A friendly reminder to be extra cautious with all nicotine products around animals, after recent cases of poisoning.
In the last few weeks, there have been 3 cases of nicotine poisoning associated with vape juice (the liquid used to fill e-cigarettes). Yes, vapes pose a potential health risk to your pets!
The dangers of nicotine
We all know the risks of animals inhaling second-hand tobacco smoke and, in households where smokers have switched to e-cigarettes, we have seen health benefits for pets (e.g. reduced cancer rates, asthma, etc.).
However, while the vapour from e-cigarettes does not pose a risk to them, the issue comes when the e-juice is ingested or gets on their skin.
A toxic dose of nicotine for an animal is only 1mg per kg.
1ml of e-juice contains up to 36mg
A cigarette butt has 2-8mg
Nicotine patches contain up to 114mg
Nicotine gum has 2-4mg per piece.
When it comes to eating tobacco, thankfully, it tastes terrible. As such, we have only seen occasional poisoning from this method - usually, when a puppy eats it for the first time, or a cat bites into a cigarette butt, thinking it is a fun toy.
There is enough nicotine in the foam to poison a cat.
Vape juice is much more palatable than tobacco, making it more of a risk to our pets.
Clinicial signs of nicotine poisoning
Clinical signs often develop within an hour of exposure and can be quickly fatal. They include:
Vomiting and diarrhoea
Twitching, which may progress to seizures
After some time, the heart rate may slow and the animal may become almost sleepy.
If you think your pet may have come into contact with an e-cigarette (or other nicotine-containing product), please contact your vet immediately! As with all poisonings, the sooner we can initiate treatment, the better the outcome.
Recent cases of e-juice poisoning
Case 1: A cat had either walked through, or kicked, some spilled e-juice.
The liquid can be absorbed very quickly through the skin or the oral mucosa.
This cat had been found foaming around the mouth, retching and presented completely “wired” - twitching, with a very fast heart rate.
Cases 2 & 3: Two large, mixed breed dogs, weighing around 30kg, had gotten hold of a 30mg, apple-flavoured bottle of vape juice. The bottle was made of soft, squishy plastic, so the dogs chewed it!
Most of the juice went on the carpet, but enough went into the mouth to cause one dog to be sick. They also were “wired”, with a fast heart rate and twitching.
The other dog appeared normal, so either they were not exposed, or received insufficient levels of nicotine to cause any illness.