Port Coquitlam's fire crews now have pet oxygen masks that can be used on any animal that needs help breathing. 

"We do get three to five [calls] a year where we need to provide oxygen to a pet of some kind," said Port Coquitlam Fire Chief Nick Delmonico.

The masks will be mainly used to treat smoke inhalation in animals, according to Delmonico. 

"In a fire, a lot of times they are either hiding or they're left in the house. We tend to find pets quite a bit," he said. 

The Mountain View Veterinary Hospital donated four kits to the fire department on Thursday morning. Each kit comes with three masks in different sizes that will fit anything from a ferret to a large dog.

pet oxygen mask

Port Coquitlam fire crews will be able to treat pets for smoke inhalation on the scene, using pet oxygen masks like this one. (CBC)

Smoke inhalation needs to be quickly treated in animals, just like humans, according to Dr. Renee Ferguson, who donated the kits.

She said, when she sees animals that were caught in a fire, they are often in worst shape than their owners because the firefighters will treat the humans first. That's when the pet oxygen masks come in handy. 

"If [the pets] are treated at the scene, they do way better," said Ferguson. 

Ferguson and her husband have donated pet oxygen masks to several other municipalities, including Langley, Abbotsford, and Port Alberni.  

Vancouver's fire department has about 40 pet oxygen masks distributed among the city's 20 fire halls. 

Delmonico said the kits won't just help pets — they'll reduce stress for the people of Port Coquitlam, too. 

"It's a huge concern to the citizens. Their pets are like family to them — any time we can provide that kind of assistance to somebody and their pet it certainly reduces the anxiousness in the family in general."