How to protect your pets from haze

Animals too suffer from haze-related problems. (Getty Images file photo)

Not just human beings but animals as well are feeling the ill effects of the haze in Singapore.

In a phone interview with Yahoo! Singapore, Dr Dawn Chong from The Animal Clinic said this week owners have been bringing pets to her veterinary clinic for haze-related symptoms, including respiratory problems, asthma, coughing and breathing difficulties.

She said it was likely that these pets were affected by the haze because of their clinical histories, as they did not suffer from these symptoms previously and when they stayed indoors. She estimated that around 2-3 pets out of 10 brought to the clinic were suffering from haze-related diseases.

Animal welfare group ACRES has also recently received calls from the public about sightings of dead and sick birds. While it is unable to ascertain whether haze was behind the trend, Kalai Vanan, head of animal care of ACRES, noted that birds are at high risk of haze-related illnesses because they fly at high altitudes with thinner air.

Meanwhile, Ricky Yeo, President of Action for Dogs (ASD), another animal welfare association, told Yahoo! Singapore that canines in its care were also suffering from haze-related problems. Yeo said he noticed that some of the dogs at the ASD adoption and rescue centre in Lim Chu Kang have been tearing up more than usual.

Yahoo! Singapore has gathered some information and tips from veterinarians and experts on keeping pets safe from the haze.

Dr Chong said very old and very young animals as well as breeds with shorter snouts are more susceptible to haze-related diseases.

On its Facebook page, Mount Pleasant Animal Medical Centre says that pets with heart, lung, kidney, liver, eye problems are at a greater risk of developing haze-related problems.

Dr Chong advises that if the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading goes above 100, owners should only take their dogs out for quick toilet walks and avoid taking them out for walks entirely if the reading goes above 200.

Mount Pleasant Animal Medical Centre says owners should try to turn on the air conditioner or fan where possible, change water bowls frequently and use artificial tears to aid flushing of possible eye irritants.

Meanwhile, Yeo, a consultant from ASD, suggests a simple home-made concoction for a daily-wipe down.

He advises adding two to three drops of high grade lavender oil and eucalyptus oil to a basin of water, soaking a cloth in it and using the cloth to wipe the dogs. He said owners can also use baby wipes to clean their dogs of dust particles. However, he reminds owners not to bathe their dogs too often even though many might think that it is good for their dogs. That’s because their skin will get dry from showering excessively which might result in a dry rash.

For dogs that are more susceptible to falling sick, he suggests giving them antioxidants such as vitamin C to boost their immunity.

While some animal lovers might want to protect their pets with makeshift masks such as these, Dr Chong warns that it is in fact dangerous for the pets as such masks obscure their mouths, not allowing them to dispel heat, which might lead to a heatstroke.

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