19 September 2018

My Dog Ate A Cigarette Butt, Is This Dangerous?

Nicotine is a serious toxin to dogs so whole cigarettes and cigarette butts can be a hazard if swallowed. But how serious is it if your dog swallows a cigarette? How many cigarettes would be a serious toxic dose? What should you do if your dog eats cigarettes or butts, should you take him straight to the vet? What would be the symptoms and treatment be for nicotine poisoning in the dog?

Cigarettes and cigarette butts can be toxic to dogs.
Cigarettes and cigarette butts can be toxic to dogs.

1. Cigarettes do seem to be attractive to some dogs because I have known dogs swallow them now and again, typically they raid the ashtray for butts or steal whole packets of cigarettes which their owners have left lying about.

2. But how do you know how serious this situation is? Well, there are guidelines, nicotine is a serious toxin to dogs and can be fatal at doses of 9.2 mg per kg of the dog's body weight. Whole cigarettes contain between 13 - 30 mg of nicotine depending on brand so you can quickly run up a calculation to see how serious your particular incident is. { One Kg = 2.2 pounds }

If your dog has swallowed a relatively small dose of nicotine based on the above numbers then he or she is probably in no danger.

3. What symptoms might you expect: In the early stage these could include drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, and dilated pupils. With larger doses, lethargy and incoordination are common as are tremors and in some cases even seizures.

4. What treatments can be used: One of the best things to do where your dog has swallowed any sort of potentially toxic substance such as cigarettes is to immediately induce vomiting and recover whatever it was your dog swallowed. If you can do this within the first hour after ingestion then this may be possible.

A commonly used way to induce vomiting in the dog is with 3% hydrogen peroxide { Not hair colouring peroxide } A usual dose is one teaspoon { 5 ml } per 10 pounds of the dog's body weight given orally.

Vomiting will normally occur within 15 minutes but if no vomiting occurs after this time you can safely repeat the process a second time.

Where it was not possible to quickly induce vomiting then repeated doses of activated charcoal may be of value.

Where serious symptoms are occurring then you should get your vet involved ASAP, these dogs are normally hospitalised and your vet may choose treatments such as oxygen, IV fluids, and prescription drugs to control seizures.

I hope you have found this article to be of value.

Dr Scott