The haze hasn’t been pleasant for anyone, struggling with difficulties in breathing, breaking out skin and painful eyes. Even one’s pets are affected by the poor air quality and need help to find relief.
There are ways you can help ease your pets’ difficulties brought on by the haze. It’s important, first of all, to keep a close watch on them for any irregularities in breathing, nasal discharge or teary eyes. At first sign of any of these symptoms, take your pet to the vet right away.
While all pets can be affected by the haze, Dr. Jaipal Singh Gill, executive director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Singapore said that “smaller animals are at greater risk of smoke inhalation due to their smaller lung capacity”.
Keep an eye on smaller pets, such as hamsters, rabbits or birds, and of course make sure your cats and dogs are safe and healthy as well.
Minimise their exposure to the haze
During the haze period, keep your pets indoors as much as possible. While some may need daily exercise or to use the bathroom outdoors, make sure to keep their exposure as brief as possible, and immediately return them to a safe and clean environment at home.
Help them beat the heat
Your pets need to keep cool to prevent overheating and heat stress. Have a fan at the ready or be willing to turn on the air conditioner when the situation calls for it. Your pet’s body temperature should remain balanced and cool so that they don’t feel uncomfortable.
It’s important to set a good, cool environment for your pet if you have to leave them at home without you. You could turn on the air conditioner for them or point a fan in their direction. Just make sure they will not be locked in without good air flow.
Check on their breathing
Veterinarian Dr. Denise Ng from Light of Life Veterinary Clinic and Services advises pet owners to keep a close eye on their pets’ respiration.
“During this time, the dust and smoke your pets inhale can cause inflammation in their respiratory system,” she said. “Even mild inflammation will cause their mucus and saliva to thicken.”
When this happens, pets’ breathing becomes difficult and they are not able to regulate their body heat properly, which will cause them to pant or breathe harder. The harder they breathe, the more smoke or ash they will inhale.
Keep them hydrated
Check on your pet’s water supply—they should have access to a lot of clean, clear water, preferably of a cooler temperature. During hazy periods, keeping your furry members of the family hydrated is key to keeping them in good health and properly hydrated.
Before you take your pet out, whether for a quick walk or a longer trip, give them a drink of cool water. Always bring water for them on the trip, and offer them a fresh drink after you’ve returned back home. Some pets are intrigued by ice cubes in the water, so adding a few (not too cold!) to their water bowls might encourage them to drink more often.
For smaller-sized pets like guinea pigs, rabbits and hamsters, Dr. Ng advised giving them half-frozen water bottles, which will slowly melt and provide our littler pets with cool drinking water. Providing cold pieces of fruit to pets like birds could also help keep them from getting dehydrated.
Don’t put masks or muzzles on your pet
Some animals use their breathing to pant and regulate their body heat. Putting a muzzle on your pet during the hazy days is a no-no as the muzzle could obstruct the pet’s breathing. And while masks may help humans keep the bad effects of the smoky air away, masks should not be used on animals.
If you’ve got an air purifier at home, turn it on, so that you and your pet have cleaner air to breathe.
Tend to their coats
Animals can get distressed if their fur is dry, dusty or dirty. Cats will spend a lot of time cleaning themselves, and with the smoky and dusty air, kitty’s (or doggy’s) coat won’t be as clean as it normally is.
You can help your pet along by wiping their fur with animal- and baby-safe baby wipes or a damp cloth. Don’t over bathe your dog just because of the haze as it could dry out its skin and cause a rash.
Pay special attention to older or sick pets
Senior pets, or those who are sick, especially with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions, should receive special attention. Pets with low immune systems could be susceptible to more problems brought on by the haze.
Make sure you contact the pet’s veterinarian and ask them if your pet needs any particular treatment during the haze period.
The SPCA published an Instagram post on the subject of pet care during the haze period, where they covered different points, like those discussed in this article. Following their tips will help pet owners keep their little furry or feathered friends safe.