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Having Trouble Breathing? So Are Your Animals

Photo by Dr. John Madigan

Hayley Dieckmann is part of a team of UC Davis veterinarians and vet school students helping animals affected by the fire.

Photo by Dr. John Madigan

The smokey air that hangs over wildfire zones and the surrounding counties can make humans hack and heave, especially during physical activity. Animals are no different.

Many animals in Sonoma and Napa counties were evacuated when the blazes began Sunday night. Some livestock were left behind and are now in need of food and water.

Dr. John Madigan and his team from the UC Davis veterinary school were in Santa Rosa Wednesday looking for animals suffering from smoke inhalation.

"They’re out there, and there’s veterinarians in the field treating them," he says, "And then if we see anything here, we have the ability to treat or transport back to the veterinary school, where we have a system to receive animals during the fire."
The UC Davis veterinary hospital took in two llamas and two horses from the fire area who were suffering from burns and smoke inhalation. One of the llamas was so severely wounded that he had to be put down.
Staff there are ready to take in any exotic animals, small animals, horses or livestock that may be affected by the fire, says Dr. Steven Epstein, chair of the school's disaster response committee. 
"We've kind of prepared to receive any sort of cases that veterinarians in the area will need us too, that might be sicker or need some sort of hospitalization," he says.
Even animals miles away from the fire zone can experience respiratory distress from the smokey air. Dr. Keith Rode of Woodland Veterinary Hospital suggests pet owners keep dogs, cats and other animals inside when they see or smell wildfire smoke.
"Other than for the necessary things, going out to do their business and for short walks," he says, "The air quality is bad enough currently that going out for a run, which a dog may do on a day to day basis, probably isn't a good idea when it's like this outside."
Multiple bay area rescue groups are calling for volunteers and donations. Find out how to help here.

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