How To Keep Your Dogs Safe During Wildfire

how to keep your dogs safe during wildfire

Smoked air is equally harmful to animals as it is to humans. In 2020, the wildfire in Australia killed almost 480 million animals.

The adverse effects on health range anything from respiratory disorders to allergies and conjunctival irritation.

Pets who usually stay at home are exposed to outside smoke for their bathroom breaks and that too without wearing any mask– like we humans do.

Though pets are usually at a safe distance from wildfire, the threat of air pollution is still there which is a silent killer and responsible for approximately 6.7 million deaths worldwide each year.

We often don’t realize that our pets are as much affected as we are as they have the same organ systems as ours. Thus, they are highly vulnerable to air pollution, particularly those who lie in the high-risk category.

Dog in wildfire
Dog stuck in Wildfire

So, if you are wondering how to keep your dogs safe during wildfire, you are at the right place because in this article you will learn different ways to protect your pet,

You will also get to know about how wildfire affects dogs, what signs to look for, and much more, Keep reading!

How To Keep Your Dogs Safe During Wildfire

If you feel the effects of smoke, so does your dog and they can be similarly affected by wildfire smoke. But how to keep your dogs safe during wildfires?

How To Keep Your Dogs Safe During Wildfire

That’s the question that might bother you especially if your dog is susceptible to developing some health condition. 

For example, if they have any lung or heart disease, it puts them at high risk and therefore, you must take extra care of them during the whole period of poor air quality.

Below are some of the signs I have mentioned, and if you observe any of these in your dog, call your vet right away:

  • Coughing or choking.
  • Red or watery eyes, nasal discharge, throat or tongue inflammation, or aversion to hard foods.
  • Breathing difficulties, such as open-mouth breathing, increased noise when breathing, or rapid breathing.
  • Weakness or fatigue, confusion, uneven walking, stumbling.
  • Appetite or thirst reduction.

Even if there is no fire danger, high levels of smoke put you and your pet’s life in danger and you will have to stay indoors for a long time or might have to evacuate.

Since your pets are an important part of your family, they must be included in the emergency plan of your family. Here are some ways you can keep your dogs safe during a wildfire:

Make a Plan

Having a plan prior to any emergency will prevent you from added stress and challenges when making decisions. If you are asked to leave by local officials, that means your pet should leave too and leaving them behind may lead to injuries, loss, or even worse.

How To Keep Your Dogs Safe During Wildfire 2

These are the things that you should include in your plan:

  • Make an evacuation plan for your pets:  You should plan for  a suitable place to take your pet before a disaster occurs as some shelters and hotels don’t allow the entry of dogs.

Therefore, it is necessary for you to make prior plans for the safety of your dog.

  • Ask friends for help: Plan with your buddies if they are ready to help you evacuate  during the emergency or if they are available to take care of your pet if you are not able to do so.
  • Make sure your pet is microchipped. Maintain an up-to-date address and phone number, as well as contact information for an emergency contact outside of your residential area.
  • Being in contact with your animal shelter or local emergency management office will help you get more information about how to keep your dogs safe during wildfires. They will help you out specifically if you have no idea about what emergency steps you have to take.
  •  Be ready to evacuate: You must include your pets in the plan and get each of them permanently identified via a microchip. You should know where to take them in case of evacuation. You must have an idea of their hiding place which will save you a lot of time looking for them in an emergency. If you have to leave your dog behind, never tie them up.

Prepare a Kit for Your Pet

For preparing a kit, consider the basic survival content like food and water– just like you prepare an emergency supply kit for your family.

You should make 2 kits, one larger and one smaller. Use the larger one if you are sheltering in a place the smaller one if you have to evacuate at once.

Keep monitoring each kit to check whether its contents are in place and food and medicines are fresh.

These are some of the items that you must keep in your pet’s emergency kit:

  • Food. Store food for many days in an airtight, waterproof container.
  • Water. Keep a water bowl and a few days’ supply of water.
  • Medicine. Keep an additional supply of your pet’s normal medication in a waterproof container.
  • First-aid supplies. Consult your veterinarian about what is best for your pet’s emergency medical needs.
  • A collar with an ID badge and a harness or leash are required. Include a spare leash, collar, and identification tag. Keep duplicates of your pet’s registration documents and other important paperwork in a waterproof container and make them electronically accessible.
  • Each pet should have their own travel bag, crate, or solid carrier.
  • Items for grooming. Pet shampoo, conditioner, and other cleaning supplies if your pet needs them.
  • Sanitation requirements. To meet your pet’s sanitary needs, include pet litter and litter box, newspapers, paper towels, plastic garbage bags, and chlorine bleach.
  • A photograph of you and your pet. If you get separated from your pet during an emergency, a photograph of you and your pet together will assist you in documenting ownership and allowing others to assist you in identifying your pet.
  • Items that are familiar. Fill your kit with favorite toys, treats, or bedding.
  • Favorite toys and snacks, as well as an extra blanket or familiar bedding

Once you have prepared the evacuation kit, assemble the kit at a place which is close to the exit point in a waterproof container that is easy to carry.

Stay Informed

Another important thing that will save you time and effort is staying informed of the ongoing situation. Here are some ways to keep yourself informed:

  • Keep an eye out for local alerts and instructions given by state and local public safety officials via wireless alerts for emergencies.
  • When advised to evacuate or shelter in place, follow local officials.
  • Download the FEMA app to receive National Weather Service weather notifications for up to five different areas across the United States.

To ensure the safety of your pet, adjust your plans accordingly and take all the necessary steps.

Avoid Outdoor Activities– Create a Safe Indoor Space

To prevent any stressful impact on your pet, try to bring them indoors as soon as you get to know about the first sign of the disaster.

Limit their outdoor exposure and keep them inside as much as possible particularly during the period of heavy smoke. 

Keep the windows and doors closed and make the indoor air quality better by using filters or air purifiers.

Make a safe and clean spot in your home for your pets to retreat to. Circulate and filter the air via fans or air conditioning.

I’d recommend introducing mind games into your indoor plan. I can keep my 11lb mini poodle entertained for 15-20 minutes and wear him out.

Fill a towel with snacks, roll it up, and tie it in a knot. Allow them to attempt to untie the knot to get the rewards. If your dog gets it too quickly, tie it tighter.

Focus on stay and recall. Place your dog in a dark corner or on their dog bed, then go hide on the opposite side of the flat. 

Call your dog to you and reward them when they come to you. I hide in closets, behind bedroom doors, and beneath mattresses, to name a few places. 

Keep Your Pets Hydrated

The smoky air is excessively dry and can dry out mucous membranes at once. It will adversely affect the mucous lining of the respiratory tract, making your dog feel parched and dehydrated.

For this, make sure your pet is taking enough water, and keeping them hydrated should be on your priority list.

Is Wildfire Smoke Hazards Bad For Dogs

According to some experts, inhaling smoke-filled air the whole day is equal to smoking seven cigarettes per day. The findings are for humans while puppies, senior dogs, bulldogs, and pugs are at high risk of inhaling too much smoke.

dog stuck in wildfire

How Does Wildfire Smoke Endanger Pets?

Pets who are exposed to heavy wildfire smoke can face severe health consequences. Some of the possible effects your dog can have are:

  1. Respiratory Issues: Inhaling wildfire smoke can lead to respiratory disorders in pets. The smoke contains microscopic particles that upon inhalation cause shortness of breath, cough, wheezing and difficulty breathing. The pets who are already allergic, asthmatic, or have other respiratory conditions make them more vulnerable.
  2. Cardiovascular disorders: Carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and hazardous air pollutants are all found in wildfire smoke. These pollutants have the potential to enter the bloodstream and raise the risk of cardiovascular disorders such as heart attacks, strokes, and heart disease.
  3. Irritation of Eyes and Nose: Smoke can lead to irritation of eyes and nose which in some cases become very severe and complicated. Generally, it presents with sneezing, discharge, redness, and watery eyes.
  4. Worsening of Existing Conditions: Pets who already suffer from respiratory conditions, can experience exacerbation of the overall symptoms when exposed to smoke. It can lead to anything from difficulty breathing to increased coughing.
  5. Allergic Reactions: There are many allergens present in smoke like mold spores, pollens etc. Those pets who are already allergic, experience increased allergic reactions which include, itching, rash, hives, and irritation.
  6. Anxiety: The evacuation process that comes with wildfires causes an overall change in daily routine which proves to be highly stressful for pets. The stress decreases their immunity and makes them more susceptible to other health conditions.
  7. Long-Term Effects: If your pet has prolonged exposure to wildfire smoke, it can lead to long-term complications including respiratory infection, chronic respiratory disorders, and lung dysfunction.

More negative health consequences can result from direct heat and smoke exposure. The skin, coat, eyes, oral cavity, and respiratory system can all result from thermal burns. 

Hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) can result from the loss of normal functional capacity in traumatized pulmonary (lung) tissue. Clinical symptoms of an oxygen deficit include fatigue, ataxia (stumbling), syncope (fainting), and even death.

By reducing outside activities, keeping windows closed, using air conditioning, and other preventative measures, you can lessen the likelihood that your pet will be exposed to allergy triggers from wildfires and other health effects.

Remember that the health effects of wildfire smoke can vary based on factors such as the duration and intensity of exposure, the health status of that particular pet, and the specific pollutants present in the smoke. 

Taking preventative actions to avoid exposure and obtaining veterinary care as needed will help protect your pets’ health during wildfires.

Here are some preventive measures you can take to keep your dog’s life safe:

  • Buy high-efficiency filters to capture tiny particles from smoke, whether you have a central air conditioning system or a room unit.
  • Consider using a portable air cleaner to create a clean room in your home. •Keep pets indoors as much as possible when there is smoke present, with doors and windows closed. Bring outside pets into a well-ventilated place, such as a utility room, garage, or bathroom. Remove potentially dangerous items, such as insecticides, from pets’ reach.
  • Maintain clean indoor air by avoiding frying or broiling foods, vacuuming, burning candles, using a fireplace or woodstove, or smoking tobacco products. These activities cause particles to accumulate in your home. 
  • When it is smokey, spend less time outside and restrict strenuous activities. For example, going for a run with your pet when it’s smoky is not a good idea. Allow dogs and cats outside for brief bathroom breaks only if there are air quality alerts in effect.

Is your Dog Seen in wildfire smoke?

Wildfire smoke has some effects on vision. This is particularly true if the exposure is extensive, which causes visual changes in dogs.

The smoke could worsen your conjunctival inflammatory response and cause conjunctival scarring. Trichiasis is a common eyelid disorder in which your eyelashes grow back towards your eye, touching the conjunctiva or cornea.

Smoke particles, in reality, are minute foreign particles in your eyes. They dissolve in your tears and cover the surface of your eye, causing discomfort and inflammation.

Irritated eyes cause burning, stinging, teary, and red eyes. Particles in wildfire smoke can cause allergic reactions in your dog’s eyes and skin.

Continuous exposure to smoke can lead to dryness of eyes. The tears are made up of proteins, lipids and water. For the proper vision, a balance is needed of these components and smoke disrupts this balance leading ro watering, redness and other such symptoms.

The water part of the tears gets evaporated by the gasses present in the smoke. It therefore changes the composition of tears

Also, the toxins present in the wildfire can lead to increased protein production which consequently causes dryness of eye.

When the dryness becomes severe, it damages the corneal surface leading to impaired visual acuity.

Is Wildfire Smoke Hazards Bad For Dogs

How Wildfire Smoke Is Dangerous to Health

The composition of wildfire smoke varies based on factors such as the type of plant burning, the weather, and the distance from the fire. Here are some of the compounds typically present in wildfire smoke that might be harmful to one’s health:

  • Particulate Matter: Fine particles produced by wildfire smoke are known as PM2.5 (particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less) and PM10 (particulate matter with a diameter of 10 micrometers or less). These particles have the ability to penetrate deep into the respiratory system, causing respiratory problems, exacerbating existing lung disorders, and contributing to cardiovascular issues.
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons: PAHs are a class of compounds produced by incomplete combustion of organic materials such as vegetation. They are known to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing) and damaging to the respiratory system and can be detected in high amounts in wildfire smoke.
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas created during the combustion of organic matter. High quantities of carbon monoxide inhalation can cause headaches, dizziness, and reduced cognitive function. Individuals with pre-existing heart disorders are especially vulnerable.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): VOCs are compounds that are produced when various materials, including plants, are burned. They can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, produce headaches and dizziness, and contribute to the development of ground-level ozone.
  • Nitrogen Oxides (NOx): Nitrogen oxides are gasses created when high-temperature fuels are burned. They can contribute to ground-level ozone production and have respiratory and cardiovascular effects.
  • Formaldehyde: A VOC identified in wildfire smoke is formaldehyde. It is a known respiratory irritant as well as a possible carcinogen.

There are several factors that influence the health effects of wildfire smoke which include:

  • Duration of exposure
  • Concentration of pollutants
  • Individual susceptibility
  • Pre-existing health conditions

Signs and Symptoms

The signs you may observe in your dog when they are exposed to wildfire smoke include:

  • Stinging eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Burning eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Temporary blurry vision
  • Grittiness (feeling of having dirt or some particle in the eye)
  • Eye allergies


Will dogs avoid fire?

Just like humans, dogs feel burning sensation and heat and therefore are aware to not go near the fire. That disturbing sensation can also be felt by dogs and if they are too close to the fire, many dogs become overheated or uncomfortable.

Why are dogs scared of fire?

Young dogs usually don’t fear fire much. But if your dog had a previous traumatic experience of fire, they might easily get scared of it.

Do dogs like to sleep by the fire?

Yes, because the warmth and comfort they feel near the fireplace make them sleepy. They will keep on laying until they start panting and feel overheated.

Can a dog survive a house fire?

Carbon monoxide, smoke inhalation and burns can equally harm dogs as they do humans during a house fire. So the chances of surviving a house fire from a dog are the same as that of humans.

Can dogs smell smoke and fire?

Dogs have a strong smelling sense and therefore they can smell smoke and fire very early and even try to inform their owners about it.

What are signs of smoke inhalation in dogs?

1. Coughing
2. Gagging.
3. Salivation or drooling.
4. Hyperventilation
5. Difficulty breathing 
6. Panting, Vocalisation.
7. Cyanosis
8. Excess tear production.

Are dogs scared of fire alarms?

Since the fire alarm produces a high-pitched sound, it makes them terrified. So, yes dogs get terrified by the fire alarms. They are triggered by the orienting response which induces anxiety in them which is the mechanism of the brain of being aware.


The wildfire smoke in an area puts both humans and pets at high risk of being displaced and breathing a high amount of smoke air.

The dogs are affected by the wildfire smoke as similarly as we humans do. But how to keep your dogs safe during wildfires is the real concern here.

Taking into account all the potential effects the smoke has on dogs like respiratory and cardiovascular disorders, allergic reactions, and eye complications, it becomes evident how crucial it is to keep our pets safe in this condition.

Taking all the preventive measures and following some techniques will remove the added pressure and stress. It will help you keep your dogs safe during this disastrous condition.

Don’t be stressed out if your area is close to wildfires– just follow the above-given tips and keep your family, pets, and yourself safe.


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