What are e-cigarettes?
Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices, usually with a rechargeable battery designed to simulate tobacco smoking. They have recently increased in popularity and are thought to be associated with fewer adverse health effects than smoking, although long term studies on the health effects of vaping are lacking.
E-cigarettes or vapes are usually refillable, and refills are available in different strengths and various flavours. The liquid is referred to as vape liquid, vape fluid, vape juice, e-liquid, e-juice etc.
Since May 2017 vape refills may only be sold legally in a maximum capacity of 10ml and the maximum quantity of nicotine allowed is 20mg in every ml of liquid.
What’s in vape liquid?
The contents vary but they are usually made up largely of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine and/or polyethylene glycol as a base with nicotine in various strengths (although some varieties are nicotine free) and flavours (pretty much any you could think of!).
What makes vape liquid toxic?
It is the nicotine in vape liquid that can cause poisoning in pets. The other ingredients are not considered to be a risk in the small quantities present in these products.
What happens when a pet eats vape liquid?
Nicotine is actually not well absorbed from the stomach and this and the fact that bottle sizes are small probably accounts for the fact that there are few serious cases of poisoning recorded.
Many animals will remain well after being exposed, but in cases where animals do develop effects they would be expected to happen quickly, within a few minutes to a few hours. Effects that may occur are drooling or sometimes frothing at the mouth, vomiting or diarrhoea. They may also seem a bit wobbly or trembly and may have a racing heart.
Serious nicotine poisoning is rare in cases of vape liquid exposures but could occur after a large ingestion or after prolonged chewing on a leaking container.
Why would my pet eat vape liquid?
Animals will often explore and pick things up with their mouths and dogs in particular like to chew. Anything with a tough exterior will seem like an amusing chew toy to a curious dog. As the liquid is often quite highly fragranced your pet may smell it much more than you and want to investigate further. Or, as you may well know, anything you drop may be mistaken by an eager pet as a titbit or treat and they go for it in a flash!
What should I do if my pet has eaten vape liquid?
Wash any residue off the skin with soap and water – nicotine is well absorbed across the skin so remember to protect yourself too!
Rinse the mouth out with water (if your pet will let you and you are not at risk of being bitten) to remove any residue as nicotine is better absorbed in the mouth.
If your pet has eaten vape liquid, call Animal PoisonLine and we can assess the risk and advise you whether you need to take your pet to the vets.
When calling APL you will need:
· The number of millilitres of vape liquid you think your pet has eaten
· The strength of the vape liquid
· The weight of your pet
If you are worried your pet has eaten anything they should not have, give Animal PoisonLine a call on 01202 509000 and one of our advisors will be able to assess the risk and advise you whether you need to take your pet to the vet.
Animal PoisonLine’s Top Tips
1. Always ensure you keep vapes and refills out of reach of pets.
2. Clear up any spills promptly.
3. Do not keep e-cigarettes and refills in an open handbag on the floor