Jacksonville, Ore. — With wildfire season nearly upon us, some dog owners may want to protect their pets from possible smoke inhalation.
Some companies are marketing canine masks, meant to filter out toxins and ash. The masks appear to fit like a muzzle around the dog's snout, and are meant to be used temporarily, or in a crisis.
Dr. Tami Rogers with Jacksonville Veterinary Hospital said most dogs will likely not tolerate a mask being strapped to their face and may try to remove it, much like they would a muzzle. Therefore, in stressful situations, like active wildfires nearby, masking may cause more anxiety for your pet.
Dr. Rogers said that to properly filter out ash, the masks would need to be similar to the N-95 masks humans use to avoid inhaling those same toxins, and she would recommend using the masks only in case of extreme exposure.
Another concern Dr. Rogers has is that one of the major ways dogs dissipate the heat from their bodies is by panting.
"I'm very hesitant to say that I would recommend the use of a mask like that, that it would be beneficial for dogs or that they would tolerate it," Dr. Rogers said. "The major ways that dogs use to dissipate heat is by panting, so the dog that's out on the trail needs their tongue exposed and out, their mouth open."
An improper fit of the mask could cause the dog to overheat, creating a potentially risky situation.
Some of the mask manufacturers' website's do address this concern, recommending users remove the mask after 10 to 30 minutes and check their dog's breathing. They also recommend consulting a veterinarian before using their product.
If you are considering purchasing a mask like this, Dr. Rogers recommends you first go through a testing period to make sure your pet will tolerate it before putting it on in an emergency.