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    Wildfire smoke affect on dogs needing air pollution filter mask

    Protecting Dogs From Smoke Inhalation

    Smoke inhalation is not only dangerous for people - it can also have very serious consequences for dogs. Across parts of California including areas not in the path of the wild fires, air quality is being ranked as some of the worst in the world. As firefighters battle the wild fires animal welfare groups are working around the clock to rescue dogs. 

    Smoke Inhalation in Dogs

    Dr. Tina Wismer the Medical Director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center explains that, “With smoke inhalation, the amount of smoke a dog is exposed to will affect the symptoms. Animals that are caught in a fire can have difficulty breathing, inflammation and burns in the airways, and weakness. In some cases, dogs may initially appear normal and then develop a buildup of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) up to 24 hours later.”

    Dogs in wildfire smoke poor air qualityShe further explains that dogs living near wildfires and breathing smoke may also experience eye irritation. Your dog may experience watery or red eyes, coughing, runny noses and panting if exposed to wildfire smoke. Dr. Heather B. Loenser, DVM Senior Veterinary Officer of the American Animal Hospital Association, also encourages dog guardians in smoke impacted areas to be on the lookout for the following symptoms:

    • Rapid respiratory rate (breathing more than 20-30 breaths per minute a rest)
    • Coughing; strained or noisy breathing
    • Bright red gums
    • Lethargy, seizures.

    Impact of Long-Term Smoke Inhalation in Dogs

    Although some symptoms of smoke inhalation are visible right away, dogs who have been exposed to smoke may get sick some time after the exposure. Jordan Holliday from Embrace Pet Insurance explains that, “once your pet has been rescued from a fire, he or she may appear pretty normal. Unfortunately, initial appearances can be deceiving. Even if your dogs didn’t come into contact with fire and get burned, they may have severe internal issues that need to be addressed.”

    Holliday cautions, “The most common cause of fire-related deaths in pets is not skin damage from burns, but organ damage from carbon monoxide toxicity. During a fire, carbon monoxide replaces the oxygen in the air. When a pet breathes carbon monoxide instead of oxygen, his organs will not be able to function correctly.” This is why it’s so important any dogs being rescued from wild fire impacted areas are seen by veterinarians.

    How To Minimize the Risk: Smoke Exposure for Dogs

    The most important thing you can do if your dog has been exposed to smoke is to get them out of the situation as soon as possible. If your dog has any of the above symptoms of smoke toxicity, Dr. Loenser advises you to get your dog seen by a veterinarian to receive oxygen therapy. Dr. Loesner explains that veterinary hospitals have oxygen cages that allow (all but the largest) dogs to rest in an oxygen-rich environment.

    Dogs need air pollution filter masks for wildfire smokeGiant dogs that are too large for the oxygen cages can be provided oxygen therapy through a nasal cannula with allows oxygen to flow into a dog’s nose. “Treating a dog with oxygen is one of my favorite treatments because I love seeing the look of relief when they realize they can breathe easier,” says Dr. Loesner. Here is a video example of a dog receiving oxygen therapy from the Castlegar Fire Department in British Columbia, Canada. animal medical center ny oxygen therapy. Dogs being rescued by first responders are increasingly being treated with oxygen therapy on the scene, but Dr. Loenser advises that any dogs rescued from wildfires or any other fire should be directed to a veterinarian within an hour of being rescued.

    Caring For Dogs in Poor Air Quality Conditions

    If you are living in an area where air quality conditions are poor, the best thing you can do is to keep your dog inside as much as possible. Limiting the length and frequency of walks and staying out of outdoor spaces like dog parks is advised until air quality improves. Trick training or Scent Work games are a great way to keep your dog mentally and physically exercised in your house or apartment. Humans in areas impacted by wildfires are being encouraged to wear face masks or respirators to minimize the risks associated with breathing smoke. There are a few different masks on the market for dogs such as Dog Pollution Mask, and goggles like these from Doggles that may reduce eye irritation from the smoke. Unfortunately, unlike masks for people these masks are less readily available.

    Which dogs need air filter muzzle masks?Having just moved with my dogs from New York to Oregon (which in recent years has had more issues with wildfires like neighboring Northern California), I am considering buying air pollution masks for my dogs.  Don't do this after a wildfire in your area. Of course, this means once I have the K9 dog pollution masks, I’ll need to begin slowly desensitizing my dogs to wearing them. If an air quality emergency were to occur, my dogs need to already comfortable with wearing and breathing through something on their faces – a sensation that might feel strange to anyone.

    Which Dogs Are at Risk for Complications from Smoke Exposure

    Smoke inhalation is dangerous for all dogs regardless of breed or age, but there are specific concerns with some breeds. Dr. Loenser explains that dogs with short noses - bulldogs, pugs and Boston terriers, to name a few - are especially at risk. Additionally, Loesner explains that very young and very old dogs of any breed can be more fragile and at risk for medical complications from smoke inhalation.

    Being Prepared

    The wildfires in California are a good reminder about the importance of having an evacuation plan for your family including all your dogs. Natural disasters can strike at any time and it’s important to be prepared. Make sure your dog is wearing a collar with updated identification tags. In your vehicle it’s a good idea to have easily accessible digital copies of proof of vaccination, photos of your dog (in case they become lost), spare leashes, food, and any prescriptions your dog might need.

    Jordan Holliday advises to, when developing an evacuation plan, have a designated person in your household responsible for evacuating the dog. If no one is able to get your dog(s) out, this person needs to, “let the fire department personnel know that he or she is still inside the home. Have your pet microchipped so that in the event your pet is able to escape, you can find him or her after the fire. Place a sticker or identification in the window of your home so that fire department personnel know there is a pet in the home if a fire breaks out when you aren’t there.”

    Safety Plan for Your Dog During Wildfire Smoke

    Safety Plan for Your Dog During Wildfire Smoke

    With all the recent wildfires in California, Washington, Oregon, and Montana we would like to remind you of proper fire safety and prevention for families with pets. Statistics show that half a million pets are affected and 40,000 pets are killed by fires annually. So before a fire starts, here are some preventative measures to take:

    1. Create a fire escape plan.
    2. Set up a meeting place and multiple routes in order to exit your house safely and quickly.
    3. Put a Pet Rescue Fire Safety Sticker on your window. This will indicate what species of pets you have, and how many, so that firefighters will know who to look for. You can pick up these stickers (normally free of charge) at any humane society or veterinary office.
    4. Free your home (and spaces surrounding where your outdoor pets live) of brushy areas. This will help deplete the fire sources around your home.
    5. Know your pets hiding places. The smell of smoke and sound of burning substances are scary for pets. Most often they will become frightened and hide in a place where they feel secure. Knowing your pets hiding places will help you find them quickly so that everyone can exit the home.
    6. Create a pet emergency kit. This kit should supply your pet with an adequate amount of food, any prescriptions your pet needs and his/her vaccine history in case they need to be boarded.
    7. Be aware when lighting candles. Puppy tails and pouncing kittens can make a harmless candle an extreme fire hazard. Be aware of your pets’ location when candles are lit and place them out of harms’ way.
    8. Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year.

    Prepare-For-Wildfire-Smoke-Dog-Pollution-KitIn the event of a fire in or near your home always remember to secure your pets on a leash or in a carrier to prevent them from running away in fright. Don’t forget to bring your pet emergency kit, enough food for one week, their favorite toy and/or blanket, a food and water bowl and their ID tags.

    Unfortunately, many families do not have enough time to get to a safe place before the fire is upon them. For this reason, Aspen Grove would like to teach you how to properly care for your pet if they are suffering from smoke inhalation. Smoke inhalation is a serious medical condition and should not be taken lightly. Chemicals released from burned materials such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and cyanide are dangerous and poisonous for your pet. Inhalation of these chemicals can result in severe lung injury, burnt airways and death. The signs of smoke inhalation can include but are not limited to:

    • Severe coughing Red,
    • inflamed eyes
    • Weakness/lethargy
    • Depression
    • Bright Red, blue or pale mucous membranes
    • Singed or burnt hair
    • Respiratory distress and/or difficulty breathing
    • Gagging/vomiting
    • Open-mouth breathing
    • Foaming at the mouth
    • Seizures Squinting Skin and/or ocular burns

    Assessing the situation is important, but taking your pet to clean, oxygenated air is your priority. If your pet is still inside the building, loosely drape a wet towel over his/her eyes and nose to prevent further smoke inhalation. Once out of the burning area, ask the fire personnel for an oxygen mask for your pet; this will reduce your pets’ risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. If you are not able to take your pet to a veterinarian right away, than place your pet in a steamy room or near a humidifier in order to increase the amount of moisture in their lungs. The amount of damage to your pet may not be apparent for several hours, so take your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible for assessment and stabilization.

    Hopefully you will never have to deal with the trauma of a fire taking your home. However, certain preventative measures should be taken if you and your pet are near a wildfire even if you think you are not in harms’ way. First, decrease the amount of exercise time your pet gets outside. Avoid dog parks and long walks.

    As we all know, pets have a keen sense of smell. They will be able to smell the smoke from far away and may become irritable or frightened. Depending on the distance between you and the fire, your pets’ respiratory system may become stressed and gagging/coughing or other symptoms may occur. Always offer your pet ample amounts of fresh water and of course, give them lots of love!

    Dog's Suffering from Intense Smoke with Respiratory Problems

    Dog's Suffering from Intense Smoke with Respiratory Problems

    All residents in major urban areas where this summer's wildfires hit, including all their furry pet friends, are facing the brunt of the dense blanket of smog and smoke that has engulfed many Northwest cities.

    Pet owners, especially those of dogs, complained that the animals are having difficulty in breathing and have turned lethargic. Animal lovers said that their pets have developed wheezing and coughing.

    “My 5-year-old Pitbull, Pluto, has just been lying in a corner and not responding to anyone since Diwali. He does not respond even when my mother or I try to play with him. We have reduced his walk time and are hoping he gets better soon. We urge people to stop bursting crackers; it has been days that the festival is over,” Priyanka, a 22-year-old student, said.


    air-pollution-effects-on-dogsResidents said that their pets’ appetite has also reduced due to the loud noises and smoke from the crackers. They said that the moment a cracker is burst, their pets get scared, go to a corner and stop eating. Some are force-feeding their pets so that they do not become weak. Also, the eyes of some dogs have turned red, discharging water due to irritation from the pollutants.

    Neha, a 29-year-old executive, said, “The eyes of my American Cocker Spaniel, Zoro, have turned red and tear-like substance flows from them. We have been washing his eyes with cold water and putting eye drops but it is not helping.”

    Doctors said that the increasing wildfire smoke pollution is having adverse effects on animals. They said that the owners should try and keep their pets indoors, under air-conditioners, to reduce their contact with the unclean air.

    “Air pollution has increased the risk of pets developing cardiovascular diseases or respiratory symptoms such as a persistent cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, tightness of chest. Owners should reduce the time of the morning and evening walks as pollutants are closer to the ground in these hours,” Dr Ashok Kumar, veterinary doctor, said.

    Doctors also said that the pets should be comforted by owners. Dr Vinod Sharma, a city-based veterinary doctor, said, “It is important to that the pet owners ensure that the dogs are not scared as they risk of going into depression due to noise and air pollution.”

    Protecting Your Dog's Health From Air Pollution

    Protecting Your Dog's Health From Air Pollution

    Does air pollution affect a dog’s health? The answer is an emphatic “Yes!” Just as humans even pets and other animals are facing a tremendous danger to their existence due to the offensive air quality that is only deteriorating by every passing day. It is like an epidemic engulfing every nook and cranny in the globe.

    Dog-pollution-mask-filter-smog-smokeA 2011 study on the effects of passive smoke on cats found that such cats began to suffer from reduced lung functioning when compared to cats that lived in a home inhabited by non-smokers. Airborne toxins have an extremely negative impact on animals too, especially stray dogs living on the city streets. Animals in general too, show higher sensitivity to pollutants. Cats, dogs and other pets develop asthma, diseases of the nose and throat, and bronchitis when exposed to year round air pollution.

    What are the Sources of Air Pollution?

    Vehicular fumes, burning of coal & diesel (fossil fuels), industrial emissions, pesticides, power plants, livestock & landfill related methane and rapid urban construction are major culprits to cause an air pollution of an extreme level, the way we are experiencing in the major Indian Cities today. Recent findings claim that dogs residing in heavily polluted cities have brains which show increased inflammation and neural changes that are responsible for Alzheimer’s disease in human beings. Indoor sources like smoking tobacco, fireplaces, cooking, is also bit harsh on pets and special care must be taken in case of brachycephalic dog breeds like the Pugs, Pekingese, boxer and Shih-tzu dogs.

    Well, we can’t run away from the very air we are breathing but we can definitely infuse some habits and home add-ons to minimize the effect of air pollution on dogs, cats and furry rabbits. A well ventilated Green Home can help you and your pet breathe in air that is detoxified. Beautify your home interiors with indoor plants that will purify the air such as Philodendrons, Massangeana cane (sucks formaldehyde from air), Pothos (clears the air of carbon monoxide and formaldehyde), Anthuriums (frees the air of ammonia), `Song of India’ (absorbs toxins like xylene), Parlor Palm and Phalaenopsis orchids.

    wildfire-smoke-dog-pollution-air-filter-maskIt is not advisable to clean homes with chemical solvents rather the use of natural preparations that consist of white vinegar and baking soda should be encouraged. One must opt for wall and floor coverings and other furnishings that are made with eco friendly elements. Use paints that have a low volatile organic compound density.

    Further smoking indoors should be avoided. Use organic cat loungers and dog beds. Also go for pet accessories such as leashes, sweatshirts and dog collars that are made using natural and eco friendly materials. Taking your dog for a walk? Learn how to tackle the outdoors? It is important to be well informed of the air quality in one’s area on a day to day basis. The days when atmospheric pollution reaches the red mark it is advised for pets to stay indoors or at least away from the high traffic areas. Use of less toxic chemical pesticides should be promoted in our gardens.

    While walking the dog, make sure you stay away from high traffic zones as these tend to be laden with foreign toxic particles. Opt for open spaces away from busy roads. Believing that you alone can make a change is a good beginning. An intelligent approach to human life style is to be acutely conscious of our planet earth as a living being and work towards un-polluting the exotic planet we all call home.

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