Your Pets Breathe Air Too


by George Rollins

The air in your house matters to you–it supplies you with oxygen, but it can also make you cough or sneeze if it rubs your nose, throat or lungs the wrong way. Your pets experience the same conditions as you but they may also sometimes have a different threshold for what qualifies as good air.

We tend to forget this but our pets can be allergic to pollen and other small particles in the air.

Many human beings are allergic to the dander and/or the saliva of cats and dogs, so making sure that your shared house has clean air is usually a win-win inter-species proposition! One key recommendation toward that end is to change your air conditioning or heating unit’s filters on a monthly basis. This is an inexpensive measure that provides tremendous returns.

If you smoke in your house, your air quality is reduced for all the animals under your roof. Clinical and empirical studies have shown that smoking damages the health of dogs, cats, mice, and rabbits. The vast majority of studies reveal that some type of correlation exists between people smoking and adverse effects on our four-legged residents. Once the threshold is crossed, however, there may not be much difference between a little smoking and a lot. Animals can also get sick from eating cigarette butts and experiencing nicotine poisoning.

Ambient air pollution can cause damage to pets’ lungs. This can be true even for whole cities with bad air due to factories or traffic. In these cases, it may be a good idea to keep your pet in a ventilated or air conditioned room for most of the day. Severe pollution can impede pets’ ability to run around and exercise, with repercussions on their health. It can also directly cause sneezing or coughing.

Sometimes you may be responsible for the pollution that is doing damage to your pet. Insecticides or strong cleaning agents can be dangerous, particularly to creatures running close to the ground who might end up absorbing a large dose.

Just a little air conditioning improves the health and comfort of our dogs; very basically, better air quality reduces the bodily strain triggered in response to the heat.

Humans and dogs often can stand a little too much humidity, but not so for cats. Dry air can sometimes cause a serious problem, by promoting a cough that won’t seem to quit. If the air in your house is too dry, it can cause your cat to cough with a sound reminiscent of trying to expel a hairball. This is a problem particularly in colder climates, and you can solve it with a humidifier.

Last but not least, the temperature of the air in your house can make a huge difference to the health and quality of the life of your pet. Your snake may be able to survive in the sunlight or the shade, but your dog can get into serious trouble trying to keep cool in a hot house. You may want to get some air conditioning for your house, or even just for your doghouse.

You may want to treat your dog (definitely NOT your cat) to any type of cool-down, such as swimming or an ice rubdown. That kind of care can counteract the emergent symptoms of heatstroke. But leaving your dog in an air-conditioned environment is probably the best way to guarantee that heatstroke will not occur in the first place.

Whatever you do, make sure to be aware of your pet and check for signs of heatstroke such as weakness and panting. If it looks like your animal has become markedly listless from the heat, do relieve them with a cold cloth and let them rest in an area where they can avoid over stimulation. And if you’re going to leave your pet alone for the day, think hard about the type of climate they’ll have to experience while you’re gone!

George Rollins is a home enthusiast for , a website that helps people find the most appropriate boiler, central air conditioner, heat pump or furnace. The site allows you to compare costs, efficiency ratings and consumer reviews. George is pleased to say that, to date, four dogs have opened their hearts to him. The feeling has been more than mutual. He prefers not to give their real names to protect their privacy.


About Author

Devoted pet owner and now, devoted pet editor, Judi spent her time working in traditional offices, keeping the books and the day-to-day operations organized. Taking her dog to work every day for over a decade never seemed odd. Neither did having an office cat. She knows what it's like to train a new puppy and she's experienced the heartache of losing beloved companions.


  1. Very good article, living in AZ the hot temperatures can be dangerous for pets. Air conditioning doesn’t always provide good circulation, so we always have several fans blowing. It seems to help. If I’m not comfortable it’s probably the same for my best friend.

  2. Nice article. There’s a lot of heat here, and I have animosity towards extreme heat. Thankfully, my dogs are fortunate enough to have an air-conditioned home along with some air cleaners spread around.

  3. I really enjoyed this post. Air quality for pets was something I had never considered until last year when one of my pet birds developed a cough that was attributed to an allergy/ environmental sensitivity. We were able to clear things up for her by making some changes to her environment which included a strict cleaning regimn for our house, our cooling system, and increased ventilation and air purification. Her symptoms have cleared up and I think we all (dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, and people) breathe a little easier for it.

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