Fact: People who are regularly exposed to poor air quality are at greater risk for developing a host of health problems, from cardiovascular disease to respiratory illness. But did you know that air pollution is also dangerous for your furry, four-legged friends?
Sad but true: Recent studies confirmed that respiratory illness in dogs is associated with poor indoor air quality. Specifically, dogs that lived in homes where incense were regularly burned were more likely to suffer from respiratory illness.
Another study—this one conducted in Mexico City, where air pollution is heavy—found that the brains of dogs exposed to the area’s poor air quality negatively impacted their brains. Specifically, their brains showed:
Amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, which are proteins that serve as a marker for Alzheimer’s Disease and human beings
Cats are no better off than their canine counterparts. Several recent studies have exposed and explained the dangers of air pollution—indoor and outdoor—on feline health.
According to recent studies, one in 10 cats suffers from asthma as a result of indoor and outdoor air pollution. Those studies also indicate that:
Cats exposed to elevated levels of particulate matter were more likely to suffer from respiratory illness.
Cats exposed to passive smoke in their home environment had reduced lung function when compared to those that lived in smoke-free homes.
Cats who live with owners who smoke or burn wood fires are more likely to have a severe decrease in lung function.
Knowing the risks associated with poor air quality is only half the battle: Here’s what you can do to protect your pet (and really, your whole family) from air pollution. When it comes to indoor air pollution, you can:
Regularly change the air filter in your home
Vacuum regularly to remove indoor air pollutants (as well as pet hair)
Avoid smoking indoors
Refrain from starting wood fires in your home
Select pet- and environment-friendly cleaning products
How do you protect your dogs and cats from outdoor air pollution? You can start by:
Keep your pet indoors on days where air quality is poor
Avoid walking your pets in high-traffic areas where they will be exposed to exhaust and other air pollution
Do your part to be a clean air ambassador—decrease your carbon footprint by carpooling, riding your bike or the bus, or make a difference by joining GASP.