If your pet is healthy then there really isn’t much to worry about. Like people, pets have built-in mechanisms to help us filter-out particulate matter from the air. However, you may notice that your pet is lethargic, has watery eyes, and may occasionally cough or sneeze more often. As is recommended for people, avoid strenuous exercise at this time.
If your pet suffers from respiratory, cardiovascular or eye conditions (e.g. dry eye), they are more at-risk of adverse reactions from poor air quality. Look for symptoms such as coughing, increased respiratory rate, difficulty breathing, eye redness, irritation or discharge. Definitely avoid strenuous activity / exercise and also situations that may cause your pet’s respiratory rate to increase (e.g. things that make them anxious).
Finally, if your pet is taking medication for a respiratory illness or an eye condition, ask your Veterinarian if their dosage needs to be adjusted until the air quality improves.
Tips To Help Keep Your Pets Safe During Poor Air Quality Conditions:
- Avoid exercising your pet outside when air quality is poor;
- Make sure they have access to plenty of fresh water;
- Keep all doors and windows closed, allow access to cooler areas of your home and keep fan/AC on;
- Avoid using fans / AC units that draw air in from the outside (most air systems have a ‘re-circulate’ option);
- Consider buying an air filter (not just for your pets, but for you too!);
- If you have an outdoor cat, keep them indoors temporarily until air quality improves; and,
- If you smoke, do not do it near your pet. Under normal circumstances second-hand smoke is bad for animals, it may exacerbate symptoms during this time.
To see what the current and future air quality forecast is in your area, visit the BC Air Quality Health Index.
Dr. Renee Ferguson