With the recent ban on menthol (and other flavoured) cigarettes, there is an anticipated uptake in e-cigarette usage in the UK. Along with their increased popularity, these devices are readily accessible to pets. These battery-powered devices simulate tobacco smoking, and provide users with an endless choice in the strength of nicotine and flavour of their cigarette. E-liquid is a solution of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and/or polyethylene glycol, along with various perfumes and flavourings.
A typical cigarette contains approximately 9-30 mg of nicotine; e-cigarettes and their refills contain high doses of nicotine (up to 36 mg per ml). Severe toxicity is uncommon, but could occur if the dose ingested is large. Many animals remain asymptomatic or develop only mild effects; common signs are vomiting, hypersalivation, diarrhoea and tachycardia. Throat irritation may also occur. In addition to the toxicity of nicotine, the actual e-cigarette casing can result in oral injury when chewed, and can cause gastrointestinal upset with the risk of a foreign body obstruction.
VPIS are available 24/7 to assist with cases involving e-cigarettes and associated products. APL may also act as a valuable triage resource for owners and veterinarians dealing with such cases.