Written by Tyler Gonzalez, Oncology Department Liaison, Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital
As winter approaches many of us will start using fireplaces and bonfires to warm our homes and enjoy the outdoors in low temperatures, but how is the smoke affecting our four-legged friends? In the states where wildfires are an issue, it’s even more important than ever to be aware and on the lookout for smoke-inhalation symptoms that could have lasting effects on our pets.
Many states from Texas to Colorado and up the west coast are facing record-breaking wildfires disrupting daily lives and affecting the health of our pets.
When in an area that is affected by wildfires or that has smoke present make sure to keep an eye out for any of the following symptoms.
- Eye irritation
- Respiratory issues or trouble breathing
- Lethargy or reduced appetite/thirst
Smoke from these wildfires can travel thousands of miles and can be noticed in air quality or by checking https://www.airnow.gov/fires/ “Fire and Smoke Maps”
Precautions can be taken to help our pets from the wildfire smoke by limiting exposure to the smoke.
Fire Places Indoors and Bonfires Outdoors
Many homes use fireplaces for heating during cold months and bonfires at night to enjoy marshmallows under the stars.
These types of heat sources come with by-products such as smoke, popping embers and ash.
These by-products can affect your pet’s:
- Respiratory tract
When it comes to protecting our pets it is important to know how these elements in and out of the home can affect them. Below you will find our Specialists recommendations to keep your pet safe, prevent possible illnesses related to smoke and fires, and when to reach out to your veterinarian.
Wheat Ridge Doctor Insights
Lori Wise, DVM, MS, DACVIM, Veterinary Internist recommends “parents with pets who have pre-existing respiratory issues such as asthma should watch for coughing, labored breathing, noisier breathing when sleeping, and relaxing around the house”.
These symptoms can point to smoke-related health concerns because toxins can be released when burning wood and other material.
Trish Gearheart, Ph.D., DVM, DACVO, Veterinary Ophthalmologist recommends “watching for squinting, discharge, and redness of the eyes. These conditions, if persistent over an extended period of time, should be seen by your veterinarian or an ophthalmologist to prevent long term damage”
On rare occasions where ash has entered your pet’s eye, you should have your pet seen right away and follow your veterinarian’s guide to safely flush out the debris.
Darin Dell, DVM, DACVD, Associate Medical Director, Veterinary Dermatologist recommends “owners with breeds of animals more prone to skin conditions such as dryness and itching stay diligent when their pets are exposed to smoke.”
If your pet is itching or has dry skin that is a new or pre-existing condition look into a dermatologist near you or visit your normal veterinarian to discuss options to prevent skin irritation moving forward.
Stay safe and keep your four-legged friends feeling their best!