Are Cigarette Butts Poisonous To Dogs?

teacup-yorkshire-terrier-dog-cigarette-by-swatjester.jpg It should come as no surprise to anyone that a dog might eat a cigarette butt, or any other kind of tobacco product for that matter.

Dogs might find them tasty, since many tobacco products smell like food!

  • Cigarettes have flavors such as mint, for example.
  • Chewing tobaccos come in wintergreen, peach, apple and butternut flavors
  • Nicotine gums are commonly mint or orange flavored.

The problem is that cigarette butts and other forms of tobacco products have an ingredient that is very dangerous to pets, and in particular dogs. That ingredient is nicotine.

In reality, nicotine is toxic for humans too. That sick and nauseous feeling you get the first time you take a drag off of a cigarette is actually because you have nicotine poisoning.

While our human bodies over time can build up a tolerance to the addictive nature of nicotine, dogs don’t have that ability. Even if a dog eats as few as one or two cigarette butts, it can kill them.

I have heard some people claim that cigarette butts are not harmful to dogs, but I’ve seen nicotine poisoning of a dog firsthand — and it’s not pretty!

It only takes 5 mg of nicotine per pound of pet weight to be toxic, and 10 mg/kg can be lethal.

Since a small dog can weigh under 10 pounds, and a cigarette butt can contain up to 4 to 8 mg of nicotine, you can see how if a small dog eats even a couple of cigarette butts it could be fatal.

The biggest problem with cigarette butts is that much of the nicotine was drawn into the filter when a person smoked that cigarette, so cigarette butts tend to have a high concentration of nicotine.


Signs Of Nicotine Poisoning In Dogs

Here are some symptoms of nicotine poisoning in pets to watch for if you think your dog has eaten a cigarette butt. (Keep in mind that some of these symptoms can be true of other types of poisoning as well.)

  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Bad coordination, inability to stand or walk
  • Difficulty breathing or fast breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Heart problems such as a slow heartbeat, a fast heartbeat, or even cardiac arrhythmia

These are just a few of the common symptoms for dogs that have ingested any kind of product that has nicotine in it, not just cigarette butts.

While it’s possible that if your dog hasn’t eaten enough of a cigarette butt (or you caught him and took it away) that he might be okay, it’s wise if your dog has ingested a cigarette butt (or you think he may have) to call your vet or take your dog to an emergency pet clinic. It’s always best to error on the side of caution, rather than take a chance with your four-legged friend.





Some of my favorite things to write about are topics that have to do with living green, saving money, pregnancy, weddings, and dogs. When I'm not writing, I love to spend time with my husband, read, create 3D artwork and Native American beadwork.

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  • Katherine Bridget Smith

    My doberman ate about 100 butts out of my big ashtray, and licked up the ashes. That was two months ago and he’s fine, so I don’t know exactly how accurate this information is. I’m not assuming it’s good for dogs to eat cigs but I doubt it’s as harmful as this article makes it out to be.

  • JD

    My dog just ate one of my husband’s cigarettes, He is a Collie and only 5 months old, 25 lbs. I am a
    little concerned, so I will watch him and call the vet in the morning.

    • FunTimesGuide

      Hi JD. I trust your Collie was okay? Always better to be safe than sorry… especially when you’re dealing with a young puppy and/or a low-weight dog. If you get this message, please let us know what the vet said….

  • JD

    He is okay. I did not call the vet, he is happy, very normal, active as always. I watched him all night. He was tired, but at the end of the day he always goes right off to sleep. He is doing very well , not sick at all.

  • Anne Reagan

    My Jack Russell steals
    cigarette butts when he has worms, it’s usually the first sign that we need to
    de-worm him. I’ve heard that doing this is some dog’s natural instinct to fix
    their problem themself. I don’t know how accurate but like I said he doesn’t do
    it unless he has worms.

  • Serena G.

    I think my puppy was chewing on a but, he did not swallow it but is acting strange today. He won’t leave my side, has the shakes and not active at all. Can I give him proxide to induce vomitting as I can’t get to a get right now