Dangers of wildfires to our Vail Valley Pets

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Dangers of wildfires to our Vail Valley Pets

~~With our very dry year, the number of wildfires has increased exponentially, especially here in Eagle County. With air conditions varying, especially as the wind shifts, the quality of our air, both for humans and for pets, can become quite hazardous very quickly.
With the poor air quality, comes potential health hazards for our pets, secondary to smoke inhalation.
Signs that your pet may have experienced smoke inhalation include:
1. Increased fatigue, with exercise intolerance
2. Increased coughing
3. Increased respiratory rate and difficulty breathing
4. Asthma like symptoms
5. Increased heart rate
6. Increased nasal discharge
7. Excessive watering of the eyes
For outside animals, such as cattle and horses, these animals can have respiratory signs far sooner than our small animals , though seem more able to deal with wildfire smoke than our companion animals, but still should be monitored closely and moved to a safe area.
I have had several calls over the weekend asking if it was “safe” to walk pets in the smokey air and that is highly dependent upon the air quality at the time. I recommend trying to minimize air exposure to short walks, keeping cats inside, and not going for any extensive hikes.
Now that we know what to look for in our pets, what about how to prepare for wildfires?
We have heard endless stories of pets being separated from their owners, never to be found. In the US alone, over 5000 pets are separated from their owners each year due to fires, whether it be a house fire or wild fire.
To properly prepare, you should always have proper identification on your pet with a legible name and contact number.
Microchipping your pet is also a method of assuring that a lost pet can be reunited with it’s owner.
And more importantly than that, have an exit strategy. Have carriers ready for both your cats and dogs, and have a horse/stock trailer within close proximity to move your larger animals.
We certainly hope our small valley is done with wildfires this season, but if not, let’s try to be ready and prepared of how to protect, identify and seek care for our pets who are potentially exposed to dangerous smoke in the air.

We look forward to seeing you!