How wildfire smoke affects animals - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

How wildfire smoke affects animals

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Air quality conditions are not only harming people but pets are also suffering.
 
Animal clinics  in Chattanooga say they're seeing an increase in visits. With all of the smoke in the air, cats and dogs are coughing, sneezing and showing signs of respiratory drainage. 

"Dogs and cats are not too much different from us," said Dr. Jamie Craven, Animal Clinic East. "They have basically the same anatomy so the same things that affect us are going to affect them." 

The thick wildfire smoke blanketing the scenic city and other parts of the valley can be harmful to your health and your pets. Just like humans, older pets or animals with preexisting respiratory conditions are more likely to get sick, especially if your dog already has restricted breathing with a shorter snout. 
Doctors say it's leading some animals to vomit.

"I actually saw two dogs that came in because the owner thought that they were sick to their stomachs and they were vomiting but what they are vomiting is a lot of this mucus being produced up in their sinuses and in their nasal passages. They are swallowing it because the smoke is causing all of this type of inflammation there," said Dr. Craven. 

For now, domestic dogs and cats should stay inside with limited outdoor exercise. Horses are sensitive too, Equine vets say they can get bronchitis or pneumonia with long term exposure. Try to clear the air around them with a fan if possible and stay vigilant. Not eating or drinking water is a red flag. 

"Anytime the owner is worried or concerned that to me is enough to at least contact your veterinarian and find out hey should I bring my pet in," said Dr. Craven. 

TWRA officials say wild animals are different because the majority of them can move out of the way. Losing habitats this winter will be a challenge for some species but there are greater benefits in the long run with new and more productive growth in the spring. Wildfire is sometimes used by the TWRA to improve habitats and give the ecosystem a fresh start. 

 "Wild animals are tough, they're strong and they can deal with it a lot better than people or domestic animals do," said wildlife biologist Tim White, TWRA. 

"Most of those wild animals are going to be able to get out of the way. What's going to happen is those areas in the spring, the fire is going to release a lot of nutrients and we are going to get a green up. It will change the habitat back to an early successional stage." 

Deer related crashes are typically highest in November because of mating season. Officials say with more animals on the move all drivers should be cautious. 
 

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