As irritating as smoke can be to people, it can cause health problems for animals as well. Smoke from wildfires and other large blazes affects pets. If you can see or feel the effects of smoke yourself, you also should take precautions to keep your pets safe.
Pets with cardiovascular or respiratory disease are especially at risk from smoke and should be closely watched during all periods of poor air quality. Look for the following signs of possible smoke or dust irritation in pets. If any of your pets are experiencing any of these signs, please consult your veterinarian.
- Coughing or gagging
- Difficulty breathing, including open mouth breathing and increased noise when breathing
- Eye irritation and excessive watering
- Inflammation of throat or mouth
- Nasal discharge
- Asthma-like symptoms
- Increased breathing rate
- Fatigue or weakness
- Disorientation or stumbling
- Reduced appetite and/or thirst
Tips to protect pets
- Keep pets indoors as much as possible, and keep your windows shut.
- Let dogs and cats outside only for brief bathroom breaks if air quality alerts are in effect.
- Avoid intense outdoor exercise during periods of poor air quality. Exercise pets when dust and smoke has settled.
- Have a pet evacuation kit ready, and include your animals in your disaster preparedness planning.
Pet evacuation kit
Be prepared for a disaster with a pet evacuation kit. Assemble the kit well in advance of any emergency and store in an easy-to-carry, waterproof container close to an exit.
Food and medicine
- 3-7 days’ worth of dry and canned (pop-top) food*
- Two-week supply of medicine*
- At least 7 days’ supply of water
- Feeding dish and water bowl
- Liquid dish soap
*These items must be rotated and replaced to ensure they don’t expire
First aid kit
- Anti-diarrheal liquid or tablets
- Antibiotic ointment
- Bandage tape and scissors
- Cotton bandage rolls
- Flea and tick prevention (if needed in your area)
- Isopropyl alcohol/alcohol prep pads
- Latex gloves
- Saline solution
- Towel and washcloth
- Litter, litter pan, and scoop (shirt box with plastic bag works well for pan)
- Newspaper, paper towels, and trash bags
- Household chlorine beach or disinfectant
- Identification papers including proof of ownership
- Medical records and medication instructions
- Emergency contact list, including veterinarian and pharmacy
- Photo of your pet (preferably with you)
- Crate or pet carrier labeled with your contact information
- Extra collar/harness with ID tags and leash
- Flashlight, extra batteries
- Favorite toys and treats
- Extra blanket or familiar bedding
After the disaster
- Survey the area inside and outside your home to identify sharp objects, dangerous materials, dangerous wildlife, contaminated water, downed power lines, or other hazards.
- Examine your animals closely, and contact your veterinarian immediately if you observe injuries or signs of illness.
- Familiar scents and landmarks may have changed, and this can confuse your animals.
- Release dogs indoors only. They could encounter dangerous wildlife and debris if allowed outside unsupervised and unrestrained.
- Reintroduce food in small servings, gradually working up to full portions if animals have been without food for a prolonged period of time.
- Allow uninterrupted rest/sleep to allow animals to recover from the trauma and stress.
- The disruption of routine activities can be the biggest cause of stress for your pets, so try to re-establish a normal schedule as quickly as you can.
- Comfort each other. The simple act of petting and snuggling can reduce anxiety for both people and pets.
- If you notice any signs of stress, discomfort, or illness in your pets, contact your veterinarian to schedule a checkup.
If your animals are lost:
- Physically check animal control and animal shelters DAILY for lost animals. Some emergency response agencies may also use social media (Facebook, etc.) to post information about lost and found animals.
- Post waterproof lost animal notices and notify local law enforcement, animal care and control officials, veterinarians, and your neighbors of any lost animals (utilize online resources for lost and found animals).
- If your animal is lost and has a microchip, notify the microchip registry that your animal is missing.
Always remember that any first aid administered to your pet should be followed by immediate veterinary care. First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your pet’s life until it receives veterinary treatment.