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Vet Advice On Keeping Your Pets Safe From Prolonged Exposure To Smoke

Brian Bull

It’s wildfire season across Oregon, and many locals fear not just for their own safety, but that of their pets. KLCC’s Brian Bull shares some tips. 


Meet Abbey…our gray cat.  She’s a sweetheart who hasn’t quite breathed the same since last fall’s Holiday Farm Fire and the smog that came with it.

(Cat purrs raspily, sneezes) 

We kept all our cats inside and closed the windows and doors during the sustained smog spell.  Now we just hope Abbey breathes clean again someday.  But looking ahead to the next wildfire, we’re anxious over what to do.  That’s where Mary Whitlock, a veterinarian in Junction City, comes in. 

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Your pet needs more than a leash if you're fleeing a fire. Many bug-out kits need water, food, bowls, and other items necessary to keep your pet happy and sustained when away from home.

“If you do have air conditioning, close your windows, that will help filter the air," she advises. 

"Swap out your furnace filters, and have several filters ready to switch them out.  If it goes on two weeks, check your filter and see if it already needs to be replaced.”

Some pets' respiratory issues could also be due to the high pollen count in the air this time of year.  So if the problem persists past mid-July, it's a good idea to take your animal friend into the vet's office to make sure it's nothing serious and see if there's any remedy.

Whitlock says in the case of cats, their airways are very small, "almost like a child's" so it's important to keep those clean for them. 

Finally, eyes and ears can also be irritated, so it's important to check those out for soot and other contaminants.

And in case of encroaching fire, having a bug-out kit that includes water, food, bowl, and other things for your pet is also important.  Whitlock says she's put together a 3-day kit for her animal companion, and urges every family to do advance planning (and prayers for more rain.) 

Copyright 2021, KLCC. 

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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