A dog sitting outside of a burned structure surrounded by wood and debris.

Six Steps to Protect Your Pets from Fire

Do dogs know what fire is? Do cats know that fire is dangerous? Considering the sheer number of house fires started by pets every year, we think the answer to both questions is likely “No!” So to keep pets safe from fire, we recommend a little extra caution.

While pet fire safety is a year-round concern for pet owners, it becomes an even greater issue during summer months. Wildfires, lightning, outdoor grilling and children playing with fire outdoors are common causes of fires during late spring and summer. Since we’re at the beginning of fire season in North America, here are six tips to prepare for the unexpected and help protect your pets.

#1. Prevent what you can for pet fire safety

Did you know pets can actually be the cause of a house fire? According to the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 700 house fires each year are accidentally started by the homeowner’s pet or a wild animal. While fires aren’t always preventable, you can take steps to ensure fire prevention.

  • Keep curious pets away from candles, gas stoves, grills and fireplaces. An open flame can be fascinating to dogs and cats, who are drawn to the flickering motion. It also can be devastating if your pet knocks a lit candle over. Not only could your pet be burned, but it could start a house fire.
  • Make sure your home has working, monitored smoke detectors.
  • Do not use glass water bowls on wooden decks. The sun’s rays are magnified when they pass through water and glass, and they can heat and even ignite the wood the bowl sits on.
  • Make sure your pet cannot chew electrical cords.
  • If your pet is a counter surfer or jumper, all pet parents should consider ways to install pet-proof stove knobs to keep pets safe.

#2. Have a pet fire safety plan

Safety experts recommend you have a fire preparedness plan for your family, because you may have only a couple of minutes to leave. That escape plan should consider cat and dog fire safety as well. To reduce your escape time from a burning house, identify two exits and keep extra leashes or cat carriers near them. And always evacuate your pets on a leash or in a carrier. Dogs and cats may panic when they smell smoke and run away once outside, making them difficult to find.

#3. Be sure your pets are identified

In case you and your pet are separated, make sure they are microchipped or wearing a collar with identification tags. Put “Pets Live Here!” signs in the windows so that firefighters know who to look for.

#4. Pack a pet disaster kit

A pet emergency kit that you store in your car, a separate shed or unattached garage will be valuable in case you need to evacuate your home. It’s a vital part of pet fire safety! It should include:

  • Veterinary medical records and medications
  • Food and bottled water
  • Leashes, harnesses or carriers for safe transportation
  • Current photos in case your pet becomes lost
  • Bowls, cat litter and box, and can opener
  • Plastic bags and paper towels to clean up pet waste
  • Emergency contact numbers
  • Toys and pet beds

#5. Know where pets hide

Do you know where your pet likes to hide when they are scared? If not, now would be a good time to learn. Should your cat or dog become scared, knowing where to look can help you get them out safely.

#6. Use pet alert window stickers

Put a sticker in a front window or near your home’s door that alerts first responders to the pets living in your home. The sticker tells firefighters how many and what kind of pets you have. Just be aware that your local fire department may ignore the sticker as a matter of policy, since their first priority is saving human lives. But, depending on the situation and if you’re not home when a fire occurs, these stickers are a vital part of pet fire safety; they might just save your pets’ lives.

A Fire Safety Plan Just Makes Sense

You can help ensure that all family members — even the four-legged ones — will be safe in the event of a house fire with just a little planning and preparation. And with the National Fire Protection Association National Pet Fire Safety Day taking place every July 15, consider celebrating the day with some practice fire drills or checking all of your smoke detectors.

For more information about pet fire safety, visit the National Fire Prevention Association’s pet page. Or click here for more info about preparing for a natural disaster.

The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.


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