Many healthy people are still walking, biking, working or otherwise spending time outdoors and some are experiencing symptoms of bad air such headaches, cough, itchy eyes and more. Can pets experience this, too?

Chief medical officer and veterinarian Jason Nicholas of Preventive Vetof Portland said Tuesday that pets who already have respiratory issues, including cats with asthma or dogs with collapsing tracheas, are most at risk of complications from poor air quality. Also, elderly pets or young kittens or puppies can also feel the affects, as well as snub-nosed cats and dogs (otherwise known as brachycephalic breeds including pugs, French bulldogs, and Persian cats).

If owners notice pets having difficulty breathing, increased coughing or a roaring bark unlike their usual bark (in dogs), it might be time to consult a vet. To help protect pets against the effects of unhealthy air quality, Nicholas recommends owners take these precautions:
  • Keep your pets indoors as much as possible. Dogs will need breaks outside but limit the time and do not engage in strenuous activities or play. Keep cats indoors.
  • Keep windows closed if possible and use fans to circulate the air. Nicholas believes an air purifier can be helpful if the filters are properly cleaned or changed. Also, any filters on air conditioning systems or heat pumps should be changed during hazardous air events and again once the possibility of bad air has passed.
  • Hydrate your pet as much as possible. Besides offering plenty of cool clear water, humidifiers can help keep moisture in the air and helps cells in the trachea, nose and lungs stay healthy.
  • To help keep active pets satisfied when they’re not allowed outdoor exercise, Nicholas recommends “brain games” like trick training, hide-and-seek games, nose-work (sniffing for hidden food treats) and food puzzles to help engage your pet.
Keeps pets indoors as much as possible and avoid strenuous exercise during bad air quality days.

Pet birds are especially hypersensitive to air quality, according to Nicholas. If a pet bird is acting lethargic or refusing to clean themselves for more than a day, it’s best to contact a veterinarian.

Although livestock isn’t Nicholas’ specialty he recommends plenty of fresh water for hydration for farm animals, as well as “low-dust” feeding if possible. Also, fans in stalls or barns can help with air quality.

The National Weather Service in Portland expects the air quality to improve by Thursday. But the wildfire season is still in full swing and we could experience hazardous conditions again before the season is over.


Laurelwood Animal Hospital,located near Jesuit High School on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway offers a full range of companion animal services, including surgery, nutrition and behavior counseling, parasite control and preventative medicine. The hospital also offers advanced imaging through an all-digital spiral CT scanner, a comprehensive dental program and laser treatment.

If you’re looking for quality, compassionate veterinary care in Beaverton, Oregon, come visit us at Laurelwood Animal Hospital.

Laurelwood Animal Hospital

9315 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway
Beaverton, Oregon 97005

Phone: (971) 244-4230
Fax: (503) 292-6808

E-mail: [email protected]