The pet owner, Andrew White, took to Twitter on Wednesday to share a photo of his dog in the handmade mask. Speaking to The Independent, White’s wife, Emily Uhde, noted that the face covering was made out of a shower cap, a round N95 respirator, and some duct tape.
In the caption of his tweet, White wrote: “Lots of smoke today in Rochester. My wife made a mask for our dog though. Kind of incredible.”
Uhde also acknowledged that her pet didn’t take issue with wearing the face covering while outside. “Siggi was comfortable in the mask; he is already muzzle trained for trips to the vet because he gets very anxious there,” she told The Independent.
She added: “He just went out for a quick walk in it yesterday when the pollution was really bad. It probably did help keep him safe since he wasn’t breathing straight smoky, polluted air with an N95 on.”
Meanwhile, many Twitter users responded to White’s tweet by sympathising with the dog and making jokes about the face covering.
“That is both the saddest and the most heart-warming thing I saw today!” one wrote, while another added: “Protect Siggi and all other pets at all costs during these conditions.”
“If Bane had a dog to make Batman jealous, it would be that dog,” a third joked, referring to a villain in the DC Comics series.
Other Twitter users also claimed that Siggi should get a more protective mask. For example, K9 Masks sells face coverings that are fit for dogs and can be used to protect them from toxic air outside.
However, masks may not be needed to keep pets safe from wildfire smoke, according to pet-sitting site Rover. The publication notes that dogs should only wear a mask in severe situations, such “as being in direct proximity to a wildfire”.
“In non-severe situations, masks may present risks that are even more dangerous than breathing poor quality air,” the publication added.
The Independent has reached out to White for comment.
Throughout this last week, a majority of the tri-state area has been blanketed by smoke caused by raging wildfires in Canada. On 7 June, New York City was ranked number one for the worst air quality in the world, with the Air Quality Index (AQI) at 342 and air pollution levels described as “hazardous”.
Officials have since advised people to limit their time outdoors and wear masks to protect themselves from the smoke. Public schools have also cancelled outdoor activities, including recess and gym classes.
With the continuous alerts about the air quality in New York, pets could be in danger of getting fine particles found in air pollutants in their lungs. This could cause a series of health problems, eye irritation or respiratory problems. Some breeds, such as pugs and bulldogs, may be especially at risk of inhaling too much smoke, according to the American Kennel Club.
With that in mind, dog owners should be on the lookout for signs of health problems due to poor air quality. Some of the symptoms include coughing or gagging, red or watery eyes, inflammation of the throat or mouth, trouble breathing, fatigue or weakness, and reduced appetite or thirst, as noted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
If owners notice these symptoms, they should call their veterinarian right away. In addition, saturating a cotton ball with lukewarm water and squeezing it over an animal’s eyes can help with irritation and flush them out.