Electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) are toxic to dogs and cats. Beside the danger of the e-cig causing an obstruction or perforation, the liquid inside can be fatal. E-juice or e-liquid contains propylene glycol, nicotine, flavorings and either vegetable glycerin or polyethylene glycol. Propylene glycol and glycerin are usually not toxic at the low levels contained in e-cigs although it is unknown if chronic exposure may be hazardous. The bigger concern is the nicotine. As little as 20 mg can kill a small dog or cat. The concentration of nicotine contained in each e-cig varies dramatically between brands.
Clinical signs of nicotine toxicity depend upon how much nicotine the pet consumed. With ingestion of small amounts, the dogs and cats will experience vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, restlessness and panting. Ingestion of moderate amounts causes increased blood pressure and heart rate. The pets may also twitch or seizure. Pets who consumed large amounts often progress to paralysis, abnormal heart rhythms, coma and death. Nicotine is absorbed rapidly through the mucous membranes making it difficult to decontaminate the pet. Inducing vomiting to get rid of the nicotine or giving charcoal to absorb is often too late to help. Unfortunately, many dogs and cats will die even with aggressive therapy.
If you think your pet may have eaten or chewed on an e-cig or worse yet, a bottle of the e-juice, please seek emergency veterinary care immediately. Bring the e-cig and/or e-juice bottle as well. This will allow the veterinarian to determine the amount of nicotine ingested and the level of toxicity.
-Gwaltney-Brant, Sharon. ‘Electronic Cigarettes are Toxic to Pets’ Veterinary Partner, VIN.com.