JACKOSNVILLE, Fla. – With the recent wildfires in the area, Clay Humane, a nonprofit veterinary clinic in Orange Park, is reminding pet owners of proper fire safety and prevention to protect pets from smoke inhalation and anxiety. Today our air quality decreased due to the smoke- we are currently rated as Unsafe for Special Groups. Active children, the elderly, and anyone with respiratory challenges or issues should limit their time outside and exposure to smoky air. Pets often have even more sensitive noses, so it makes sense that the smoke could effect them also.
"Statistics show half a million pets are affected by smoke and 40,000 pets are killed by fires annually," said Dr. Christian Broadhurst, senior staff veterinarian at Clay Humane. "As wildfires rage in our area, take some preventative measures to help all members of your family, including the pets."
Dr. Broadhurst recommends:
1. Create a fire escape plan. Set up a meeting place and multiple routes in order to exit your house safely and quickly. Always include your pet in your evacuation plan. Pet friendly shelters in your area are identified by emergency operations coordinators as the need arises.
2. Free your home (and spaces surrounding where your outdoor pets live) of brushy areas: This will help deplete the fire sources around your home, protecting the entire family.
3. Know your pets' hiding places: The smell of smoke and sound of burning substances are scary for pets. Pet can get frightened and hide in places where they feel secure. Knowing your pets hiding places will help you find them quickly so that everyone can exit the home.
4. Create a pet emergency kit: This pet emergency kit should supply your pet with an adequate amount of food, any prescriptions your pet needs and his / her vaccine history in case you need to board your pet.
5. Decrease the amount of time your pet is outside: Avoid dog parks and long walks. Pets have a keen sense of smell, and they can smell smoke from far away and may become irritable or frightened.
6. Ensure your pet is wearing proper identification: If your pet should become upset and run away during a wildfire or any other emergency, make sure they are microchipped and wearing a tag with your current contact information to help reunite you with your pet.
"Even if you think you are out of harm's way, you should take certain preventative measures when wildfires are burning near you," said Dr. Broadhurst. "If you notice your pet gagging or coughing, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible."