“Very High Risk” Air Quality Affects Pets, Too

By Dr. Wendy McClelland, DVM – Founder & Chief Medical Officer Vets To Go

With Calgary air quality index levels in the “high-risk” zone today, I want to remind pet owners that your animals may also be affected by the hazy conditions and smoke-filled air.

calgary air quality advisoryIn particular, pets with respiratory illnesses such as asthma, heart conditions, those with weakened immune systems, and senior pets are most prone to lung and eye irritation cased by current weather conditions, but even healthy pets can be affected. Environment Canada has warned the general public of the health risks to humans from the hazy air, and this warning should also extend to our furry friends.
Pets with short-noses and flat-faces such as Boston terriers, pugs, bulldogs, and Shih-Tzu’s – and cats such as Himalayan, Persian, and Scottish Fold – are particularly at-risk for respiratory issues during high-risk air quality alerts. If your pet is experiencing laboured breathing, has pale gums, excessive lethargy, or has an excessive amount of eye irritation or discharge, I recommend contacting your Veterinarian.

Tips To Help Keep Your Furry Friends Safe During Poor Air Quality Conditions

  • If you have an outdoor cat, keep him indoors temporarily until air quality conditions drop back into moderate and low levels
  • Keep your pet’s potty breaks short
  • Avoid exercising your pet outside
  • If your pet needs to burn off some extra energy, consider a game of fetch or tug of war in your living room or a round of laser pointer tag with your cat instead
  • If you must drive your pet to another location, keep windows and vents closed and run the fan on recirculate
  • Avoid running fans, such as “whole-house fans” or “fresh air ventilation systems”, that bring more smoky outdoor air inside
  • If you smoke, do not do it near your pet. Second-hand smoke is bad for animals under normal circumstances and may exacerbate symptoms during this advisory
  • Keep all doors and windows tightly closed
  • Switch your floor registers to the closed position

You can learn more about the current air-quality conditions by visiting the Alberta Air Quality Health Index website.