Wildfire smoke blowing in from the surrounding prairies or the beautiful mountain ranges has become an increasingly common issue for us here in Calgary. In fact, it is becoming an increasingly common issue within Canada and across the world. Not only should we be taking steps to protect our own respiratory systems, but we are also responsible for ensuring ours pets are as protected as they can be as well. If the smoke is bothering you, it is definitely bothering your pets, who tend to have a more fragile respiratory system than us humans.

During periods of high smoke, or any period in which an air quality statement is issued, you will want to keep your pets indoors as much as possible. This includes keeping your windows closed to reduce the irritating particulate matter in the air entering your house. When letting your dog outside for washroom breaks, ensure you keep the breaks short and quick; even if your pets want to play, it’s best to get them back indoors. While it can be hard, especially if you have a high energy pet who is used to walking, you will also want to reduce outdoor activity. Especially for any intense exercise during periods of poor air quality, try to wait for breaks in the air quality to walk your dog or to play in the yard.

Birds are particularly susceptible to issues with bad air quality. Definitely do not let them have any outdoor time, and—if you can—add a high-capacity air purifier to the room in which they reside in your home. This will help maintain good airflow and reduce the harmful particles in the air.

If you have any pets with cardiovascular or respiratory diseases, you will need to keep a close eye on them, and it is recommended to contact a vet if they present any negative symptoms such as coughing, gagging, or difficulty breathing; eye irritation/excessive watering or nasal discharge; inflammation of the throat or mouth; any asthma-like symptoms including increased rate of breathing; fatigue, weakness, or disorientation; and reduced appetite/thirst.

If you need to take your pet outdoors for any reason, be sure to check the air quality index beforehand. It’s usually better to take them out in the morning or evening due to reduced heat as well. Be sure to bring plenty of extra water for you and your pet, keep them close on a leash and preferably at a walking pace.

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