I’m sure you’re not surprised to find out that nicotine is toxic to dogs. What you might find surprising is that even the butt that’s left behind might be deadly to your dog. Many tobacco products smell like food and can be very tasty to dogs.
- Cigarettes contain flavors like mint
- Chewing tobaccos are available in wintergreen, peach, apple and butternut flavors
- Nicotine gums are commonly mint or orange flavored
Even though the tobacco might be gone from the cigarette butt, a large amount of nicotine will still be present in the filter that’s left behind. In reality, nicotine is toxic for humans too. That sick and nauseous feeling you get the first time you take a drag off of a cigarette is actually because you have nicotine poisoning.
While our human bodies over time can build up a tolerance to the addictive nature of nicotine, dogs don’t have that ability. Even if a dog eats as few as one or two cigarette butts, it can kill them.
I have heard some people claim that cigarette butts are not harmful to dogs, but I’ve seen nicotine poisoning of a dog firsthand — and it’s not pretty!
It only takes 5 mg of nicotine per pound of pet weight to be toxic, and 10 mg/kg can be lethal.
Since a small dog can weigh under 10 pounds, and a cigarette butt can contain up to 4 to 8 mg of nicotine, you can see how if a small dog eats even a couple of cigarette butts it could be fatal.
Signs Of Nicotine Poisoning In Dogs
Here are some symptoms of nicotine poisoning in pets to watch for if you think your dog has eaten a cigarette butt. (Keep in mind that some of these symptoms can be true of other types of poisoning as well.)
- Bad coordination, inability to stand or walk
- Difficulty breathing or fast breathing
- Heart problems such as a slow heartbeat, a fast heartbeat, or even cardiac arrhythmia
These are just a few of the common symptoms for dogs that have ingested any kind of product that has nicotine in it, not just cigarette butts.
While it’s possible that if your dog hasn’t eaten enough of a cigarette butt (or you caught him and took it away) that he might be okay, it’s wise if your dog has ingested a cigarette butt (or you think he may have) to call your vet or take your dog to an emergency pet clinic. It’s always best to error on the side of caution, rather than take a chance with your four-legged friend.