New Mexico is prone to wildfires. The worse the drought the worse the fire season. This is something we all combat with good fire safety. But just like us, if there is a fire, and we get exposed to smoke and ash, it can cause breathing problems. The level of risk for breathing problems due to ash or smoke exposure is relative to the density of the smoke and the health of the person or pet.
Dogs with brachycephalic, which refers to a skull structure of dogs with pushed in faces like pugs and bull dogs, are not at more risk of damage from smoke inhalation. Though they have more soft tissue in their throats and smaller diameter windpipes, this is not where smoke causes damage. Smoke causes damage when small particles that are floating in the smoke, aka ash, find their way into the airway branches of the lungs. This can lead to pneumonia or respiratory collapse.
If you find yourself in an area with smoke from a fire, it is a good idea to remove yourself and your pets until the smoke has cleared.
Smoke causes a very serious issue for people and pets who have underlying medical conditions like asthma, bronchitis, heart conditions or lung conditions like COPD. When it is really hot outside, it can make it more difficult to breathe if you suffer from another underlying health condition and it is better to stay inside. For dogs that are brachycephalic or squished faces, it is better to keep them in during the hot weather because they have a harder time moving air through their windpipes which make it harder for them to cool down.
If you have questions about any breathing issues with your pet, please make an appointment with your Albuquerque vet to find out what is going on and if you need treatment.