Breathing issues and fatigue: Exactly how bushfire smoke could be affecting your pets.

On Tuesday morning, amid the worst start to a fire season Australia has ever seen, thousands of residents in the greater Sydney region woke up to a city shrouded in a thick blanket of smoke.

At the time of reporting, more than 80 fires are burning across New South Wales alone, of which 35 are yet to be contained.

There are more than 2000 firefighters on the ground in New South Wales, and there are over 100 aircrafts fighting fires in NSW, Victoria and Queensland. It’s estimated the area burned so far is larger than some small countries.

In the Sydney CBD alone, the smoke from bushfires has made its way inside train stations and office buildings – including Sydney’s law courts – setting off smoke alarms and forcing hundreds of buildings to evacuate.


Sydney Harbour ferries have also been cancelled, due to extremely poor visibility.

In most of the greater Sydney region today, the Department of Health reports that the air quality has reached ‘hazardous’ levels.

Put simply, Sydney’s air quality index skyrocketed to 12 times hazardous levels today.

In NSW, ambulances are responding to increasing instances of respiratory illnesses. As a result, health authorities have urged Sydneysiders and those affected to stay indoors with the windows closed, avoid vigorous exercise and cover their nose and mouth with a mask.

But while there’s been a strong focus on the impact of smoke on humans, it’s important to consider the effects on our pets as well.

Late last month, the Animal Welfare League NSW urged pet owners not to forget their animals.

According to the welfare group, bushfire smoke can affect our pets (including dogs, cats, birds, rabbits and guinea pigs), livestock, horses and wildlife.

In particular, brachycephalic breeds, such as pugs and bulldogs, are the most at risk.

“Animals with cardiovascular or respiratory disease are especially at risk from smoke and should be closely watched during all periods of poor air quality,” a statement from the Animal Welfare League read.


“Brachycephalic breeds such as bulldogs and pugs have obstructed airways which restrict their ability to breathe and should be monitored in cases of thick smokes and air pollution.”

According to the group, signs of excessive smoke exposure in pets can include difficulty breathing, fatigue and weakness, eye irritation, and disorientation or stumbling.

Speaking to Yahoo News AustraliaDr Romy Feldman, who owns mobile vet service The Roaming Vet, said that pets should be monitored closely – especially those with pre-existing respiratory conditions.

“I think that anyone who has an animal with a pre-existing condition should keep them indoors if they can and try to keep the air as clean as they can,” she told the publication.

“Obviously if anyone has an animal who is starting to cough more, or showing signs of respiratory disease, they should see a vet.”

Here’s how to protect your pets from smoke inhalation this bushfire season, according to the Animal Welfare League:

  • Keep your pets indoors as much as possible, and keep your windows shut.
  • Avoid outdoor exercise during periods of poor quality.
  • Birds are particularly susceptible and should not be allowed outside when smoke is present.
  • Have an animal emergency plan and evacuation kit ready.

For more on this topic:

Feature Image: Getty.

Have your pets been struggling with the current conditions? Let us know in the comments.

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