Historic wildfires have devastated California in the past few weeks, burning an astonishing 3.3 million acres in less than a month. It is estimated that 29 major forest fires are still burning across California and more than 16,750 firefighters are fighting to fight them. Washington and Oregon are also experiencing widespread destruction from the fires, which were compounded by dry, windy weather conditions.
As forest fires continue to spread across the western US states, affecting air quality and keeping wildlife to safety, vets at BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital are warning owners of potential hazards to pets.
Jennifer Sergeeff, DVM, DACVIM, internist and medical director at BluePearl in Daly City, CA, just a mile outside of the San Francisco city limits, says while the fires are about 30 miles from her practice, she and her team are in the The smoke zone of these fires (from all directions) and Daly City has been under unhealthy air quality warnings for nearly two weeks.
“We are providing medical advice to owners on heat and air quality related to the health of their pet,” noted Dr. Sergeeff. “The advice we give to the owners is primarily aimed at those with pets who have respiratory problems or allergies. We also advise owners not to expose pets to excessive heat during peak hours, as high temperatures come with fires. “
Here are some tips to help keep pets safe during forest fires.
Limit smoke exposure.
It is expected that the forest fires will continue to generate large clouds of smoke in the coming days. This smoke can harm your pet in a number of ways, including: B. by irritation of the eyes and the respiratory tract and by the worsening of chronic heart and lung diseases.
Whether your pet is healthy or has a heart or lung condition such as asthma or bronchitis, it is important to limit smoke exposure.
If wildfire occurs in your area, refer to local air quality reports and the US Air Quality Index, and look out for official smoke health warnings.
Take additional security measures such as Avoid spending time outdoors. If your pet has pulmonary or cardiovascular disease, follow your veterinarian’s instructions regarding your pet’s disease management plan.
Signs of smoke inhalation
- Uncoordinated gait
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased breathing rate
- to cough
- Facial swelling
- Squinting eyes
- Skin burns
- Slow response time
Even if your pet seems fine after exposure to smoke, it should be seen by a veterinarian.
During the first 24 hours after exposure to smoke, breathing difficulties may gradually worsen.
Treatment after inhalation of smoke is oxygen therapy; However, some animals may require intubation – a procedure in which a tube is inserted into the mouth along the windpipe to keep the airway open.
Watch out for heat exhaustion.
BluePearl vets often watch dogs Heat exhaustion, or Pet heat stroke.
Heat stroke occurs when a pet’s body absorbs more heat than it can get rid of through exercise or exposure.
If possible, Take your dog for a walk in the morning or in the evening to avoid the hottest hours of the day and leave them indoors on hot days. Even if your garden has shady areas, keep in mind that temperatures can change during the day. Always have water available and keep pets well-groomed. If the fur is matted and tangled, the fur can trap heat.
If you go for a walk with them, keep walking slowly. If your pet seems tired, rest or stop the activity. If you suspect your dog has heat stroke, soak your pet’s body with towels and water, and stand in front of the fan. then immediately bring to you at a veterinary hospital.
Keep an eye out for displaced wildlife.
Some areas in Northern California are known as the Mountain Lion and Bobcat areas. As the fires spread, these big cats and other wildlife will be driven away. Predators are pushed downhill, away from fires but closer to residential areas.
This is why BluePearl vets advise owners to do so Keep dogs and cats indoors in the morning and evening lightand to help local wildlife by leaving out water for them.
Pets that have been exposed to smoke and / or fire need immediate medical attention from a veterinarian. If clinical symptoms such as heat stroke or smoke inhalation develop and / or worsen, contact your veterinarian immediately for advice on next steps, or take your pet to a veterinary clinic for evaluation. This quick grooming can mean the difference between life and death for your pet.