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How should you prepare your pets in smoky weather?

Should this dog be outside when the weather is "smoky" for the forseeable future? Doctors say that the answer is the same for humans.

With air quality across the state being measured as some level of "unhealthy" -- at least -- the common practice is to avoid breathing in outside air.

That means no exercising outside, and avoiding strenuous activities inside; closing all the doors and windows, and using an air filter or air-conditioning system to filter the air; and generally limiting the time spent outdoors if you can help it.

So what does a pet do in the midst of a wildfire "smoke storm" that prevents going outside?

The truth is, though many animals have the ability to survive in the wild, that doesn't make them suddenly immune to hazardous conditions like air quality.

"Advisories meant to caution people to avoid heavy work or exercise outdoors and to remain indoors as much as possible, also should be applied to our pets," Dr. Robert Dyke, a member of the veterinary faculty at Washington State University, said in a blog post for the school last year.

"Mammals lungs are all very similar, and some in other species like birds are extremely sensitive to particulates in the air."

That means that pet owners should be paying close attention to the air quality in their area, as well as the forecast; if an animal must be walked or exercised, it's best to do it during a time of day when smoke and dust are as settled as can be -- something that's hard to find in a smoke storm like the one that descended upon Western Washington on Sunday.

If air quality dips too low, to "unhealthy" rather than just "unhealthy for sensitive groups," a quick outing in the yard might be best. And intensive exercise should definitely be avoided wherever possible.

Most animals struggle in the same way that humans do with smoke inhalation. Symptoms your pet may exhibit include: coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, difficulty breathing, lethargy or unusual quietness, and refusing food or water.

And while some animals might be more susceptible to air quality issues -- dogs with shorter noses like pugs, or birds -- it's important that all animals avoid the bad air, just like humans.

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