COLORADO, USA — For the third straight day, Denver's air quality on Monday ranked among the worst in the world.
The poor air quality has impacts not just on people spending time outside, but also their pets.
9NEWS spoke to Veterinarian Margot Vahrenwald about what owners should do to keep their animals safe.
(Editors note: Some responses may have been edited for context or clarity.)
9NEWS: Does the poor air quality impact animals?
Vahrenwald: Yes, very much. I don’t think owners are necessarily aware about air quality directly but definitely in terms of patients we’ve seen many more dogs and even some cats with eye irritation, even eye infections that come from all the excess particular matter in the air.
We’ve also seen is some of our patients that are asthmatic, just like on the human, that their lungs are much more irritated maybe they’re coughing but still acting normally those kinds of things so, the same impacts that it has on people breathing stuff in we see in our pets as well.
Cats can [be impacted] too. Particularly if your cat likes to hang out in a window or is indoor/outdoor they can be impacted and definitely cats and dogs that have upper respiratory issues are going to be impacted by the air quality because we can’t keep all of the air out it’s going to come into our houses as our systems turn over.
What can owners do to keep their pets safe?
Vahrenwald: Avoiding heavy exercise during the worst times of air quality particularly mid to late afternoon we’ve been seeing really bad air quality [and] noticing if their pet is bothered in terms of excess eye discharge, eye redness, rubbing their eyes, a dry but not productive cough [or] sometimes just being a little out-of-sorts can do it.
The other benefit that can be helpful as well, is those that have air conditioners, changing the filter on the air conditioners so that particular matter isn’t staying and circulating through the HVAC system.
When is it time to bring your pet to the vet?
Vahrenwald: If you’re seeing that your pet is heavily affected like if you’re seeing yellow green discharge from the eyes or they seem super blinky and sensitive or again the cough is really having an impact on their comfort and also if you’re seeing changes in respiration effort and rate, those can be signs that maybe the smoke is getting to them.
They’re mammals we have very similar physiologies, some of the outcomes may be different but they are as impacted as we are. They just can’t say, 'hey dude, it’s really bad.' They’re going to show us symptomatically or maybe just be reluctant to go on a walk because to them, it even smells or taste terrible.
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