How to Minimize Cat & Dog Smoke Inhalation in Oakland, CA
Breathing wildfire smoke is never good for anyone, and that includes our pets. If you feel and see the effects of the smoke yourself, you can bet that your pets do, too. Just as in humans, pets with cardiovascular and respiratory conditions are at a higher risk of being severely affected by smoke inhalation. Senior pets, too, can be especially at risk. Preventing cat and dog smoke inhalation is simply not as easy as strapping an N-95 mask on like it is for you! To help minimize their exposure, we’ve come up with some helpful tips. If you have any questions, call Broadway Pet Hospital at (510) 653–0212.
Use High-Efficiency Filters in Your Home
Make sure your air conditioning unit (whether central or a room unit) has high-efficiency filters. Wildfire smoke carries very fine particles that can cause irritation and inflammation, so filtering out as much of it as you can is essential. Always keep your windows and doors closed as well during a wildfire and whenever smoke is present.
Keep Pets Indoors
Try to keep your pets indoors as much as possible when smoke is present. If your pet is outdoors, bring them inside to a well-ventilated part of the house such as a utility room, or bathroom. Make sure they can’t get into any potentially dangerous products like pesticides, cleaning products, or fertilizers!
Try to Keep Indoor Air as Clean as Possible
While a high-efficiency filter will help to clean the air that comes into your home from the outdoors, it’s equally important to keep the air inside your home clean! Do not fry or broil foods, burn candles, use a fireplace or wood stove, or smoke tobacco products. Vacuuming should be avoided as well as it can throw up particles into the air. We also recommend using an air purifier on heavy smoke days.
Limit Time Outdoors
Spend less time outdoors when its smoky, and limit your pet’s physical activity. If you need to let your dog out for a bathroom break, keep them on a leash to make sure they don’t run around, and once they finish, bring them back inside.
Be Prepared to Evacuate
You likely have an evacuation plan for your human family, so don’t forget to include your pets! Make sure your pet has identification on them at all times, including a collar with ID and rabies tags. A microchip is an even surer bet that your pet will be returned to you should they get lost, as it is a permanent form of ID that cannot be damaged or removed. If your pet doesn’t have a microchip, ask your veterinarian at your next appointment. Administering one is as easy as a vaccinations.
Some other tips for working your pet into the evacuation plan include:
Knowing where your pet will be allowed to stay
Many emergency shelters will not allow pets for sanitary reasons, so have an alternate plan for where you can leave them.
Be aware of your pet’s favorite hiding places
When cats and dogs sense fire, they instinctively will try to hide from it. If you need to make a quick getaway, this can be difficult if you can’t find your pet! Get familiar with all their hiding spots so you can find them quickly.
Get your pet used to their carrier
If you have a nervous pet who likes to hide, it may be helpful to keep them in their carrier during the night to sleep. Not all pets will tolerate this though, so don’t push it if they are stressed. If your dog is well crate-trained though, this shouldn’t be too hard of a transition.
Keep a copy of your pet’s medical records and vaccinations
Should you need to take your pet to a boarding facility on your evacuation route, they’ll likely require your pet’s medical history before intake.
Other items to keep in your pet’s evacuation kit
Food and water for about 3 days or more; any medication your pet is on; puppy pads or a portable litter box; a leash; and a toy or two for comfort.
Signs of Smoke Inhalation in Dogs & Cats
Even if you take all the precautions necessary to avoid cat and dog smoke inhalation, sometimes it’s unavoidable. If you notice any of these signs during or after a wildfire event, contact your veterinarian to make an appointment.
- Coughing or gagging
- Open-mouth breathing and/or increased noise when breathing (signals difficulty breathing)
- Excess eye-watering and irritation
- Inflammation of the throat and/or mouth
- Nasal discharge
- Asthma-like symptoms (struggling to breathe, gasping for breath)
- Increased breathing rate
- Fatigue or weakness
- Disorientation or stumbling
- Reduced appetite and/or thirst
If you have any questions or concerns about cat and dog smoke inhalation and what you can do to prevent it, please contact us at (510) 653–0212. We’ll be happy to help in any way we can.