Air Pollution from Wildfires Impacts Pets Too

Safety tips from the Kentucky Humane Society

Poor air quality in the Louisville area impacts not only people, it can also impact animals, including cats, dogs and horses. If you experience the effects of smoke from the Canadian wildfires, you should assume your companion animal is uncomfortable too and take precautions to keep them safe.

Animals with heart or lung disease are particularly at risk, as well as puppies and kittens, older cats and dogs, and breeds with “smushed” faces, such as Boston terriers, pugs, bulldogs, and Persian cats. Horses are also at risk because of their deep lung capacities.

Safety Tips

The Kentucky Humane Society provides the following recommendations to keep dogs, cats and horses healthy:

  • Keep cats and dogs indoors as much as possible
  • Avoid exercising dogs or riding/exercising horses outdoors when air quality indexes are unhealthy
  • Smoke is usually less intense very early in the morning and late at night, so try to walk dogs during these times; otherwise, let dogs outdoor for short bathroom breaks
  • Refresh animals’ water frequently – especially for outdoor animals where water can become contaminated by smoke particles – and ensure animals are well hydrated
  • If you have a puppy you are potty training, consider using indoor potty pads until the air quality improves
  • To keep dogs and cats occupied indoors, provide food puzzles, games, long-lasting chews, and training exercises, and increase your indoor playtime with them
  • Feed horses low-dust or dust-free feeds and sprinkle or mist barns to limit dust exposure

When to Seek Veterinary Care

Animals suffering from poor air quality may exhibit coughing or gagging, respiratory distress, fatigue, eye irritation, nasal discharge, disorientation, and reduced appetite or thirst. If your animals are experiencing these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

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