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Veterinarians: Keep your pets out of the smoke

A woman walks her dog outside in the smoke.
Dr. Bell said keeping animals out of the smoke as much as possible is best case, but if they must be outside, pet owners should limit that time if possible.

Until the smoke clears, Washington State University veterinarians say the best thing pet owners can do is keep their animals indoors.

According to an air quality alert issued by the Washington State Department of Ecology, widespread smoke and haze is expected to cause unhealthy air quality throughout the week.

“I would take the same precautions for pets that you would take for you and your family,” said Dr. Jessica Bell, a small animal veterinarian at WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Bell said keeping animals out of the smoke as much as possible is best case, but if they must be outside, pet owners should limit that time if possible.

Heavy breathing is worse for animals in smoky conditions and any strenuous exercise should be avoided, she said.

“Water bowls for animals can pick up pollutants and should be changed and monitored more often, especially those outdoors,” Bell said. “If their water is contaminated with what’s in the air, they may hesitate to drink it next time.”

Bell recommends monitoring elderly pets and pets with respiratory conditions when smoke is lingering.

“Look for any discomfort, coughing, heavy breathing; sometimes conditions like these aggravate other problems,” she said.

Bell said with so many particles in the air, now is the worst time for a dog to have its head out of the window of a vehicle, noting smoke irritates the face and eyes of animals.

If animals are showing signs of discomfort, it is best to consult your regular veterinarian.

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