Dogs & Wildfires

The entire West Coast is burning. Thousands of people have lost their homes and have had to evacuate. Areas not on fire are consumed by thick smoke. Oregon is under a state of emergency. Air quality in Central Oregon is horrendous and people have been advised to stay indoors. But what do the fires and smoke mean for your Adventure loving Pup?! And what about all your other pets and livestock that have to stay outdoors?!

photo credit: Noah Berger, Associated Press

As unhealthy as smoke can be to humans, it can also cause serious health problems for nonhuman animals. Smoke from wildfires affects pets, horses, livestock and wildlife. If you can see or feel the effects of smoke yourself, you should take precautions to keep your pets and livestock safe.

Look for the following signs of possible smoke irritation. If any of your animals are experiencing any of these signs, please consult your veterinarian:

  • Coughing/gagging
  • Difficulty breathing; panting, wheezing, gasping
  • Eye irritation
  • Excessively drinking water
  • Reduced appetite and/or thirst
  • Inflammation of throat or mouth
  • Nasal discharge
  • Fatigue/weakness/lethargy
  • Disorientation or stumbling

Tips to protect pets & livestock

  • Keep pets indoors as much as possible, and keep your windows shut.
  • Birds are particularly susceptible and should not be allowed outside when smoke is present
  • Brief outdoor bathroom breaks
  • Avoid outdoor exercise during periods of poor air quality.
  • Have a pet evacuation kit ready, include your animals in your disaster preparedness planning. (see below for kit info)
  • Limit exercise when smoke is visible. Don’t require animals to perform activities that cause labored breathing.
  • Provide plenty of fresh water near feeding areas.
  • Limit dust exposure by feeding low-dust or dust-free feeds and misting the livestock area.
  • Have a livestock evacuation plan ready in advance. Coordinate with neighbors/friends if you don’t have enough trailers.
  • Remove dead trees, clear away brush, and maintain a defensible space around livestock structures.
  • Give livestock 4-6 weeks to recuperate after the air quality returns to normal. Attempting to handle, move, or transport livestock may delay healing.

The fires have been spreading quickly and many people are awaiting evacuation orders. If you have not prepared for emergency evacuation, and are looking for some guidance on how to do so, The American Veterinary Medical Association has everything laid out in a downloadable booklet entitled “Saving the Whole Family”.

If you and your Pup don’t have the option to stay indoors, there are air filtering masks for dogs that can help them breathe and stay healthy.

2020 has been challenging… but we can make it through! Be prepared, be thoughtful, and be safe!

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