Cigarettes can be found anywhere – on the ground, in water, or even in your own home. But what are the effects of a dog or cat eating a cigarette? If your dog or cat eats a cigarette, they can experience harmful symptoms. Cigarettes contain nicotine, a rapid-acting toxin. Other tobacco products can contain nicotine, which is also harmful to dogs and cats. Related tobacco products include cigars, chewing tobacco, hookah and vape pens. Pets can experience adverse effects if they consume cigarettes or any product containing tobacco. 

Clinical Signs of Nicotine Poisoning 

Nicotine is a fast-acting substance and there is a rapid onset of poisoning 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 amount of nicotine they consumed can affect the severity of the symptoms. Common symptoms for dogs and cats include: 

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

Treatment for Nicotine Poisoning 

If you find your pet eating a cigarette, call Pet Poison Helpline® at (855) 764-7661 and your veterinarian right away, so they can give you medical advice and instructions for the next steps to take. Since the symptoms come on quickly, seeking treatment is time sensitive. It is important to get your pet to a vet as soon as possible. Your vet will monitor your pet’s heart rate, blood pressure, and neurological status. Your pet may receive various medications to address vomiting and diarrhea. IV fluids may be used to address hydration. The vet will try to get rid of any remaining nicotine in your pet’s body. Your dog or cat should be able to recover but it’s a good idea to ask your vet for a specific recovery plan. You can try to prevent future nicotine poisoning by monitoring your pet’s environment. 

Contact Pet Poison Helpline® at (855)764-7661 with any additional questions or concerns.