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Dogs love getting into things they shouldn’t — whether on the sidewalk or in your purse. So what should you do if your dog accidentally eats a cigarette or cigarette butt? Cigarettes can be extremely dangerous for dogs because of their primary ingredient — nicotine. Here’s what you need to do if you suspect your dog ate one.

Dangers of Nicotine to Dogs

An ashtray filled with cigarette butts, a pack of cigarettes left on a table, or even a cigarette butt in the grass can be pure poison for your dog. Nicotine is a rapid-acting toxin that, in extreme cases, can cause cardiac arrest.

Dachshund with its owner getting checked by a veterinarian.
Alexander Raths via Getty Images

The amount of nicotine in cigarettes varies, but the average one contains 9-30 mg, most of which is concentrated in the cigarette butt. So even if your dog has just found a cigarette butt in the sidewalk cracks, it can still be dangerous. The impact will depend on how much was ingested and the size of your dog.

Because nicotine is fast-acting, your dog will most likely show signs of being affected within an hour. Call your veterinarian and take your dog in as soon as possible if you suspect they may have ingested a cigarette.

Symptoms of Nicotine Poisoning in Dogs

Treating Dogs Who Have Eaten Cigarettes

Timing is crucial. If you take your pet to the vet early enough, your veterinarian can help prevent the nicotine from being absorbed and treat any symptoms your pet starts to show. Your vet may induce vomiting and provide intravenous fluids, making sure the dog’s heart and blood pressures remain regular.

Golden Retriever getting comforted while lying on a table at the vet.
alexsokolov/Getty Images Plus

The prognosis for your dog will depend on how much they ingested and how big they are. Small dogs can be affected by even the smallest amount of nicotine. Bigger dogs don’t take much more to be affected. Dogs who have only ingested a small amount have the best odds of making a full recovery.

Preventing Cigarette Poisoning in Dogs

Keep any nicotine products — including e-cigarettes and nicotine gum and patches — away from your dog in a secure place. Be aware that marijuana is also poisonous to dogs.

When you visit outdoor restaurants with your pet dog or go on walks with them, make sure to examine the area and keep your dog from eating anything on the ground. When in doubt, call your vet immediately.

Related article: How Does Wildfire Smoke Affect Dogs?
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