‘Treat our pets like our children’: Smoky air dangerous for pets, too

VIDEO: How to keep your pets safe in the smoke

SEATTLE — This hazardous air is not only harmful to humans but our furry companions as well.

My 5-year-old bichonpoo Bella desperately wants to go outside, unaware that the thick smoke draping over western Washington is making it unhealthy.

For many pet owners who may be going through a similar dilemma, health experts warn prolonged exposure outside can irritate our eyes and respiratory system. This makes it difficult to breathe -- and our pets are no different.

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“Just like humans, who might be asthmatic, or have bronchitis, dogs and cats with those conditions are really prone these last couple of weeks to flareups as well, we’ve been seeing through our emergency clinic and getting them on inhalers,” said Dr. Jennifer Sergeeff, Bluepearl Veterinary Specialist.

Dr. Sergeeff warns smoke can cause severe lung damage for our pets. Signs of smoke inhalation can include agitation, seizures, facial swelling, and slow reaction time.

“They tend to hide more, and try to work through it, we don’t hear them coughing as much, so they don’t clear out the debris, kind of like you and me if we had a big coughing fit,” said Dr. Sergeeff.

Injuries from smoke inhalation may gradually get worse during the first 24 hours, so we need to closely monitor our animals and seek medical attention before it becomes critical.

“If they start taking big deep breaths, that may be a precursor to labored breathing, kind of like excessively deep ones, we start getting worried about,” said Dr. Sergeeff.

A potential life-saving move is simply to keep our furry companions inside, away from the dangerous smoke particles polluting our air. While some may prefer being indoor cats, many others are hoping the air quality improves soon. Until then, if you do need to get outside, keep the walks short. Even though they may go a little stir-crazy like my Bella, it’s all a matter of keeping them safe.

“Treat our pets like our children, they really are, and so what we are doing for ourselves is the best thing we can do for our pets, staying indoors, those of us who have access using air purifiers,” said Dr. Sergeeff.