Local News

Pets not immune to poor air quality

PULLMAN, Wash. - With Washington experiencing poor air quality due to smoke from wildfires, WSU's College of Veterinary Medicine recommends that animal owners recognize that air quality advisories apply to animals, too.

“Advisories meant to caution people to avoid heavy work or exercise outdoors and to remain indoors as much as possible, also should be applied to our pets,” explained Dr. Robert Dyke, a member of the veterinary faculty in the Community Practice Service of WSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. “Mammals lungs are all very similar, and some in other species like birds are extremely sensitive to particulates in the air.”

Advisories currently show shifting winds, which could bring in more smoke from fires across the region. Smoke tends to be the worst at night.

If you must exercise your pet outdoors, you should try for the times of day when smoke and dust are the most dispersed.  “On really severe days, designated with a red air quality warning, maybe only a quick outing in the yard is best,” said Dyke. “By all means, though, avoid intensive exercise during these periods of poor air quality.”

Birds are especially susceptible to the effects of poor air quality.

You should also pay more attention to pets that have been diagnosed with lung or heart disease, as smoke is an increased hazard for them.

Symptoms of smoke or dust irritation can include:
-increased coughing,
-difficulty breathing,
-eye irritation and excessive watering,
-a dry, irritated throat,
-nasal discharge,
-chest pains,
-asthma-like symptoms,
-increased heart rate, and
-increased fatigue.

For more information, you can check air quality at the Spokane Clean Air site.