A New Risk To Your Best Friend: E-Cigarettes
Over the past two to three years, the use of e-cigarettes has increased exponentially among smokers who wish to quit the habit and believe they can do so by getting their nicotine hit through a vaporizer. However, this means more people are likely to have e-cigs lying around on coffee tables or other surfaces accessible to their dog. This can lead to catastrophic consequences, as a vaporizer represents a threat to your dog’s health on two fronts: the lithium ion battery and the flavored liquid high in nicotine.
The Lithium Ion Battery
Should a dog chew an e-cig, he may accidentally swallow the battery which powers the LED tip. In the moist environment of the gut, the battery discharges an electrical current which damages soft tissue and causes cells to die off. In a frighteningly short amount of time, as little as 15 to 30 minutes, this damage can cause ulcers, which then perforate the gut and result in life-threatening peritonitis.
If your dog does chew an e-cig then check to see if the battery is missing. If it is, contact your veterinarian immediately. It may be necessary to X-ray the dog to confirm the presence of the battery, and then perform emergency surgery to remove it before the electric current perforates the bowel wall.
The Flavored Liquid
The liquid part of a vaporizer has a scent that is attractive to dogs. The risk is especially high for young, inquisitive dogs that are drawn to the e-cig or a refill unit by the smell. If the dog chews the cartridge, he can absorb nicotine across the mucous membranes of his mouth; if he swallows it whole, the nicotine will be released into his intestine, where it is readily absorbed into his bloodstream.
Once swallowed, the first sign you may notice is the dog drooling heavily, and then he develops sickness or diarrhea. Because nicotine stimulates the central nervous system, he can develop tremors or even seizures, which may worsen until the dog collapses. Nicotine also overstimulates the heart and causes high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat. Ultimately, the respiratory muscles become paralyzed and the dog suffocates; this is the most common cause of death in dogs that chew e-cigs.
There is no cure for nicotine poisoning, so it is essential to prevent your dog gaining access to your e-cigs in the first place. Keep the vaporizers out of reach at all times, and when they’re not in use, keep them in a locked cabinet in much the same way you lock away medications that are dangerous to dogs. Remember, dog and e-cigs simply don’t mix, so for the sake of all involved, keep them well apart.