According to the Pet Poison Helpline, nicotine poisonings tied to electronic cigarettes are on the rise for pets. What makes these cigarettes attractive to pets are the wide array of scents and flavors, according to experts, who say when pets smell the aromas, they want to ingest them.

“We have handled cases for dogs and cats poisoned by eating traditional cigarettes or tobacco products containing nicotine for many years,” says Ahna Brutlag, DVM, DABT, DABVT and associate director of veterinary services at Pet Poison Helpline. “As the use of e-cigarettes has become more widespread, our call volume for cases involving them has increased considerably.”

The issue is the amount of nicotine in each cartridge, which can be between 6 mg and 24 mg. “Each cartridge contains the nicotine equivalent of one to two traditional cigarettes,” she says. “Many people don’t stop at two, so nicotine poisoning in pets has a rapid onset of symptoms — generally within fifteen to sixty minutes following ingestion.

“Symptoms for dogs and cats include vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, elevations in heart rate and respiration rate, depression, tremors, ataxia, weakness, seizures, cyanosis, coma, and cardiac arrest.”