated devices atomize liquid that contains nicotine,
turning it into a vapor that can be inhaled. The most recent craze is flavored
e-cigarettes, which are available in an array of flavors from peppermint to
banana cream pie, and everything in between. 
What makes e-cigarettes
toxic to pets? 
The aroma of liquid
nicotine in e-cigarettes can be alluring to dogs, and flavored e-cigarettes
could be even more enticing. The issue is the amount of nicotine in each
cartridge, which is between 6 mg and 24 mg. So, each cartridge contains the
nicotine equivalent of one to two traditional cigarettes, but purchase packs of
five to 100 cartridges multiply that amount many times over, posing a serious
threat to pets who chew them. For example, if a single cartridge is ingested by
a 50-pound dog, clinical signs of poisoning are likely to occur. But if a dog
that weighs 10 pounds ingests the same amount, death is possible. Dogs of any
weight that ingest multiple e-cigarette cartridges are at risk for severe
poisoning and even death. In addition to the toxicity of nicotine, the actual
e-cigarette casing can result in oral injury when chewed, and can cause
gastrointestinal upset with the risk of a foreign body obstruction. Some
e-cigarette users buy vials of liquid nicotine solution for refilling
e-cigarette cartridges. The solution is commonly referred to as “e-liquid” or
“e-juice.” The small bottles hold enough liquid to fill multiple cartridges,
meaning they contain a considerable amount of nicotine. Pet owners should be
very careful to store them out of the reach of pets. 
What happens when
e-cigarettes are ingested by pets?
Nicotine poisoning in
pets has a rapid onset of symptoms – generally within 15 to 60 minutes
following ingestion. Symptoms for dogs and cats include vomiting, diarrhea,
agitation, elevations in heart rate and respiration rate, depression, tremors,
ataxia, weakness, seizures, cyanosis, coma, and cardiac arrest. 
What to do if a pet is
exposed? 
Because nicotine
poisoning can happen so rapidly following ingestion, prompt veterinary care can
mean the difference between life and death for a pet. Home care is not
generally possible with nicotine exposure due to the severity of poisoning,
even in small doses. Take action immediately by contacting a veterinarian or
Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680. As always, prevention is the best
medicine. E-cigarettes, cartridges and vials of refilling solution should
always be kept out of the reach of pets and children. 
SOURCE: http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/2014/09/e-cigarettes-pets-mix/   Published on September 2, 2014