We have been told that “smoking is bad for you”…but for your pet, nicotine can be fatal. The trend of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) has made this even more apparent.
E-cigarettes convert nicotine solution into a vapor instead of smoke, and the liquid cartridges may have high doses of nicotine. A 1-milliliter cartridge for an e-cigarette can contain between 0 and 36 milligrams of nicotine. A regular cigarette contains about 12 milligrams of nicotine, so some cartridges would be equal to three cigarettes.
It takes a small amount of nicotine to poison a pet through ingestion. Just 5 milligrams may cause clinical signs in a small dog or cat. The liquid refills for e-cigarettes are especially a problem. They can contain from 369 to 2,160 milligrams of nicotine, depending on the size of the bottle, which is more than enough to be fatal to even the largest dog.
Signs of nicotine toxicity include excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, and increased respiratory rate. These can progress to disorientation, tremors, seizures, heart abnormalities, paralysis, coma, and death.
If a pet eats a regular cigarette, it can take a few hours for signs of nicotine toxicity. However, e-cigarette liquid is rapidly absorbed through the gums and skin, so signs can start within 15 to 30 minutes of exposure.
Emergency veterinary treatment is needed for nicotine toxicity!