As beloved family members, pets sometimes need extra care and attention. Just like checking the heat of the pavement before taking a dog on a walk in the summer, or taking time to choose the best cat food, it’s a good idea to check for outdoor air quality alerts in your city before taking furry friends outside.
What is an outdoor air quality alert?
An outdoor air quality alert comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and occurs when the Air Quality Index (AQI) rises above a certain level. The AQI measures the level of pollution in the air, including particles like smog, vehicle exhaust, ash, pollen and other pollutants that can be harmful to our long-term wellness.2 For example, a “code orange” on the AQI scale means that the air outside is unhealthy for sensitive groups, like the elderly or children with asthma, while a “code red” is unhealthy for all individuals. You can check your city’s daily AQI via AirNow, the EPA’s hub for air quality data. Plus, if you use the Filtrete™ Smart App, you can always view outdoor air quality from your phone.
Can poor air quality affect pets?
Yes. In fact, a recent study found that one in 10 cats have asthma related to indoor and outdoor air pollutants.¹
How can I help reduce my pets’ exposure to bad air when there’s an outdoor air quality alert or excess pollution?
Luckily, these precautions and routines can help limit your pets’ exposure to pollutants in outdoor air:
- Avoid walking pets during an outdoor air quality alert. If you do want to bring them outside, take them to a residential area away from heavily trafficked freeways or downtown areas.
- Keep windows closed during outdoor air quality alerts. This can help keep your indoor air cleaner while you wait for a lower number on the AQI.
- If you live in a rural area or near farmland, avoid taking pets outside if plants nearby have recently been treated with herbicides, insecticides or pesticides.
- Avoid using pesticides on your lawn or household plants. One study showed that dogs whose owners use pesticides on their lawn are 70% more likely to develop lymphoma.¹
- If you live in an urban area or near a highway, avoid going on walks during or immediately after rush hour, even if there isn’t an outdoor air quality alert. Vehicle exhaust and smog levels can be higher when roads are busier.
- Change your HVAC air filter often (we recommend at least every 90 days for 1” filters; and every 12 months for 4”, 5” and 6” filters). Filtrete™ Filters help capture very small particles—even those too small to see—that can enter your home through open windows and doors. If you use a Filtrete™ Smart Air Filter, you’ll get a notification when it’s time to install a new one.
- Vacuum floors frequently to help mitigate pollutants that can be brought inside on clothing and pets. Consider using a vacuum with a HEPA filter to better trap dust, pet dander and other very small particles.
- Make a habit of checking the AQI in your city before taking pets outside.
You play a crucial role in your pets’ wellness, leading to a more joyful life for them and peace of mind for you.