We take many steps to take care of our four-legged loved ones. Part of this care should also include the air they breathe. As more and more people become aware of the impacts that air quality can have on our own health, we naturally become more in tune with how air quality can also impact our pets.
In honor of annual National Love Your Pet Day we want to answer the question, "How can I make sure that the air my pets breathe is as healthy as the food and water I provide them?" We’ve compiled a list of our top tips to keep your pets breathing healthy air as well as ways you can monitor your air quality and keep your home’s air clean and fresh for your whole family. (Want to read later? Download as a PDF)
Common Causes of Unhealthy Air
There are many factors that can negatively impact air quality. Local pollution, pollen, wildfire smoke, dust, and more all have an impact on our air. Seasonal and temporary changes in weather patterns which increase winds and push air particles hundreds of miles across the country can also significantly impact local air conditions.
Pollen and Allergens
Dogs and cats can alsosuffer alongside their humans when being exposed to high pollen counts throughout the year. According to Rosemary Jean-Louis, of the Georgia Public Broadcasting organization, “Unlike humans, dogs and cats won’t sneeze or cough excessively when they are allergic to pollen. They lick, bite and scratch themselves a lot. That’s because pollen falls on their fur, ears and the pads on their paws. The pollen is then absorbed into the skin through those areas. Allergic dogs and cats try to soothe themselves by licking, chewing and scratching those affected areas. Too much of this can lead to hair loss, scabbing and ear infections.”
Monitoring pollen for your whole family can be done easily and conveniently, helping to prepare for and cope with allergies that affect our pets and ourselves. Helpful websites like Pollen.com have active trackers which allow you to monitor conditions nationwide as well as provide the ability to examine pollen counts on a regional and local level as well. By tracking pollen counts, coupled with observing your pet’s reactionary habits, you can begin to determine if your pet is suffering from allergic reactions to particles in the air. Allergy trackers can also help you decide when it is best to take your pets outside.
In an interview with Petcha.com, Jamie Wolf , founder of Rescue Rehab Rehome, a dog rehabilitation and rescue center, explained “Getting your dog out into the sun is important because it’s the best source of Vitamin D for your pet, but spending too much time outdoors in poor air quality conditions can be a serious hazard for your dog. Many older dogs have unidentified breathing problems that can be magnified during periods of poor air quality.”
“This is a very important issue that pet owner’s need to be educated on. Poor air quality conditions strike nationwide for a variety of reasons and almost any pet can be affected by them."
During the 2018 and 2020 wildfires that ravaged areas of the western United States, smoke was not only tracked by satellites and meteorological organizations but could even be seen with the naked eye as far away as New York City and Boston, causing grey skies and dramatic sunrises and sunsets.
We already know that wildfire smoke can be a major health concern for people, but we must also consider how it affects our pets. Just like us, our pets eyes, throats, and lungs can become significantly irritated by wildfire smoke, with continued exposure leading to serious health concerns. Because our pets can’t just tell us when they are suffering from poor air quality, it is important that we are extra mindful of them when dealing with wildfire smoke.
The National Weather Service has a range of free tools which the public can access to view the movement of smoke and allergens in addition to standard weather maps. Two helpful tools for smoke from wildfires are the “ vertically integrated smoke” map which displays smoke far above the Earth’s surface (pictured below”}, as well as the “ near-surface smoke” map which indicates levels of smoke closer to the surface which has a direct impact on air quality. If your area is being impacted by wildfire smoke, you should be extra cautious and considerate when deciding to take or leave your pets outside.
6 Tips to Improve Air Quality for Your Pets (and Yourself!)
Now that you know some great ways to monitor your air conditions and stay ahead of air quality issues which may affect your pet’s health, what can you do to help them live happier, healthier lives? Here are our top tips to keep your fur babies breathing clean, pure air, as well as yourself, so you can both live long happy lives. (Want to read later? Download as a PDF)
1. Pay Attention to Your Breathing
Chances are if you’re suffering from air quality issues, feeling uncomfortable outdoors, or are experiencing negative health impacts from changes in air quality, your pet is experiencing it to an even higher degree, due to their heightened senses and sensitivity. By taking an active lead in changes to how you feel and how well you can breathe, both indoors and outdoors, you can ensure your pet is also breathing well too. For instance, if you are experiencing a reaction to outdoor air quality, don’t leave your pet outside longer than is necessary.
2. Keep Pets Active
A healthy, fit, and active pet will not only be happier overall, but will naturally develop and stronger immune system and capable cardiovascular and respiratory system, as well as be capable of coping with temporarily negative conditions, when compared to a pet already in poor health. Plus, we all enjoy playing with our furry friends, so it’s a win-win for everybody! Being active with your pets will also help you to be better at gauging the environmental air quality, something that we learned from tip #1.
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3. Monitor Small Pets Closely
Smaller pets, much like small children and the elderly, can be especially susceptible to changes in air quality. Small pets have tiny lungs that will struggle even harder when air quality is poor. Watch small dogs and cats for changes to their health and behavior during times of poor air quality and limit their times outdoors, especially when smoke from wildfires is especially bad. If your small pet appears to be struggling to breathe, you should bring them inside and work on improving your indoor air quality.
4. Give Pets Hypo-Allergenic Baths
“Anybody who doesn’t know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.” Said popular humorist, Franklin P. Jones. Allergens like pollen and pollutants like smoke can get stuck in your pet’s hair or fur. Dirty fur and hair can affect your pet’s respiratory system and result in coughing, licking, biting, and scratching.
When bathing your fur baby, use a pet-specific hypo-allergenic shampoo paired with a leave-in conditioner. Like humans, these specialty products can alleviate itchy skin and rashes, improve skin and hair health, and generally make your pet feel much more comfortable day to day, relieving them of many negative impacts of pollens and allergens.
5. Feed Pets Allergy Supplements
Each pet is different and special. Be sure to check with your veterinarian before changing your pets diet or adding supplements to it. With their blessing, consider giving your pet fish oil caplets or oil. Naturally full of omega-3- fatty acids, they have a similar effect on pets as they do on humans, decreasing inflammation as well as the reaction to many allergens.
For even more health benefits, look for food brands that contain added omega’s and explain why fatty acids are key to good brain development and healthy fur and skin. You should also be mindful of the food that your pets eat, as many pet foods are packed with unhealthy fillers or products that can trigger allergies. Low quality pet food can lead to stomach and skin irritation, making it harder to know if your pet is suffering from poor air quality.
6. Utilize an Air Purifier
The addition of an air purifier to your home can have amazing effects on the air your pets breathe as well as the air the rest of the family breathes too. While the bedroom and living room may seem like obvious choices for an air purifier, consider placing an air purifier where your pets spend most of their indoor time. If your pets have their own room or a room where they usually eat and sleep, an air purifier can aid in removing allergens, dust, pet dander, and other pollutants from the air. This will not only help your pet breathe better and feel more comfortable but will certainly help you breathe better and stay healthier as well.
Choosing the Right Air Filter
Knowing that you’re purifying the air for your pets is a heartwarming feeling. While making this choice is great, you also need to ensure you’ve picked out the appropriate air filter. Our recommendation for rooms where pets will be spending a significant amount of time is the OdorCell filter. Our OdorCell filters combine three layers of filter technology to purify the air in your home while neutralizing heavy odors at a molecular level, in addition to all the other benefits such as cleansing the air of pollen, dust, and pet dander.
Selecting a Purifier
Deciding on an air purifier, or an entire whole-home solution, consisting of multiple air purifiers, can seem like a daunting task. Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Our team of clean air experts can walk you through the process, step-by-step, ensuring you pair the perfect purifier and filter, with each and every space in your home. Clean air is all we do. We want to do it for you, and your pets.
Our True HEPA (H13) medical-grade filtration captures 99.99% of harmful particles down to 0.1 microns—including allergens, dust, mold, bacteria, aerosolized viruses, and more. To learn more, just use our chat function to speak with one of our experts, or begin browsing our selection of high-quality air purifiers today!