October 24, 2020
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All About Pets

Mickey Zeldes
When the smoke comes
September 25, 2020

It’s so nice to be able to take a deep breath of air and not choke up and start coughing!  I know several people who have asthma and have been really suffering with the poor air quality recently.  Made me think about all the wildlife, livestock and outdoor pets that are stuck living in that poor air all the time.  Animals can certainly have issues from asthma and smoke inhalation as much as people do!

Lots of animals right now are suffering from allergies.  The fires are releasing lots of allergens (pollen especially) into the air and there’s no escaping them!  If your pets are itching more than usual it may be these airborne allergens that are the cause.  Bathe your pet at least weekly to remove as much as possible and seek veterinary help if there are actual sores and hot spots starting.  Your dog and cat may need a steroid shot to calm down the inflammation.  

Pets should definitely be brought inside when the air quality index gets above 100 and into the unhealthy zone.  They might not fully appreciate your concern for their health but in the long-run it will save you money on future vet bills and keep them from suffering.  Limit their exercise to early morning and evening when it is cooler outside.  The combination of heat and smoke can really compromise a pet quickly, especially those with short muzzles and other breathing issues. Be on the look-out for open mouth breathing and wheezing sounds, eye irritation and excessive watering and a nasal discharge.  If your pet shows any of these signs it may be worth a visit to your veterinarian.  Can’t do anything for the wildlife and livestock but we can certainly help keep our pets more comfortable!  Here are a few more tips for the smoky days still to come.

Stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s and Freidman’s are selling out of air filters and purification systems and with good reason.  Even with the windows closed the smoke particles can get inside and not everyone in this area has air-conditioners so opening windows is necessary in the heat.  You can get air filtration systems that are portable which is nice since you can move it from the living area during the day into your bedroom at night. 

Another way to clean the air in your home is with a UV light system.  I can’t speak to the claims or recommend one system over another but it’s certainly worth exploring your options.  Sure beats sitting in your home with your mask on!  And we know our pets would never put up with wearing that kind of protection.  A few other suggestions is to replace your AC filter more frequently and to clean your air ducts and carpeting so that particles don’t build up.  Wash all your pets bedding frequently for the same reason.  Having indoor plants can help freshen your air as well.

They sell home air quality testing kits and that might be worth doing – even now that the fires aren’t the immediate threat that they were a couple weeks ago.  You may be surprised to learn that your air quality is poor and for your own health it would be worth taking steps to improve it.  Not only will you feel better but your pets will benefit too!


Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at