Pet Health Tips

Wildfire Smoke and Pets: How Does Poor Air Quality Affect Animals?

Recently, many parts of the country, especially the Midwest, Ohio Valley, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have experienced air quality alerts due to wildfires in Canada. And it’s expected this wildfire smoke could linger for several more months. If you have noticed the smoke, your pets probably have too, especially your dogs, cats, horses and birds that spend time outside.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), wildfire smoke such as that from Canada, can cause irritation to your pet’s respiratory tract and eyes. When poor air quality alerts are issued, older pets and dogs, cats and horses with heart or lung disease are especially at risk. In addition, smoke is especially tough on pet birds, so do not let them outside. A good rule of thumb, if you can see or feel the effects of the wildfire smoke, your pets can too.

How Does Wildfire Smoke Affect Dogs and Cats?

How can you know if the wildfire smoke and poor air quality is affecting your animals? According to the AVMA, here are some signs to watch for:

  • Coughing or gagging
  • Red or watery eyes
  • Nasal discharge
  • Inflammation of the throat or mouth
  • Asthma-like symptoms
  • Reluctance to eat hard foods
  • Trouble breathing such as open mouth breathing, noisy breathing or fast breathing
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Disorientation and stumbling
  • Reduced appetite or thirst

If you notice your pet with any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian.

How to Protect Pets from the Affects of Poor Air Quality from Wildfire Smoke

If an air quality alert is issued for your area, the AVMA offers these tips:

  • Keep pets indoors as much as possible with doors and windows closed.
  • If your dog, cat or horse must go outdoors, limit outdoor physical activities such as walks and runs when it’s smokey or if air quality alerts are in effect. Make outdoor bathroom breaks brief if air quality alerts are in effect.
  • Provide plenty of fresh water.
  • If you live near where the fires are happening, have an evacuation plan in place, including having your pet permanently identified with a microchip such as the BuddyID Complete Protection System. Put together a pet emergency kit and research ahead of time where you should go and if that emergency shelter accepts pets.

Visit or your state’s air quality agency’s website for the latest air quality information in your area.

Shelley Hexom

Written by: Shelley Hexom

Content Manager

Shelley Hexom is Revival's Content Manager and helps develop educational pet health resources. A three-time Emmy® Award-winning news anchor, Shelley works with Revival's Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, to help create useful and easy-to-understand articles, videos, and webinars. Shelley received her bachelor's degree in Mass Communications from Winona State University in 2002. As a pet owner, Shelley enjoys time with her Boxer mix, Sally. Shelley has been part of the Revival Paw Squad since 2016.

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