Experts recommend keeping pets indoors as smoke from Canada enters New York State

Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 6:23 PM EDT
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BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- The dangerous air quality, caused by wildfires in Canada, throughout New York State is not only a health risk to humans but pets and animals. They are faced with similar risks from exposure to fine particles in the air.

Pets most at risk are those who already have a concurrent health condition such as asthma or heart conditions, where they may face difficulty breathing in the smoky air.

Although these high-risk pets should be cared for with extra precaution, SPEAK Animal Hospital Veterinarian Dr. Megan Penfield Macneill said all pets should still be ensured special protection and monitored for any symptoms.

“The reason for that is they may have underlying health issues that you are not aware of,” said Dr. Penfield Macneill, “Asthma in cats often goes undiagnosed and when there are air quality issues like this, it can make those symptoms worse, and they can potentially even be life-threatening.”

Dr. Penfield Macneill recommends calling a vet or an emergency center if you notice anything unusual.

She said doctors are not expecting long-term effects on animals from the air quality but still advised owners to take precautions. Penfield Macneill said animals should stay inside and their activity should be limited.

Animal shelter volunteers and staff are also faced with adapting their daily routines to ensure their staff and animals are protected.

As going for walks outside is the main form of releasing dogs’ energy, the Broome County Humane Society’s staff had to quickly find new ways to engage the dogs, while limiting outside exposure.

“So this morning when we were cleaning kennels, we did really short walks, just having them go out, use the bathroom, and come right back in,” Broome County Humane Society Kennel & Behavior staff member Amanda Hoak said. “Since we have reached the hazardous zone, we’re trying to use alternative ways to have them stretch their legs, get some mental stimulation and everything.”

Hoak said this change has definitely been an adjustment and has noticed the dogs have been higher strung than normal. She said the Humane Society is trying its best to find other ways for the animals to release energy while staying safe inside.