E-cigarettes and Pets

Electronic cigarettes – those battery-powered devices that simulate smoking – are becoming more common in households.  And while some manufacturers are using childproof measures, this frequently doesn’t deter dogs and their urge to chew.

Nicotine toxicity is not a new toxicity, and whether from cigarettes, patches, insecticides or gum, the level of toxicity and signs seen remain the same.

Here are some factors that make e-cigs and the liquid nicotine with them different:

  • Potentially a high nicotine concentration of 1 to 10 percent
  • The product may often be poorly labeled
  • Liquid formation that means absorption more quickly for faster onset of signs, leaving less time for decontamination efforts
  • While carriers may be propylene glycol and glycerin, there have been reports of them containing diethylene glycol, which can cause acidosis and kidney injury
  • Products may be flavored, such as milkshake or chocolate, making them more attractive to pets

Nicotine acts on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors that are present in the autonomic nervous system. It causes an initial stimulation of the autonomic ganglia at lower doses and blocks them at higher doses.

The body systems most commonly involved are the CNS, cardiovascular system and gastrointestinal tract. Initially excitation, tachypnea, salivation, lacrimation, emesis, diarrhea may be seen clinically. Those can be followed by muscle weakness, twitching, depression, tachycardia, shallow, slow respiration, collapse, coma, cyanosis, cardiac arrest, death.



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