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MailTribune.com
  • Your pets don't like this haze

    Keep Django indoors, animal experts advise
  • If you have pets, you'll notice they are suffering in the smoke just as we are. And, like us, they'll eventually get through it if they just stay inside, preferably with the air conditioning on.
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  • If you have pets, you'll notice they are suffering in the smoke just as we are. And, like us, they'll eventually get through it if they just stay inside, preferably with the air conditioning on.
    It's tougher on animals with pre-existing breathing problems.
    If cats already have asthma or dogs already have chronic bronchitis, you likely will see them cough more and be uncomfortable when the smoke is as dense as it was during the past week.
    This is to be expected. But if they start breathing faster and their bellies move in and out like a bellows, it's a sign of respiratory distress, and you should get them to a veterinarian pronto, says Dr. Kimberly Winters of Southern Oregon Veterinarian Specialty Center in Medford.
    It's hard to watch Django (this year's most popular dog name) suffering without his big run, chasing the orange ball from your dog atlatl (ball thrower), but it won't be forever. "Dogs need to run," she says. "Mine is going stir crazy. But it's more harmful to take them out in this smoke than for them to be inactive inside for a few weeks."
    A good diversion is to get the mutts obsessed with the popular and indestructible Kong toy, the one you can stuff with milk bones or wet dog food, says Winters. They will jam their tongues in it for hours, trying to grab out a little tasty treat.
    If things get too rough, she adds, take Rover to the coast and let him run his heart out while you take a few hundred deep breaths of (hopefully) clean salt air.
    In general, think of your dog as a toddler or very old senior. What is good for them is good for Django.
    Inside the house, keep the air conditioning on, says Dr. Liana Barron of All Creatures Clinic in Eagle Point. Air conditioning doesn't just cool a house or apartment; it also filters the air — and after four or five days of smoke, this is what you're after.
    Barron isn't seeing a lot more patients because of the smoke, but she is seeing more exacerbated respiratory conditions in animals that had them in the first place.
    Run the dog? No, says Barron, don't go there. But smoke does seem to decline in the calm night air, so walk the pup around the block in the evening, and that's it.
    If you have newborn kittens and pups, you should keep them inside and safe from pathogens anyway, she adds.
    "Just try to keep them inside as much as possible," says Stephen Tesluk of Ashland Veterinary Hospital. "Keep the windows and doors closed. The air is better inside. Keep the air conditioning on."
    As for farm animals, Teslu says "they are out there" in the great outdoors and there's not a lot you can do about it, even if you have them in a barn. Smoke gets in.
    John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.
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