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In today’s veterinary blog, while medical professionals are determining the relative safety of e-cigarettes for humans, they remain toxic for our pets.

The nicotine in the battery-operated e-cigarrate device poses a serious threat to pets; in fact, the Pet Poison Helpline reports that nicotine poisoning in pets is on the rise.

In today’s blog, What to do if my dog eats an e-cigarette with Dr. Dan Hume, WESTVET Erwe asked WestVet’s Chief of Emergency & Critical CareDr. Dan Hume, about the dangers of these products in pet families.

Question: What should I do if my pet ingests an e-cigarette?

Answer: While designed to resemble cigarettes these devices atomize liquid that contains nicotine into a vapor to be inhaled. What makes this product attractive to dogs is the wide array of scents and flavors—after smelling the aromas, he/she will want to ingest them. 

There are two concerns if a pet eats an electronic cigarette. First we can see gastrointestinal injury and a possible mechanical obstruction secondary to local damage by the actual delivery device or cartridge.

The primary concern is with cigarette OR e-cigarette ingestion is nicotine intoxication. Each cartridge contains 6 mg to 24 mg of Nicotine.  The average American cigarette contains 9 mg of nicotine.  Depending on the size of the pet, we can see clinical signs with the partial ingestion of a single cartridge. Dogs can develop clinical signs of vomiting, diarrhea, agitation and elevated heart rate and respiration rate. Neurological signs include tremors, ataxia, weakness, seizures and altered mental status. Cardiac arrest and death can be seen with large ingestions.

A rapid onset of clinical signs (within 15-30 minutes) is usually noted because the nicotine is in liquid form and can be quickly absorbed from the GI tract. Ingestion of an e-cigarette or e-cigarette cartridge requires immediate veterinary care and treatment. Due to the rapid onset of clinical signs, emesis is not generally recommended. Treatment is largely supportive in nature and therapies are directed at reducing the clinical signs and preventing further complications.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  — Benjamin Franklin

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