Wildfire Season Is Here! Do You Know How to Keep Your Pet Safe?
Fire season is here again, which means the threat of possible evacuations and smokey air. If you live in an area that is dry, these next few months are the time to make sure that your family is prepared for the chance of evacuation. You want to make sure that every member of the family is safe in the event of an emergency, including your pets.
Sadly, there are many families who do not take the time before an emergency to prepare their dog and cat, leading to injury and death. Many families also do not know about the harmful effects of forest fire smoke on a pet’s health. That’s why this year for National Pet Fire Safety Day, we’re going to go over everything you need to know to keep your pets safe in the event of a fire.
Prepare In Advance For Evacuations
When preparing for a wildfire, it’s best to prepare as far in advance as possible. While you have probably already bought cases of bottled water for your family and know how to get to your important documents quickly, you should also know how to get to your pets and their necessary supplies quickly.
Make sure you know all of your dog and cat’s hiding places, as animals tend to run for shelter at the first sign of trouble. If you have a pet door, it’ll be especially important to check the bushes and other nooks and crannies in your backyard. Also, show these hiding places to a neighbor who will agree to rescue your pets in the event an evacuation warning goes out while you are not home.
NOTE: In the event that you cannot find your pet in the event of an emergency, call for them and leave a door out of the house open. Make sure that it is a door they normally leave the house from. They will flee at the sight of danger.
It’s also important to make sure that you have all of the supplies necessary to keep your pet well-fed, calm, and safe during an evacuation. Your emergency kit for your pet should be where you keep the rest of your emergency supplies, and it should include:
- First aid supplies, such as your pet’s medications, antibacterial ointment, gauzes, tweezers, and bandages
- Extra food and water
- Toys and treats (to keep your pet calm)
- Calming spray to keep cats calm in their carrier
- Travel beds
- Bathroom supplies, like waste bags and kitty litter
- Copies of your pet’s medical and vaccination records
- The contact information of your primary care veterinarian and local animal emergency hospital
- A list of pet-friendly shelters and hotels
You should run fire drills with your family and pets to in order to ensure everyone knows what to do when a wildfire causes an emergency and is used to grabbing your pets and their emergency supplies when needed.
Watch For Signs of Smoke Inhalation
Just as people can get sick from inhaling too much fire smoke, the same can be said of your pets. Your dog and cat should avoid inhaling as much wildfire smoke as possible when there is a wildfire nearby. This means closing your windows and limiting their time outside. If you have a pet door, you should use a locking cover to prevent them from accessing the backyard.
If the air quality is bad, do not take them for walks or play with them outside. Only let them out for a few minutes to go to the bathroom.
You should also recognize the signs of wildfire smoke inhalation symptoms in your pet:
- Coughing or gagging
- Difficulty breathing, including open-mouth breathing and increased noise when breathing
- Eye irritation and excessive watering
- Inflammation of throat or mouth
- Nasal discharge
- Asthma-like symptoms
- Increased breathing rate
- Fatigue or weakness
- Disorientation or stumbling
- Reduced appetite and/or thirst
If your dog and cat have any of these symptoms, they are sick from wildfire smoke and need to be taken to an animal hospital as soon as possible.
Wildfires and other emergency situations can be scary, but it’s important that you ensure that your pet is safe during this time. If you plan on leaving the area during fire season, we recommend checking out our tips for road tripping with your dog as well as some ways you can show your cat and dog affection that isn’t hugging.