With the ruff air quality, pet parents in the Big Apple are taking extra precautions to keep their fur babies safe as the northern wildfires persist.
New Yorker Paige Chernick is the owner of a 10-year-old Bichon poodle named Charlie, a “petfluencer” with more than 131,000 followers on Instagram.
“I bought these reusable dog filter masks on Amazon at the beginning of the pandemic when everything was still unknown and I thought my dogs may need extra protection,” Chernick, who experienced “elevated asthma symptoms” herself, told The Post.
“I kept them in a safe place since then, and when the air quality in New York was dangerous from the terrible smoke this week, I knew it was the perfect time to use them!” she added.
Luckily, Charlie has not experienced any symptoms related to the smoke — save for being more “restless” due to less time spent outdoors.
But Chernick isn’t the only dog mama concerned for her pooch’s health.
Online, worried pet owners have masked up their furry friends in DIY protection in a valiant attempt to shield their Fidos’ little lungs.
On Wednesday, the air quality index reached a startling 343 as a thick blanket of smoke from the Canadian wildfires choked NYC, turning the sky an apocalyptic orange.
Exposure to polluted air can result in coughing, sneezing or irritated eyes in dogs, and some may even experience more serious symptoms including confusion, seizures, shortness of breath, weakness, vomiting or loss of appetite.
Boston terriers, pugs and bulldogs are at an increased risk for health complications due to the smoke, experts say, and pet owners are advised to keep a close eye on their pets, limit outdoor exposure, use air conditioning and hydrate their pups.
However, veterinarian Debra Zoran told Vox that masking up your pups isn’t necessarily beneficial.
“If it’s tight enough to keep particulates from getting around it, they’re not going to go for it because they can’t pant,” the Texas A&M University professor said.
“Their nasal passages and respiratory trees are amazingly resilient to removing those particulates, as long as they’re well hydrated. If the airways get dehydrated, they can’t do their jobs as well,” she added.
Siggi, a 6-year-old great Dane and border collie mix, has been kept inside as much as possible, breathing easy with his family’s air purifiers at his home in Rochester.
But on Wednesday, when the air quality reached its worst all week, Siggi’s owner, Emily Uhde, 36, still witnessed pets on walks without protection.
“That made me wonder if there was a way that you could get a dog to even wear a mask, so I spent the rest of the drive coming up with ideas for a dog mask,” the software engineer told The Post. “It had to be something they wouldn’t bite at or paw off right away.”
In an impressive feat of engineering, she constructed an improvised snout covering for Siggi that was made from common household items: an N95, a shower cap and some duct tape.
“I just cut a hole in the middle of the shower cap and taped it to the edges of the mask. The shower cap elastic allowed me to place it right over his muzzle,” she explained.
While silly-looking, it gave her dog an extra layer of protection from the dense smog.
New Yorker Monica Bass, the proud parent of her 1-year-old dog Bailey, had the same idea.
With concerns about potential “respiratory issues” for her beloved pet, she also modified a KN95 for Bailey, tying it around her ears.
“I mainly decided to put it on because I suffer from asthma and know how detrimental events like this can be on my health which led me to think how much of an impact something so seemingly small makes on a dog whose lungs are so much smaller and more sensitive,” the 26-year-old told The Post.
But in a video posted to TikTok, it was clear the picky pup, who has not experienced any smoke-related symptoms, was not a fan of the ill-fitting makeshift muzzle.
Bass added: “I know I definitely looked quite crazy and got plenty of judgment when I stepped onto the streets of New York City with a dog in a face mask far too big for her little face!”