If you live in a highly populated area, such as a city or suburb, then you are probably fairly familiar with smog alerts. You may choose not to run or exercise outside during the alert, especially if you have asthma or similar health problem. But, your dog needs his daily exercise, so what do you do? Is a smog alert harmful to him, too?

Understanding smog may help you determine whether you are at risk. Smog is most often the result of air pollution. The causes of the pollution, however, vary. For instance, the smog in Los Angeles is mostly caused by vehicle pollution. On the other hand, an area can experience high levels of smog if there is lots of smoke from a nearby wildfire. On days when the smog alert is high, smog can often be seen in the air. If you live far away from the city where vehicles never venture, then the likeliness of smog keeping you indoors is minimal!

Pets exhibit many of the same problems as humans; they can develop heart disease, glaucoma, and diabetes. Although there are few, if any, studies on the effect that smog has on animals, it is safe to say that smog affects a pet the same way it affects a human. So, how exactly does smog affect humans? It can cause a range of problems, such as coughing, wheezing, nose irritation, and throat irritation. For people who work outside, smog makes breathing more difficult, and it decreases the lung’s work capacity. Smog is especially dangerous for people with pre-existing lung conditions, people who are very active outdoors, the elderly, and children. If you live in a city, then you probably hear smog announcements along with your daily weather report. Smog is categorized and presented to the public in understandable terms. For instance, one day the smog report may be “moderate,” while the next day is “unhealthy to sensitive groups.”

Now, your indoor dog loves his daily walks. Should you take him for a walk when the smog reports are high? It is your decision, of course. However, there are a few tips you can follow. Unless your dog already suffers from lung or breathing problems, then taking him out on an “unhealthy to sensitive groups” day is probably okay. If you want to take him out no matter what the smog report says, then use additional precautions. For instance, take him out early morning or late evening when there are fewer automobiles on the road. The smog may still be high, but the side effects may decrease. When the smog is high, your outdoor activities should be shorter and less strenuous. Instead of taking him for a long jog, substitute the jog with a long walk or a short jog. Take your pooch outside and play a short game of fetch followed by another one of his favorite games. Smog does not have to be a downer; you can use a smoggy day as a chance to create a new game or revive an old favorite. And, try to save the tough workouts for clearer days.

Perhaps the smog is thick and you don’t want to be outside in it. Try not to let your pooch suffer! Instead of canceling your walk, replace it with something indoors. Whether you have a small apartment or a large home, spend time playing with your pooch. Find a toy or game that requires some sort of exercise, such as a game hide and seek. You could even go to a neighbor’s for a play date! Your pet looks forward to his routine, so try not to break it because of outdoor conditions.

Smog is a common problem that plagues cities across the country. When the smog is high, limit your outdoor exercise; shorten your walk or lighten your activity. You don’t have to stay indoors, but you should use precaution. If you or your pet has a pre-existing lung problem, then it’s not a good idea to spend time outdoors when the smog report is high. Instead, spend time indoors coming up with new games and ways to have fun! Whatever you do, don’t let your pooch miss out on the time he looks forward to spending with you.

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