The importance of safe air quality is on everyone’s minds with the most recent wildfires in California causing record-breaking devastation.
Our pet’s safety is a top concern. Similarly, air quality and smoke inhalation have reached alarming and hazardous levels across the United States and Canada. In response to this need, we wanted to provide a resource for your pet’s safety.
We sat down with Dr. Erin Siek, from the VCA Animal Wellness Center of Marin to learn more about the effects of smoke inhalation on our pets and the best course of action for treatment.
Pet safety, air quality, and the hazardous effects of smoke inhalation
How does the air quality affect our pets?
The quality of the air we breathe affects our daily lives. “Pets can experience many of the same health problems that humans can after prolonged exposure to smoke and poor air quality. Just like humans, pets breathing in polluted air and smoke can develop clinical signs such as coughing and suffer from long-term damage to their respiratory tract,” states Dr. Erin Siek. As a result, the importance of safe air for our pets is imperative.
Common signs and symptoms of smoke inhalation
Many wonder what signs to look for if their pet is exposed to smoke or other air pollutants. “Common signs of smoke inhalation can include difficulty breathing, coughing, increased respiratory rate, open mouth breathing (in cats), weakness, disorientation, eye redness/irritation, and loss of appetite,” points out Dr. Siek. If your pet is experiencing any abnormal behavior or any potential signs of exposure, please seek care with your veterinarian.
What are the damaging effects of smoke inhalation?
The effects of smoke inhalation can lead to additional issues down the road. “Smoke inhalation can have damaging effects not only on the lungs. Irritation to the eyes and nasal cavity can lead to redness, discharge, and swelling. In extreme cases, smoke inhalation can cause neurological side effects including disorientation, difficulty walking, and seizures. The length of exposure does correlate with severity of the side effects which is why limiting your pets outdoor activity is so important, ” cites Dr. Siek.
Sensitive pets and the measures to ensure proper care
Smoke Inhalation should be taken seriously. If your pet is experiencing any signs of smoke inhalation, seek veterinary care immediately. Also, pets with sensitivity, such as Asthma or any underlying respiratory issues, should be monitored and kept inside.
“All pets are at risk for respiratory issues, however certain age groups such as puppies/kittens, and geriatric pets are at a heightened risk. Pets with pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma or bronchitis, or cardiovascular disease can also be more sensitive to the effects of smoke inhalation. If there are any signs of respiratory difficulty, coughing, weakness, or open-mouth breathing, seek veterinary care immediately,” says Dr. Siek.
The best course of action is to – “Limit outdoor exposure, shorten pet’s walks, and avoid prolonged exercise or going to the dog park,” cites Dr. Siek.
“At our practice, we have had an influx of phone calls from pet owners asking how to help protect their pet from the smoke and diminished air quality. We are advising people that the best course of action is to stay indoors and monitor for symptoms. The best way to help your pet if they are experiencing any signs/symptoms of smoke inhalation is to stay calm and seek veterinary treatment. We know a sick pet can be very stressful, seeking veterinary care is the first step.”
If you are currently being impacted by the wildfires, we are here for you and your pets. We have customer care professionals available 24/7 to provide immediate assistance and to answer any questions you have. Don’t hesitate to call our team members if any assistance is needed at 855-210-8746.