As wildfires continue across Canada, thick clouds of smoke continue to fill the air all around Michigan.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways for people to stay safe from smoke inhalation such as limiting strenuous activities, wearing a mask, and staying indoors.
But, what about all the adorable, four-legged furry friends out there? The tiny, dangerous particles filling the hazy skies can also cause serious issues for pets. Here’s what to know and how to keep your pets safe.
Michigan’s bad air quality:Everything you need to know
How to say poor air quality impact animals?
Lori Teller, President of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), said wildfire smoke can cause a range of issues from heavy breathing to wheezing to irritation.
“The air quality can affect all of our pets making it more difficult to breathe and causing significant irritation to the eyes, nose and upper airways,” Teller said. “It can cause coughing, watery discharge in the eyes, discharge from the nose.”
The teller also said pets with pre-existing health conditions are at higher risk and could have more significant symptoms.
“Our animals who may have other chronic diseases such as heart disease, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, it (poor air quality) can really exacerbate those diseases to the point where some animals may even need to get oxygen therapy,” she said.
How can pet owners best protect their animals?
The best way to protect your pets from the wildfire smoke is to keep them indoors, Teller said.
“The most important thing that people can do is keep their pets inside with the windows closed so that they breathe filtered air through air conditioning,” she said. “If your pet may need to go outside, limit the amount of time that they’re out there to go to the bathroom and then bring them back inside.”
How can you keep your pets entertained indoors?
Teller said the biggest challenge was finding creative ways to keep your pets entertained inside, but there are plenty of solutions for both cats and dogs.
“With both dogs and cats, instead of feeding them in their regular bowls, you can use puzzle bowls and puzzle toys and that will occupy them for a much longer period of time to get their food or treats out,” she said.
For cats, Teller recommends feather toys and laser pointers for indoor use. She also said there are ways to accommodate both small and large dogs.
“Of course, if they are smaller dogs you can run around the house with them, maybe go up and down stairs, play a game of fetch down the hallway. With bigger dogs, you can set up a maze with couch cushions and pillows and have your dog go back and forth through the maze,” she said. “Some dogs will chase a laser pointer as well, so that’s something else that you can do with them too.”
more:With bad air quality, metro Detroit summer school programs limit outdoor time
What should pet owners do if their animal is experiencing symptoms?
For mild symptoms such as irritation of the eyes or nose, pet owners can be prepared with appropriate medications, plenty of water, etc.
“If they have simple runny eyes or things like that, you can certainly flush their eyes with some saline, make sure they have fresh water available,” she said. “If it can’t be controlled with basic first aid then you definitely need to seek veterinary care.”
The teller said there are severe symptoms to look out for such as disorientation, excessive coughing and wheezing, and bluish-colored gums.
“If it gets worse, your pet’s gum colors may change, they may go from a healthy pink to bluish. If they are coughing excessively or even get to the point where they are wobbly or disoriented or even collapse, you need to seek immediate veterinary care,” she said. “Call your veterinarian, and let them know you are on your way but that is yours. pet is suffering from breathing in the poor air, and once your pet gets there your veterinarian will do an assessment and determine the appropriate treatment.”
Teller said some treatments for severe symptoms include IV fluids and medications to decrease inflammation.