Wildfire smoke is just as bad for dogs, cats, and other companion animals as it is for humans. These five tips will help you keep your two- and four-legged family members safe from the smoke during wildfire season.
Wildfires are, unfortunately, a fact of life, and they’re getting bigger, more intense, and more severe each year. That means wildfire smoke is something we’re going to be dealing with more regularly, so it’s a good idea to learn how to protect yourself and your four-legged family members from smoke. Brian C. Hurley, DVM, the national medical director with AmeriVet Veterinary Partners, has five tips to help pet parents safeguard their fur babies from wildfire smoke.
1. Close the Windows
As much as we love a fresh breeze blowing through the house in the summer, keeping the windows closed will help keep wildfire smoke out of your house. It’s also a good idea to seal cracks around windows and doorframes where smoke can seep into the house.
2. Keep Outdoor Time to a Minimum
Animals and humans love spending time outdoors in the summer, but when the air quality is poor, it’s best to stay inside. Instead, opt for short walks and pee breaks and avoid strenuous exercise outdoors. When you come back inside, remove pollution from your dog’s or cat’s fur with a pet-friendly wipe or damp cloth.
3. Don’t Pollute the Air Inside Your House
There are lots of things we do that negatively impact indoor air quality, and it’s best to avoid these things when there’s wildfire smoke. Some examples include:
Using gas-powered appliances
A whole-home air filtration system or room air filters can help protect your family from wildfire smoke and other pollutants. You’ll want a HEPA filter that can trap fine particles.
4. Provide Plenty of Fresh Water
Wildfire smoke contains water vapor, particles, gases, and pollutants like volatile organic compounds, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide. The fine particles are particularly dangerous because they get into your bloodstream and deep into the lungs. Drinking lots of water can help flush the particles out of your system, and the same is true for dogs and cats. Make sure your fur babies always have access to fresh water.
5. Watch for Symptoms of Smoke Inhalation
Exposure to wildfire smoke can irritate the eyes and the respiratory system. Contact your veterinarian if your animal companion shows any of these symptoms:
Increased respiratory rate
Coughing or asthma-like symptoms
Discharge from the nose
Red, watery eyes
Fatigue or disorientation
Loss of appetite or thirst
And remember: seniors and animals with heart/respiratory problems are particularly at risk, so take even more precautions to keep these companion animals safe during wildfire season.
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