Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Air quality testing for brachycephalic breeds like pugs and Boston terriers

Boston terrier in a dog bed
Over the weekend, the air quality in Oregon got bad. And by "bad," I mean that the air was filled with smoke from fires burning all across the state. The sun was glowing orange through a thick bank of clouds, and I couldn't see more than 1-2 houses down the street. Everything was covered in this big bank of muck, and no matter how I tried, I couldn't see through it. At one point, the air was even declared "unhealthy" by state regulators.

I have chronic allergies, so I can't tolerate air like this. And as it turns out, brachycephalic dogs like Liam and Sinead can't, either.

Sinead the Boston terrier studies her medical dictionary.
Ready for an anatomy lesson? Sinead is.
Dogs use their muzzles to clean the air they breathe. Each little sniff of air moves through passageways lined with little hairs and a great deal of mucus, and that works to trap particulates that might be inside the air dogs breathe.

Snub-nosed dogs like Liam and Sinead don't have much muzzle to work with, so they're destined to take in more particulates in the air around them. And when the air is as bad as it was over the weekend, those breaths can be deadly. Each little sharp particle of muck can lodge in their lungs, and that can trigger irritation and coughing.

After just a few minutes of outdoor potty time, both Liam and Sinead had running noses, and they both engaged in a few episodes of reverse sneezing and general coughing.  The air just hurt them, and it probably wasn't too good for the long-term health of their lungs.

Sometimes, air quality problems are easy to spot. If the air is black, there's an issue! But some air quality incidents aren't so dramatic. That's where this website can be helpful. A quick glance at this site can tell you whether the air you're breathing is safe for both you and your pets.

Boston terrier in the bright sunshine
"But I like it out here!"
So what should you do if that air quality reading is bad? Simple: Everybody needs to stay inside. If it's too warm to keep the windows closed, run an air conditioner with a HEPA filter. You'll have cool and clean air, and healthier pets.

Now, I check this website fairly frequently as a matter of course, simply because I struggle with poor air quality myself. But now that I've seen my dogs struggle with bad air, I might check the site for them, too. If we're planning to do something long and strenuous outside (like hiking or socializing), I'll want to make sure it's safe for them. The site makes it easy.

But in the interim, I'm also doing a little rain dance over here. We need those Oregon fires to go away, and we need the parched land to green up again. Come on rain!

Another reminder: Have you signed up for Lucy's cat food sweepstakes? Time is running out! Click here for details.

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