The air quality in the front range has been worse than ever in the last week, even briefly landing the Mile High City in the top spot as the most polluted on the planet, according to IQAir.com, which tracks air quality for major cities around the world. And, unfortunately, with wildfires burning in California, the smoke and smog that has settled in the Front Range is forecasted to remain for the near future.
The impacts of air pollution can cause health risks for residents across the state, particularly older adults, children and people with respiratory conditions, like asthma. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment cautions Coloradans to remain indoors and avoid prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors. However, humans aren’t the only ones impacted by the poor air quality. Our pets may also be feeling the effects of the haze.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) warns pet owners that wildfire smoke can harm pets to the same degree it bothers humans. Like people, animals with cardiovascular or respiratory disease are especially at risk and should be closely monitored during periods of poor air quality.
Pollution can also have longer-term impacts on pet health. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, studies show that dogs who were exposed to heavy outdoor air pollution had increased brain inflammation and the presence of proteins that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease in humans. Additionally, one in 10 cats were diagnosed with asthma related to indoor and outdoor air pollutants.
To keep pets safe during times of poor air quality, the AVMA recommends keeping pets indoors as much as possible and keeping windows shut. When air quality alerts are in effect, the AVMA also recommends avoiding intense outdoor exercise and restricting a pet’s outside time to brief bathroom breaks. And, if your animals are experiencing any signs of air quality irritation, such as coughing or gagging, difficulty breathing, or irritation of the nose, throat or mouth, please consult your veterinarian right away.
ACTION ITEM: What can you do to help mitigate the long-term impacts of air pollution? Here are some ideas:
- Engage with groups that are working with elected officials to help reduce air pollution, such as Regional Air Quality Council, Citizens Climate Lobby and Conservation Colorado;
- Participate in Air Quality Control Commission stakeholder meetings and rulemaking hearings;
- Post our picture warning about the effects of pollution on pets on your social media; or
Share this with family and friends and help them protect their furry friends.