In this age of unpredictability, it makes sense to prepare for the worst. For those of us in the west, this means getting ready for wildfire season every year. Between packing up necessities in case of an evacuation and planning the quickest escape route, we can easily overlook the effects of smoke inhalation.
A wildfire doesn’t have to be in our backyards to suffer from dangerous side effects. As a result, pet fire safety should be one of our highest priorities.
Near Or Far
Obviously, a fire headed for your neighborhood or home is terrifying. Many people aren’t notified in time to safely pack up and evacuate before flames engulf their exit paths. In this case, just getting out is of the utmost importance.
That being said, the effects of smoke that lingers in the air for weeks at a time can be just as destructive to your pet’s health. Even if a wildfire is a safe distance away, the plumes can be carried for many square miles.
Pet Fire Safety
Quite possibly the most effective thing you can do for your pet is to keep them indoors as much as possible when air quality is unsafe. Of course no one wants to reduce their pet’s exercise time, but excessive outdoor activities can have harmful consequences.
Sometimes when they sense danger they seek out hiding places. Sadly, this can create a fatal situation if you cannot find them in time.
What You Can Do to Practice Pet Safety
Pets may start to suffer respiratory distress, exhibit fear or stress, and can even cough or gag in reaction to smoke.
- Stay with them inside the home (if safe) and provide fun, entertaining indoor activities
- Brain games or food puzzles may hit the spot
- Be sure they are totally hydrated
- Provide lots of reassurance and love
What to Look For
When buildings burn they release harmful chemicals into the air. Carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and cyanide are just a few harmful gases that can injure your pet’s delicate respiratory system. Serious lung injuries, burnt soft tissue and even death can occur. Always watch for the following symptoms and act quickly:
- Severe, non-stop coughing
- Difficulty breathing
- Inflamed eyes
- Panting without exertion
- Nasal discharge
- Bright red or blue mucous membranes
- Foaming at the mouth
- Burned skin, nose, ears or eyes
Pet fire safety includes swift response to any of these symptoms. Moving them to a clear, smoke-free area is key. Wet a towel and loosely drape it over their head to prevent more damage. If you have access to an oxygen mask, it can offer important support to your pet. Otherwise, turn on your shower to create steam or turn on a humidifier.