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Keeping Your Dog Safe from Wildfire Smoke and Poor Air Quality


As record-breaking wildfires displace thousands across Colorado, California, and Oregon, neighboring states are feeling the effects. Toxic smoke from dozens of fires is damaging air quality as far afield as Kansas.

Because wildfires and smoke travel swiftly, even those living hundreds of miles from high-risk zones should prepare. Here are a few things you can do to protect your family (four-legged members included) from wildfire smoke and poor air quality.

What can you do to stay protected from wildfires?

Shut all doors and windows and stay inside.

If you live in an area affected by wildfire smoke, only venture outside when absolutely necessary. Avoid smoking, vacuuming, burning candles, or other activities that may stir up harmful particles.

Keep walks and potty breaks to a bare minimum. Opt for indoor activities with your dog where possible. Always supervise your dog while outdoors — pets frightened by extreme weather conditions may flee or seek shelter in dangerous areas.

Set up a “clean” room.

If the air quality is good, take some precautions. Fit your central air conditioning unit with fine particle filters. Pack an evacuation kit for your family and pets. (Keep reading for a list of supplies to include.)

If certain areas of your home are difficult to protect, you may want to set up a “clean” room. Choose a well-ventilated area, like a basement or bathroom. Remove any plants or products that are toxic to pets. Set up a portable air filtration unit if you have one. Seek shelter in this room in the event of poor air quality.

Monitor your pet for signs of respiratory distress.

Contact your vet immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms of smoke inhalation:

  • Watery or irritated eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Labored, rapid, or open-mouthed breathing
  • Loss of coordination
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite or thirst

Distract your pup (and yourself!) with some fun games or training sessions.

There’s no better distraction than playtime with your pooch. Choose mentally and physically stimulating activities to replace vigorous outdoor adventures like walking and agility training. Stair ball, the muffin tin game, and advanced trick training are just a few indoor activities your woofer is sure to love.

Check the air quality in your area.

The EPA Air Quality Index provides up-to-the-minute coverage. Consider bookmarking the relevant link for easy access.

Reschedule any upcoming outdoor adventures.

Even if you’re planning an outdoor excursion in a faraway area, consider postponing your travel plans. Since September 4, 2020, the California National Guard rescued more than 300 hikers and 16 dogs in Fresno County.

Choose a Pet Caregiver to look after your pup while you’re out.

Pet Caregivers on the Wag! platform can check on your pet while you’re working or running errands. In just a few clicks, you can book a short dog walking or drop-in session on-demand. For extra peace of mind, chat with your Pet Caregiver in-app to receive text, photo, and video updates.

Message a vet with questions and concerns.

If you have questions or concerns about how the West Coast wildfires affect your pet, connect with a licensed veterinarian 24/7 through Wag! Health.

How can I prepare myself and my dog for an emergency evacuation?

Pack your supplies as soon as possible.

In some areas, evacuation is a worst-case scenario — but preparedness is paramount even if you’re far away from the high-risk zone.

In addition to your own essentials, be sure to pack a doggy evacuation bag with the following supplies. Keep it close to the front door or in your car in case you have to leave quickly.

  • First aid kit

  • Extra harness and leash

  • Canned or dry dog food

  • Treats

  • Bottled water

  • Food and water bowls

  • Waste bags

  • Veterinary records

  • Medications

  • Crate, preferably hard-sided

  • Crate liners

  • Toys

What are additional resources that I can look at?

2021 emergency preparedness checklist for pet parents who own dogs and cats

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