Western North Carolina has been experiencing very dry conditions this fall, and the widespread forest fires that have occurred this November have led to significant problems with air quality and smoke in some areas. Many people are experiencing irritation in their eyes, nose, and lungs, and dogs and cats are susceptible to the same symptoms. For this reason, you should apply the same outdoor activity restrictions that are being recommended for people to your pet. If your pet is healthy, then you can probably assume that if a walk is comfortable for you, it is for your pet too. Use special caution during times of poor air quality when exercising elderly pets, overweight pets or brachycephalic breeds (Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers, Pekingese and other short-nosed breeds). If your pet has existing allergies, respiratory problems, or dry eye, keep them indoors except to eliminate until the air quality improves. Pets that normally spend the majority of their time outside should be brought indoors if there is visible smoke or a strong smell of smoke. If you leave your pet outdoors while you are not at home, smoke levels could become dangerous before you get back so it is best to keep your pet indoors.