Animal re-entry safety tips

For all residents bringing pets home

By Dr. Carolyn Levitz, Veterinarian of the Fort McMurray SPCA


The safety recommendations for humans re-entering an area following evacuation due to wildfires, also pertains to pets.


During an air quality alert warning:
• Pets should remain indoors, as much as possible.
• Avoid exercising and do not engage in high energy activities; such as jogging, hiking, running beside a bicycle, etc.
• Keep your pet well hydrated. Make sure your pet has access to a clean and abundant supply of water. This ensures that animals have moist airways that can function well to move inhaled particles up and out of the body.
• Pets should not be left outdoors for hours at a time. For example, when you are at work. The air quality in an area can change rapidly.
• Short walks are okay for dogs who require walks for bathroom purposes, but otherwise should be avoided.
• Special attention should be given to young, elderly and pregnant pets, as well as animals with diseases (especially if their conditions are respiratory or cardiac related).
• If your pet exhibits abnormal signs; such as coughing, vomiting, lack of appetite etc., they should be evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

During a boil water advisory:
Many dogs eat anything they find outside and ingest huge numbers of bacteria with no problems. Boil water advisories are usually enacted because of the detection of E.coli in the water. If E.coli is present, it means that other potentially harmful microorganisms can be present. These waterborne organisms can potentially cause disease in your pet, or pets that get infected can remain healthy, but shed the organism and become a source of infection for people. Therefore, during a boil water advisory, boil water for your pets when you are boiling water for your family, or use bottled water.

Signs of smoke inhalation:
Your pet needs to be evaluated by a veterinarian for possible smoke inhalation if any of the following signs are seen:
• Difficulty breathing
• Increased respiratory rate
• Burns, swelling or inflammation of the mouth, eyes, skin, throat
• Open mouthed breathing
• Drunken, uncoordinated gait
• Weakness, lethargy
• Foaming at the mouth
• Smoke smell to the fur
• Abnormal vocalization
• Seizures
• Coma
• Squinting
• Change in colour, or spots on the cornea (outermost surface of the eye)

Remember air quality and boil water advisories apply to animals as well as humans. The same hazards to the respiratory and digestive systems face by people are faced by our pets.

–  Article as shown in Connect’s Special Edition – First Issue After the Wildfire – Released May 28, 2016 –

-Connect Weekly-