California Fires Impacting Air Quality For Horses; Vet Clinic Offers Tips For Owners Affected

The Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center released the following advisory via its Facebook page mid-afternoon on Thursday, Dec. 14 regarding the Thomas Fire. The Thomas wildfire is burning between Santa Barbara and Ventura and is at 252,000 acres and 35 percent containment as of Friday, midday Eastern Time.

Our office has been receiving numerous calls related to horse health and exercise restrictions in relation to the air quality issues due to the Thomas Fire. The air quality in the Valley has been fluctuating not only daily, though also by time of day as well. The best source for accurate up to date air quality assessment for the Santa Ynez Valley and the surrounding regions through out Santa Barbara County can be found at the following link: www.ourair.org.

Currently (12/14/17, 2:30 PM), the Santa Ynez Valley has been experiencing poor air quality related to small particulate matter (< 2.5 microns in diameter). It is recommended at this time to not exercise horses until this air quality significantly improves and returns to more normal “green” conditions.

Other recommendations to help the overall respiratory health of your horse at this time would be to lightly water down any dusty paddocks/feed to reduce airborne allergens and to provide your horse ample water to help maintain hydration and moisture within their respiratory tract. Most healthy horses should be able to tolerate the poor air quality with exercise restriction, however, if you have a horse with a previous history of respiratory disease (inflammatory airway disease, pneumonia, etc.), it is recommended to closely monitor these horses for any signs of respiratory distress (elevated respiratory rate, flared nostrils, nasal discharge, cough, or abnormal behavior). If any of these signs occur, please consult with your veterinarian immediately.

Please use common sense and keep the safety of not only yourself, but your horse in mind when deciding to ride/exercise during these times of poor air quality. Hopefully, the weather patterns will shift and Southern California will receive some desperately needed rain.

Also please keep the 8,000 plus fire personnel, first responders, and those who have been directly affected by these horrendous fires in your thoughts and prayers!

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