Caring for Your Pets.
Noted below are some recommendations for caring your house pets during smoke-related emergency situations. It was shared by Tustin Veterinary Medical Director, Dr. Kristen Negvesky and endorsed by UC Davis School of Medicine, CA Veterinary Emergency Team and a Professor from their Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care Team.
- Keep pets indoors as much as possible. For dogs, consider using potty pads or commercial grass patches indoors rather than taking them out for urination/defecation. Run air filters in the home, ideally HEPA filters, to reduce the size of particulate matter in your home's air. This may make the air drier, so ensure your pets always have plenty of fresh water available and encourage them to drink water frequently.
- If you must walk your dog outside, keep it as brief as possible and avoid any exertion as this will increase your dog’s respiratory rate and cause more inhalation of potentially dangerous air particles. Prevent your dog from eating anything while outside, sniffing the grass/ground or putting their nose into bushes, or rolling in the grass. Wipe their feet after coming inside using pet wipes.
- Wipe pets’ bodies/feet at least 1-2 times daily with pet wipes to get rid of any debris or particulate matter that may be in your home; this will also help to prevent ingestion of potentially harmful particles when pets lick themselves.
- Pets with environmental allergies should be given extra consideration when there are any issues with air quality, or rains/winds (as we’ve experienced recently) that put more particulate matter into the air or move it around. Talk with your veterinarian about using medicated shampoos/mousse and medical-strength Omega-3 fatty acids to strengthen the skin barrier to allergens and prevent/reduce them from seeping through the skin and causing itchiness. Stay up to date on any allergy treatments your veterinarian has prescribed, such as allergy injections or oral allergy medications.
- Monitor your pets for any respiratory issues, such as trouble breathing, abnormally increased respiratory rate or depth, or shortness of breath. Monitor for healthy pink tongue and gum color; contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice abnormal coloration such as pale, blue or gray/muddy gums/tongue, which indicate poor oxygen perfusion in the bloodstream. If your pet has an existing respiratory or heart condition, also monitor episodes of extreme lethargy, collapse, or excessive coughing.
If you are concerned about anything regarding your pet, please contact your veterinarian. Additional information regarding large animals when exposed by wildfires: https://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/news/guidelines-horses-exposed-wildfire-smoke. Follow air quality index link for information in your area/zip code: https://www.airnow.gov/.