Dear Editor,

As wildfires continue to ravage Canada, many U.S cities are under air quality alerts, with Detroit, Chicago, and Minneapolis among those experiencing the worst air quality in the world.

It is important to remember that, like humans, other animals are also vulnerable to the harmful effects of poor air quality. Some animals, including birds, those with underlying heart and lung conditions, and young or senior animals are especially susceptible. And dogs who’ve been bred to have unnaturally flattened faces-including French bulldogs, English bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers, and boxers-struggle to breathe on a normal day. When poor air quality exacerbates the problem, the situation for these breathing-impaired breeds can quickly turn dangerous.

Companion animal guardians can best protect animals by keeping them indoors with windows closed, limiting outdoor time to essential bathroom breaks, avoiding all outdoor activities, and using air purifiers, air conditioners, and fans to ensure clean airflow indoors.

This is also a great time to assemble an emergency preparedness kit if you haven’t already. Your kit should contain a harness and leash or carrier, medications, medical records, and several days’ worth of food, bottled water, and litter for cats.

If wildfire smoke is affecting you, it’s affecting your animal companions. Domestic animals depend on us for their health and wellbeing, and with so many areas experiencing unsafe conditions, we must take extra precautions to protect them.

— Melissa Rae Sanger, LVT
The PETA Foundation
Norfolk, VA 23510