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Smoke inhalation and your pet

Dr Grace Butler

With the current fire situation and numerous bushfires surrounding our area, Canberra has been seeing a lot of smoke haze blowing in (and sometimes not blowing out). During the past few weeks the air quality has been horrendous and with more than 130 fires still blazing around NSW, there will likely be ongoing smoke. Not only does this smoke play a significant role in our own health, but our pets are also at risk of smoke inhalation and consequential damages. Similar to us, the smoke can cause our pets to have eye irritations and respiratory tract irritations. It may be more significant to those animals that already suffer from any underlying respiratory tract issues (eg asthma) or lung issues. 

Bushfire smoke is made up of numerous substances; carbon dioxide/monoxide as well as soot, organic substances, trace minerals and sometimes even very small particulate matter. This matter is often very fine which means it is able to find its way to the absolute smallest branches within the lung fields. 

Given the extent of the smoke haze at the moment, we would encourage our clients to keep a close eye on their pets and implement the following:  Limit exercise when any smoke is visible  Where possible, move pets indoors to remove them from the bulk of the smoky air  Provide your pets with plenty of access to clean/uncontaminated water  If your pet begins to show any respiratory symptoms such as; coughing, difficulty breathing, respiratory noise or nasal discharge be sure to see your vet immediately  If your pet has irritated or reddened eyes with any discharge, be sure to see your vet 

*** We understand that keeping pets indoors can be difficult, especially if they are normally and outside pet. To help keep your pet entertained whilst in doors look at suppling them with mental stimulation and activities. This may include: Ongoing training indoors Supplying your pet with kongs/chew toys Giving your pet snuffle/activity mats ***As a side note, if you find yourself having to be evacuated as a result of the ongoing bushfire crisis, it is worth considering what you would need to pack for your pet. Below is not an exhaustive list but contains items you should consider packing if required to.  Collar and lead/carry cage: evacuation centres require animals to be well restrained during their stay, especially when there may be multiple animals within the one evacuation centre  Medications  Bedding  Fresh water +/- water/feed bowl  Food – at least a few days’ worth of your pet’s food, especially if they are on prescription diets.  First aid kit – most human first aid kits have the basic essentials needed should your animal suffer a burn or irritated eyes from the smoke.   Must haves: Saline, dressings, bandages, betadine, eye lubricant and flamazine cream. These few items will provide at least triage care for your pet before you can seek veterinary attention. 

Please during the inundating smoke from around NSW, keep yourself, your loved ones and fur babies safe. If your have any concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our staff at Brudine Veterinary Hospital (02) 6258 1668 

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