Forest fires and your pet

Given the hot, dry summer we are having in BC, it seemed inevitable that forest fires would eventually affect the beautiful Kootenay Boundary region.  Seemingly overnight, we have become surrounded by fires with dense smoke hanging in the air, affecting us as well as our pets.  While we all know about the concerns surrounding air quality, the question for many of us is "should I be worried about my pets?". 

For healthy pets, you really do not need to worry.  Just like us, pets have mechanisms in place for filtering particulate matter from the air and flushing irritants from their eyes.  Pets with a healthy immune systems will be able to compensate for the poor air quality.  Use common sense and avoid strenuous exercise with your pet when the air quality is bad, keep them indoors and be sure to offer a cool environment with easy access to fresh water.

If your pet suffers from respiratory, cardiovascular disease or eye conditions like dry eye, they may be more likely to show adverse effects from the poor air quality.  Monitor your pet closely for symptoms like coughing, increased respiratory rate, difficulty breathing, eye redness, irritation or discharge.  Keep their activity level low and avoid stressful situations that may increase excitement and demand for oxygen.  If your pet is on medication for asthma, bronchitis or an eye condition, talk to your veterinarian about adjustments in their dosage until the air quality improves.

Finally consider having a kit ready for your pet should you have to evacuate your home.  Pack a travel bag with the following items: your vets phone number, any prescription medications your pet requires,   food, treats, a special toy and a copy of their vaccine certificate in case they need to be taken to a boarding kennel.

While the number of fires surrounding our West Kootenay home is concerning, thinking ahead and being prepared can help prevent problems before they develop.  A big thank you to all the fire fighters working so hard to keep our communities, and the animals in them, safe!