Nic, cigs, dips, darts, cancer sticks, etc. These are the many street names by which cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and other nicotine-containing products go. E-cigarettes or vape pens have become increasingly popular in recent years. Lawmakers, lobbyists, and medical professionals have debated the health risks that these can have on humans. Pet owners also know the threat is real and imminent if nicotine products and accompanying accessories encounter our beloved pets. 

What Are E-Cigarettes and What Makes Them Toxic to Pets? 

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices used to vaporize liquid nicotine so that can be inhaled. These cigarettes are available in assorted flavors, ranging from minty to fruity. The alluring aroma of these flavors can entice pets, making them even more of a hazard. The nicotine in e-cigarette refill cartridges contains the equivalent of two traditional cigarettes, and each pack may contain up to 100 cartridges. 

If a large 50-pound dog should ingest a single cartridge, this might not cause life-threatening consequences, though clinical signs like vomiting, ataxia, and agitation could occur. But if a smaller dog ingested just the same amount, this could mean death. Additionally, if your dog should chew and swallow the refill casings, it can potentially cause gastrointestinal obstruction and constipation. 

Symptoms Of Nic Poisoning in Pets 

Because nicotine is a fast-acting substance, there would be a rapid onset of clinical symptoms if ingested. Smoking nicotine gives an almost instantaneous stimulation of the central nervous system, but if your pet should ingest it, symptoms may start to appear within 15-60 minutes. 

The general symptoms for dogs and cats include; 

  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Agitation 
  • Elevated heartbeat 
  • Respiratory depression 
  • Tremors 
  • Weakness 
  • Lack of coordination 
  • Seizures 
  • Cardiac arrest 

Treating Nicotine Poisoning 

The rapid onset of symptoms from nicotine poisoning makes effective treatment time sensitive. Home care is not a valid option, and the earlier you get a poisoned pet to the veterinarian, the better their chances of survival from nicotine poisoning. Call Pet Poison Helpline® at (855) 764-7661 to help navigate a nicotine poisoning emergency while you get your furry companion to the vet. Your veterinarian may prescribe activated charcoal to stop further absorption of nicotine into the bloodstream. Also, IV fluids and other supportive care measures may be initiated by your vet. However, the best treatment remains prevention, so you should keep nicotine-containing substances such as vials and refill cartridges away from the reach of pets.