Rural Vet Shares Ways To Help Your Horses During Wildfire Season

Jun 24, 2021

Wildfires pose a threat to many rural areas, which have ranches and farms.  A rural veterinary instructor has tips for keeping large animals like horses and livestock safe during fire season.

Credit Annika Treial / Unsplash

Kate Schoenhals is with Oregon State University’s Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine. She says having water and a well-ventilated space are good starts.  During a wildfire, it's best not to exercise animals while smoke is in the air.  For sustenance, hay moistened with water can help keep horses fed and not agitate their respiratory systems (through dust or other particles that may be already in the hay.)

Kate Schoenhals, Rural Veterinarian instructor, OSU, with 'Taffy'.
Credit OSU

“Probably not the time to be raking your arena or doing a thorough sweep or dust out of the barn because that’s going to stir more airway irritants," advised Schoenhals. 

"And then having an exit strategy that involves safe reliable transport for your animals, so if you need to get them to a different location that’s the other big component.” 

Schoenhals says there are respiratory supplements for animals that have breathed in smoke or particulates.  If an animal has rapid breathing, prolonged coughing, or nostril flare, it may be time to have a veterinarian see them.

During the 2020 wildfires, Schoenhals  helped organize a response team from the OSU Veterinary College to help care for pets and livestock at the Benton County Fairgrounds.  

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