The Oregon State University Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine is providing veterinary care to animals affected by the Oregon wildfires. To best utilize our resources, we are focusing our care on:

  • Ambulatory animal welfare checks/treatment in the field at the local evacuation sites: Benton County Events Center and Fairgrounds, Linn County Expo Center and Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center. Visits to the Benton and Linn County locations are being conducted on a daily schedule. Visits to the state fairgrounds are on an ad hoc basis.  
  • Inpatient emergency services for small and large animal fire victims (e.g., burn wounds, inhalation injury). Please call 541-737-4812 for emergency services.
  • Consultation related to small animal burn and smoke inhalation emergency and critical care. Tandi Ngwenyama, D.V.M. ACVECC, is available for consultation. She can be reached at 541-737-9836 or tandi.ngwenyama@oregonstate.edu.

More than 110 CCVM veterinarians, technicians, staff and students have volunteered to provide care. Financial assistance is available for treatment of injuries and illnesses sustained due to wildfire.

 

GIVE TO THE WILDFIRE RESPONSE

Your gift will be used for the treatment and care of animals affected by the wildfires through the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine Dean's Fund for Disaster Response. Thank you for helping animals affected by the wildfires. Your generosity supports our community’s recovery. These donations could also be used in the future for any emergencies or disasters that may occur where our veterinarians play a critical role in helping our animals and environment. 

Animal First Aid and Care

What to do: Run under cold water for at least 20 minutes. Evidence suggests that this can reduce pain and edema, reduce the depth of the burn, decrease the overall inflammatory response, improve the speed of wound healing and minimize scarring.

Pain management should be a priority: Treating pain early and aggressively has been shown to prevent psychological trauma and even to improve healing. A multimodal analgesic approach is recommended. 

What not to do: Treat with ice. Ice causes severe vasoconstriction and can even deepen the burn. 

Similar to humans, smoke exposure can have negative effects on animal health. Monitoring air quality with sites like airnow.gov, can help you make decisions about when to bring animals indoors, transport them, let them out or even potentially allow light exercise like walks. Owners should also remain cognizant of their own exposure to poor quality air during animal care activities.

Signs of smoke inhalation
  • Mild signs: coughing, snorting or sneezing with mild nasal discharge that is typically clear or may contain dust can occur even after short exposure. Animals will remain lively with normal behavior and appetite and no fever.
  • Severe signs: coughing, nasal discharge that is thick, cloudy, yellow or otherwise discolored, open mouth breathing or increased effort or rate of breathing, fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite can be seen.

Animals exposed to thick smoke and direct fire situations can develop severe thermal injury to their airways which can cause life threatening respiratory distress — animals in these situations should be monitored closely for signs of disease and veterinary assistance should be accessed. Animals with pre-existing problems such as asthma may also have disease signs exacerbated by poor air quality and may need veterinary attention to adjust medication regimens.

Steps to reduce air quality impact and provide respiratory support
  • If possible, bring animals inside into better quality air. This can be challenging particularly for livestock and horses but the barn may be better than outdoors, and box fans can be modified to form crude ventilation and filter systems. 
  • Avoid exercising animals in poor air quality conditions. Exercise can greatly enhance the amount of air moving through the respiratory tract and increases exposure to harmful.
  • For dogs and cats, use indoor play and distractions if possible to try to reduce boredom and stress from confinement.
  • For livestock and horses, reducing dust sources by moistening hay, watering yards and arenas, cleaning stalls when animals are absent and avoiding dusty bedding such as straw is important. Watering pastures in areas with ash accumulation can also help. Ideally, if pasture is a food source and obviously ash contaminated, supplemental feeding with hay is advisable, largely because the pasture may have reduced palatability.
  • Ensure clean water is provided daily and monitored for ash and other contamination.
Additional management steps
  • It may be appropriate to have respiratory vaccines up to date if animals are likely to enter a commingling situation in evacuation settings; this determination should be made with your veterinarian.
  • Nebulization is being used by some horse owners. It is important to recognize that many substances can be harmful when administered by this route, and sharing equipment between animals can propagate the spread of infectious disease. The decision to nebulize should be made in concert with your veterinarian, and it is most likely to be useful in horses with clinical signs of severe respiratory disease. The likelihood of benefit to otherwise healthy horses is low, and risks are present. Also, a study of sustained wildfire smoke inhalation in Canada in 2018 showed no benefit to systemic corticosteroid treatment in horses; the most important aspect for improvement in respiratory function was improvement in air quality.
  • Be aware that during periods of sustained confinement with limited exercise, many animals will likely need adjustments to their diet to avoid rapid weight gain, and they will also lose athletic fitness. When they return to exercise once air quality improves, gradual adjustments to their exercise and diet should be made to help them adapt appropriately.
  • Horses returning to exercise that seem healthy may require at least two weeks of rest or more to allow respiratory healing, those that have had evidence of respiratory disease as a result of smoke exposure might require four to six weeks of healing time. All horses should have a careful return to exercise over time. Some horses may show chronic respiratory signs of an asthma-like condition after sustained smoke exposure — seek veterinary advice if abnormalities such as persistent coughing at rest or during work, persistent nasal discharge, or unexpected exercise intolerance are seen.

Media contact: Jens Odegaard, Director of Marketing and Communications, jens.odegaard@oregonstate.edu or 541-737-3844.