Keeping Pets Safe in Wildfire Smoke

Calgary is filling with thick smoke from the forest fires. It is devastating communities and our thoughts are with everyone affected. The skies are filled with smoke and along with concerns for the impact on the people, many are concerned for their pets and wondering how to keep them safe. There are steps you can take to minimize the impact of the smoke on your pets along with ensuring they are remaining active and still receiving their exercise.

The greatest concern with the wildfire smoke for all beings is the fine particles that we breathe into our lungs. These can cause a variety of health concerns including breathing issues, burning eyes, a sore throat and congestion. This can be especially damaging to those with respiratory illnesses, brachycephalic dogs like pugs or bulldogs, puppies and senior dogs. There are many ways to keep your pets safe:

  • keep your pets indoors
  • limit their time outside to short potty breaks
  • keep windows and doors closed
  • do not do any extraneous exercise outside, including visits to the off-leash park, games of fetch or running
  • ensure they have access to fresh water and are staying well-hydrated

One of the biggest concerns we hear during these times from dog owners are how to keep their pets exercised. The goal is to limit outdoor exercise, but there are a variety of ways you can ensure your dog’s physical and mental stimulation needs are still being met:

By taking the above precautions, you can keep your pet safe, but depending on their health hand the length of time the air quality is poor, they may be affected. It is important to understand the signs of respiratory distress and be sure you get your dog to the vet if you see any of the following:

  • difficulty breathing
  • redness or swelling around their eyes, mouth or any skin irritation
  • excessive coughing, sneezing, coughing or vomiting
  • weakness/lethargy
  • loss of appetite
  • difficulty walking or unable to stand
  • confusion
  • increased salivation
  • open-mouthed breathing (especially cats)
  • disorientation
  • fainting
  • seizures

Take advantage of this time for some extra cuddling indoors with your dog. Practice some training and work on some handling exercises or teach them new tricks! Enjoy your time together indoors. If you are at risk of evacuation, please refer to our post on Preparing for an Emergency.

Please keep your pets safe and let us know how we can help. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the current fire situation in Alberta and we hope everyone and their animals stay safe.