As wildfires burn across the Intermountain West, many families and their pets are suffering the consequences. Thankfully the Billings area has been spared from wildfires this summer, but we are not out of the woods yet. Should disaster strike, we thought it best to brief you on what to know, just in case.

Wildfire Health Concerns

Smoky skies can affect your pet’s well being, just like it does yours. In fact, if you’re feeling the adverse affects of poor air quality, chances are your pet is feeling much the same and possibly has been for a while.

 Signs that your pet may be suffering from smoke-related illness include:

  • Greater effort to breathe

  • Increased respiratory rate

  • Sneezing, wheezing, or coughing

  • Nasal discharge

  • Squinting

  • Redness of the eyes

  • Discharge from the eyes

  • Scratching or pawing at the eyes

If your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms, please monitor his or her condition closely, if it worsens please contact us for further instructions.

Keep in mind that extreme cases of smoke inhalation can cause emergency conditions in your pet’s health. If your pet is experiencing any of the following symptoms, please treat it like an emergency and come in to the clinic:

  • Disorientation or confusion

  • Fainting

  • Excessive sleepiness

  • Coma

  • Seizures

Not surprisingly, the key to keeping your pets healthy and safe during wildfire conditions is keeping them indoors whenever possible. Not only will this reduce the chances of air quality related illness, but it may also alleviate some of your pet’s anxiety as well.

Precautions and Planning for Wildfires

If a wildfire is burning in your area, or if you are put on evacuation notice, please keep the following tips in mind:

Before the Fire

  • As soon as a fire begins, make certain all your pets are wearing their tags and their microchip information is current. If you pet is not chipped, you may want to consider doing so.

  • Create a Pet Disaster Preparedness Kit and keep it at the ready. This should include:

  • Current vaccination records

  • A photo (should you become separated)

  • Your pet’s crate

  • Leashes and bowls

  • Familiar comfort items

  • A minimum of 3 days, if not 7–10 days, worth of food, meds, and water

  • Keep your pets indoors as much as possible. If they must go out, keep them on-leash and close by.

  • Practice loading your pets into their crates ahead of time. Do not wait until the last possible minute to crate your pets, as it may create an unnecessary delay.

  • In case of an evacuation, do not leave your pets behind.

After the Fire

  • Give pets time to re-orient before letting them out unattended. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered and cause your pet confusion or to become lost.

  • Keep pets away from debris, downed power lines, or any other objects that could cause your pets harm.

  • Be mindful of the stress your pet has been under. He or she may become more protective or skittish and may need a little extra comfort and TLC in order to return to his or her old self.

Finally, keep in mind that many pets are extremely sensitive to natural phenomena such as wildfire. Knowing that, it is possible that your pets will not only become more protective of you and your family during a crisis such as this, but will also become more in-tune with your emotions as well. Do your best to remain calm and level headed in an emergency. Doing so will not only serve to reduce your stress, but your pet’s as well.

Should you have any other questions or concerns, would like extra copies of your pet’s vet records, or need have your pet chipped, please don’t hesitate to contact us.