Dog safety during poor air quality alerts or wildfire smoke

When there is an alert for poor air quality, such as from wildfire smoke, the pollution concentrations and particulate matter in the air can reach hazardous levels that are unhealthy for the general population, including our pets.

How might poor air quality or wildfire smoke impact my dog's health?

The risks of poor air quality to pets are similar to those of people, which mainly impact the heart and lungs. While people can wear masks outdoors, which may minimize inhalation of small particulate matter, unfortunately, our pets cannot, which may put them at a greater risk.

Are certain dogs more at risk than others?

Brachycephalic (short-muzzle breeds) such as Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pugs, and geriatric or pediatric animals are more susceptible to poor air quality. Additionally, dogs with pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, asthma, or other conditions affecting the heart and lungs are at an increased risk.

What symptoms should I look for?

The most common signs of exposure may irritate the throat, nose, and eyes, making them red or watery. It can also cause coughing, gagging, a fast respiratory rate even when they are at rest, or difficulty breathing. Contact your veterinarian if you have concerns about your pet's exposure risk or symptoms.

How should I minimize my dog’s exposure to poor air quality?

When the air quality is poor, the best way to protect your pet is to limit their exposure by staying indoors, keeping windows and doors closed and limiting outdoor time to only bathroom breaks. It is best to avoid exercise like running or hiking until the air quality has improved. Consider using air purifiers or filters indoors.

How can I keep my dog entertained while staying indoors?

It may be temporarily challenging for active dogs that rely on significant physical activity for their behavioral health. Introducing more indoor enrichment activities, like long-lasting treats or puzzle feeders that are appropriate for your dog to eat and play with, may be beneficial to prevent boredom or other unwanted behaviors.