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Wildfire Smoke Dangers for Your Pets      

Dr. Al Townshend

If you are feeling the effects of breathing in wildfire smoke, your pets are probably feeling the effects too.

What is Wildfire Smoke?

A lot depends on what’s burning, the temperature, wind, and distance from the fire causing the smoke.

The bulk of the toxins in smoke is contained in tiny particles including volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides.  

What are the Signs My Pet is Experiencing Problems?

When smoke is inhaled, the tiny particulate matter does not break down easily. Over time, these particles can cause severe respiratory inflammation, which can produce significant signs in your pet. Eventually, these particles are passed into the bloodstream and can settle throughout the body, damaging the immune system.  

  • Coughing, gagging, and wheezing.
  • Sneezing.
  • Red or watery eyes and a nasal discharge.
  • Difficulty breathing, including rapid open-mouth breathing and raspy sounds.
  • Reduced appetite.
  • Fatigue, weakness, disorientation.

Pets seeming to be having difficulty should be seen by the veterinarian and possibly moved out of the area.

What Pets are Especially Vulnerable?

  • Puppies and kittens.
  • Senior dogs and cats.
  • Brachycephalic dog breeds (including Pugs, Bulldogs, and Boxers).
  • Short-nosed cat breeds (including Burmese cats, Persians, and Himalayans).
  • Dogs and cats diagnosed with respiratory conditions (including pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, and pulmonary fibrosis).
  • Birds are especially sensitive to air quality.

When it’s Smoky…

  • Keep pets in as much as possible.
  • Limit activity.
  • Out to go to the bathroom and right back inside.
  • Keep house windows and doors closed as much as possible.
  • Keep pets well hydrated.
  • A humidifier can keep moisture in the air, which can soothe the nose, trachea, and lungs.

Being Prepared can Make a Difference

  • Whether you have a central air conditioning system or a room unit, use high-efficiency filters to capture fine particles from smoke.
  • Think about creating a clean room with a portable air cleaner in your house. 
  • Stay updated on weather conditions.
  • Check the air quality index in your area regularly. 
  • Download the National Weather Service app to get alerts on wildfires in your area. 

Keeping pets safe and healthy during adverse conditions like exposure to wildfire smoke is as vital for our pets as for ourselves.

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