This smoky air might be hurting Iowans’ pets, too

AMES — The poor air quality that’s forcing some Iowans to stay indoors this week may also be impacting our pets.

Laura Van Vertloo is a professor of small animal internal medicine at Iowa State University. She says there isn’t a lot of research on the effects of air pollution on pets, especially when it comes in short bursts like we’re experiencing now.

Still, Van Vertloo says studies show long-term exposure can impact dogs that already have — or are vulnerable to — chronic respiratory disease.

“My recommendation would be to keep them indoors as much as possible, as that allows,” she says, “and when they are outside, try to really minimize a lot of strenuous exercise.”

Van Vertloo says the environmental conditions also can affect short-nosed dog breeds, like bulldogs, which can be prone to breathing troubles.

“The chronicity is something that I’m more worried about, but we have a lot of patients that are already on the cusp of being at risk of respiratory distress,” she says, “and those are the patients that I would personally be most concerned about in this scenario.”

In addition to keeping pets indoors and limiting exercise outside, the American Veterinary Medical Association says to watch out for symptoms like coughing, eye irritation, and increased breathing rate.