This summer has been one of the worst on record for wildfires burning near Fort Collins and all throughout Colorado. As of today, the Cameron Peak Fire that has been burning since early August to the west of town has scorched more than 131,000 acres — and is showing no signs of slowing down. Between the constant smoke lingering in the air and the falling ash, these last few months have been incredibly difficult in terms of breathing and respiratory health, not only for us humans, but also for our beloved pets.

How to Protect Your Pets From Wildfire Smoke

As the fires continue raging this fall, it is essential that we pet parents stay vigilant and proactive in doing our part to protect our furry best friends from the dangers of breathing such poor quality air. While it is pretty much impossible to completely avoid breathing the smoke-and-ash-filled air, here are a few tips you can follow to help protect your pet’s respiratory health and overall wellness during wildfire season.

Keep Pets Indoors

As hard as it is to do, it’s best to keep both dogs and cats indoors when it’s smokey outside. Check local air quality reports daily to see how good or bad the predictions are to help you determine the best times to let your pets outside. While some days haven’t been nearly as smokey, they seem to be few and far between. It’s especially important to keep your pets indoors on days where you can actually see the smoke looming over your neighborhood, or on the really bad days when it’s raining ash. Be especially cautious if your pet has allergies or existing respiratory issues that could be aggravated by the poor outdoor air quality.

Limit Time Spent Outdoors

Play and exercise are important for your pets, so try to plan outdoor activities on days with better air quality ratings. That being said, even on the good days it can still be quite smokey, so try to keep your walks short and avoid longer outdoor activities such as hiking. Additionally, keep their potty breaks outside short on days when there is heavy smoke and ash in the air. Come up with games you can safely play indoors to help them get some exercise on the days when it’s too bad to go on walks or play in the yard. You can even look for indoor dog parks or agility courses in the area where your canine companion can run, play, and socialize. Just don’t forget your mask! 

Run Your Air Conditioner

If you’ve changed the filter in your AC unit recently, you were probably shocked to see how much ash and soot your filter collected. This is good news, however, because running your air conditioner rather than keeping your windows open for fresh, cool air can filter the air coming into your home. Your AC filter can catch a lot of ash and other air pollutants that could irritate your pet’s allergies or existing respiratory issues.

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Keep Them Hydrated

Make sure your pet has constant access to clean water so they stay hydrated. Drinking water can help flush any microparticles or ash inhaled through the mouth and throat. What’s more, good hydration can help reduce inflammation in the mouth or throat caused by breathing in polluted air.

Know Who’s At High Risk

Pets who have asthma, and those with respiratory or cardiovascular issues, are at a higher risk of developing symptoms of breathing smokey air that could be harmful to their health. Pets who are highly susceptible include:

  • Any dog or cat with asthma, bronchitis, or respiratory issues
  • Brachycephalic dogs like Boston terriers, French bulldogs, bulldogs, and pugs
  • Puppies and kittens
  • Senior pets

Look Out For These Signs and Symptoms

Familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms that could warrant a trip to see your vet. Common symptoms caused by poor air quality include:

  • Difficulty breathing or asthma-like symptoms
  • Persistent wheezing
  • Unusual or excessive sneezing, coughing, gagging, or vomiting
  • Redness, swelling, and inflammation of the eyes, mouth, skin, or upper airway
  • Eye irritation or watery eyes
  • Nasal congestion or discharge
  • Loss of appetite or reduced thirst
  • Fatigue, weakness, or lethargy
  • Increased or excessive drooling
  • Excessive panting or open-mouthed breathing (especially in cats)
  • Unusual behavior, poor coordination, or inability to stand
  • Disorientation, stumbling, or clumsiness

Contact Your Trusted Fort Collins Veterinarians

If your pet is showing signs and symptoms of respiratory issues, they appear to be in distress, or you have questions or concerns about their health, please get in touch with your veterinarian in Fort Collins immediately. We specialize in a number of veterinary services and treatments to help your pet feel better so they can live their best life possible. Contact your friends at Countryside Animal Hospital today to arrange your pet’s appointment.