BEND, OR -- Wildfire smoke from central Washington and British Columbia is covering most of the state and Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality has issued an air quality alert for the High Desert through noon Thursday. People are urged to limit time spent outside, especially those with underlying cardiac or respiratory health problems.
Just like people, animals can also struggle in the smoke. Lynne Ouchida, with the Humane Society of Central Oregon, says pets should be kept inside, if at all possible. "The groups of dogs and cats that you want to keep a close eye on are seniors, short-muzzled breed cats and dogs – so, you’ve got your Persians, and then you’ve also got Pugs, your Boxers, your Lhasa Apsos, Pekingese – and then also, you want to take a little bit more precaution with those that are overweight and heavy."
Ouchida says pets can suffer with many of the same symptoms as people, "There’s an increase in coughing or gagging, difficulty breathing, even raspier or an increase in the noise that you’re hearing. We’re actually even seeing dogs in the shelter coming in with eye irritation and some watery eyes because they’ve been running around on the streets if they were a stray." And, in extreme cases, she says animals can suffer with asthma-like symptoms, "They can have an increased breathing rate because that smoke is bothering their lungs. Sometimes you’ll see them resting more, they’re kind of fatigued and kind of feeling weak. If you start seeing that, or if they seem disoriented or stumbling, maybe not drinking as much or have a reduced appetite – if you’re seeing those more serious types of symptoms, as well as the coughing and the gagging, definitely consult your veterinarian."
To help mitigate the smoky conditions, make sure air conditioners are set to recirculate air in your car or home, which will also help keep pets comfortable.