Wildfire Smoke: How to Protect your Pet 

Air pollution becomes a serious concern for humans and animals


A reddish fog-like haze descended upon the East Coast of the United States in early June, as wind patterns blew smoke from hundreds of wildfires in Canada. Authorities warned of plummeting air quality and the increase in hazardous gaseous and particulate pollutants carried by this kind of dangerous smoke.

While nothing new for the West Coast, wildfire smoke at this magnitude rarely travels across the East and Mid-Atlantic. New York City was one of the hardest hit, where pollutants measured four times greater than established “healthy” levels.

Smoke does not just affect humans. Our pets are also at risk as they share the same air we breathe. And while we cannot go without breathing, we can take precautionary steps to help protect our pets.

The advice is not all that dissimilar from humans: Animals with weakened immune systems, cardiovascular or respiratory disease, the young and the old, are especially at risk. If your pet suffers from any of associated symptoms (coughing, difficulty breathing, eye irritation, discharge, lethargy, weakness, lack of coordination, immobility, loss of appetite, and/or abnormal behavior during these smoke occurrences, contact a veterinarian immediately.

Tips to protect pets

  • As is suggested for humans, keep your pet indoors as much as possible and close windows.
  • Keep necessary outdoor exposure to a minimum and avoid intense or rigorous exercise
  • Keep necessary outdoor activities to early in the morning or in the evenings to avoid the heat of the day (which may exacerbate respiratory irritation)
  •  Keep pets indoors as much as possible, and keep your windows shut.
  • As recommended from emergency authorities, along with your “go-bag,” have a pet evacuation kit prepared.

Use these tools and knowledge to stay informed and prepared. You have the power to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. While we may experience the dangers of wildfire smoke again in the future, remember that these conditions are temporary and clear skies will follow.

Share now!