SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash --- Smoky air could truly affect every member of a family including the furry ones. KREM’s 2 On Your Side learned smoke is just as damaging to pets as it is to people.
Dr. Erica Ronhovde, an associate veterinarian at VCA North Division, answered some questions about what pet owners should do when air quality is poor.
How can smoke and poor air quality affect my pet's health?
"Any warning that is out there for humans it's exactly the same for pets. Their lung physiology is exactly the same as humans, especially for cats and dogs,” said Ronhovde. “Birds’ respiratory systems are a lot more sensitive, so they (bird owners) need to be a lot more strict about keeping the air quality inside the house good, as well as not letting birds outside if that's what they do."
What are signs the smoky air could be making my pet sick?
Dr. Ronhovde said some signs include coughing, sneezing, wheezing and hard breathing.
"Air quality would mostly be respiratory irritant so coughing, respiratory rate, sometimes you'll hear them wheezing if they have asthma or undiagnosed asthma. They could kind of have the red, watering eyes things like that,” said Ronhovde.
If I notice these symptoms what should I do?
"I would recommend having their pet seen, so that we could get a listen, so that we can get our hands on their pet,” said Ronhovde.
Are animals more vulnerable to the effects of poor air quality?
"They might, because their respiratory systems are smaller and we don't exactly always know the true health of the respiratory system. They might be a little more sensitive than you,” said Ronhovde. "Heat also plays a role in this, because the heat and the humidity is going to make them overheat quicker. If they are having trouble breathing or having to breathe heavier because of the smoke in the air, those things are going to compound on each other and they could get heat exhaustion or get into respiratory distress faster than they would in normal temperatures."
Dr. Ronhovde adds livestock are able to deal with smoky air better than household pets. However, if they are showing signs she recommends speaking with an animal care professional.