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A message from Smokey the bear!

: Christie Roening, for TAP

The entire West Coast is experiencing one of the most destructive and heart-breaking fire seasons with a whole lot of dangerous smoke. Air quality has reached unhealthy to hazardous conditions in many areas. Keeping your pups safe during wildfire season is just as important as keeping us humans safe!

How Is Air Quality Measured?

An Air Quality Index measures the hazardous particles in the air on a scale from 0 – 500, with 0 signifying the best air quality and 500 the worst. 

Particulate matter, or PM, is the most concerning pollutant emitted from wildfire smoke. These particles are usually very small and can easily be inhaled into the lungs, causing new respiratory issues or exasperating existing problems. 

Check these sites for current air quality data in your area:




Signs Your Pup Is in Distress

Dogs with respiratory illnesses are especially at risk, although smoke and poor air quality can still affect the healthiest of pups. Contact your vet immediately if you notice the below signs:

  • Coughing or gagging
  • Heavy breathing and/or increased noise when breathing
  • Open-mouthed breathing
  • Excessive watery eyes and irritation
  • Nasal discharge
  • Decreased thirst and appetite
  • Seizures
  • Trouble keeping balance; change in coordination
  • Weakness and fatigue

Remember, even if you don’t see flames, smoke can still cause serious health problems!

Tips to Keep Your Fur Baby Safe Indoors

Keep your dog indoors while the air quality is unsafe, allowing for brief, outdoor potty breaks. Follow these tips to keep the air clean:

  • Keep doors and windows closed; however, it if gets too hot, open the windows and doors to allow some air in as heat is a hazard in itself
  • Use A/C, if possible, and set to “recirculate”
  • Use an air cleaner with a HEPA filter
  • Run your furnace fan WITHOUT heat to keep the air circulating at home
  • DO NOT vacuum
  • DO NOT burn anything including candles, gas stoves, cigarettes, and incense
  • DO NOT fry or boil when cooking

Ensure your pup has plenty of fresh water and food, too keep their health and energy up. Don’t forget about yourself, too!

Evacuation Preparedness

We hope no one would have to evacuate, although it’s good to be prepared, just in case. 

Items to include in a Pet Evacuation Kit are:

  • Food, water, and medications for at least 7 days
  • Canine first aid supplies including but not limited to; gauze, ointment, cotton balls, and eye wash 
  • Documents such as recent vet records, vaccination certificates, an emergency contact list, and a current photo of your pet
  • Crates, dog bed/blanket, extra collar with ID tag, and leash

Please stay safe! Keep your beloved fur babies indoors during periods of poor air quality and fire danger. And remember, extra snuggle time with your pooch can comfort both of you during these difficult times!


California Air Resources Board

EPA Wildfire Pet Factsheet

AMVA Wildfire Smoke and Animals