Vet warns of e-cigarette poisoning, health risk of liquid nicotine to pets

Posted at 9:10 PM, Sep 09, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-09 23:20:58-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Many might argue the health benefits of e-cigarettes, but that doesn't mean they're safe for your pets.

With the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, health experts say many users aren't aware of the health risks liquid nicotine can pose to dogs.

Experts say what makes it more dangerous is that the nicotine is often times flavored and dogs might ingest more than they might other poisonous substances.

"Because they are flavored and taste good, they may be appealing to them and they may ingest enough to really cause some toxicity problems. In a puppy this size, as few as two of the little cartridges will be enough to cause severe toxicity," said Dr. Randall Carpenter at Family Friends Veterinarian Hospital in Grand Rapids.

Dr. Carpenter said that the best method of prevention is to keep the substance out of reach.

"Purses, you got to be careful because if they are in a purse, a pet is going to be able to, or a child is going to be able to get in the purse and get a hold of these," said Dr. Carpenter.

If your pet ingests liquid nicotine, vets say the side effects include vomiting, seizures and an increased heart rate. If a pet ingests enough, it could be fatal.

"Most cartridges are either plastic or a fine thin metal. No problem for dogs and even cats to chew through those," said Dr. Carpenter.

He added that if your pet gets a hold of and ingests liquid nicotine, you should take the animal to a vet right away.

"Time is important. If an animal has ingested it, and doesn't seek immediate attention, there is a potential for it to be fatal," said Dr. Carpenter.

Dr. Carpenter said that another poisonous substance that actually taste good to pets is antifreeze because of its sweetness.

It's not just dogs, but liquid nicotine poses a health risk to other pets as well as children.