July 15th is National Pet Fire Safety Day, and it’s the pawfect time to think about how to protect your furry pal against fire. Over 1,000 homes were involved in fires started by pets in the U.S. in one year, 500,000 pets were impacted, and 40,000 of those impacted pets lost their lives. Thinking ahead and being prepared for the possibility that your dog may be involved in a fire may make the difference between a tragedy and a rescue story!
While agencies such as the American Red Cross and the American Kennel Club are great places to start preparing for a fire, we’ve gathered the top 7 tips that can help you keep your precious pooch safe when the unexpected happens. Ready to be a dog-hero?
The best way to keep your dog safe from a fire is to prevent it in the first place. Pets are notorious for upsetting candles, bumping into space heaters and chewing on power cords. To avoid starting a fire, keep these and other items that generate heat beyond your puppers’ reach.
Other puptastic measures to prevent a fire include using battery-operated flameless candles, keeping toasters and electric appliances out of reach for tall dogs, and installing smoke alarms throughout the house. Be sure to test them once a month, and have their batteries replaced twice a year.
Create an escape plan with drills that include your pupster. Train your dog to come at a recall command, and practice it so your fur-baby will always come when you call. In a similar way, work to manage their response to the sound of the alarm so they don’t hide or run away.
It’s also a puptastic idea to build an escape kit containing essentials for a few days in case you can’t return to your home right away, and be sure to add food, water, toys and other items for your pooch. Keep the phone number and address of your veterinarian handy in case there’s any injuries to your pup.
A fire that starts when you’re not at home can destroy your house and harm your fur-baby before anyone discovers it. Consider installing monitored smoke alarms that communicate with the fire department in case a fire starts when Fido is home alone. Be sure to put up a sign or window sticker to notify firefighters that there are pets inside.
If possible, restrict your pup to a room near the front door so firefighters don’t need to search far. This is especially important if they’re likely to hide from sirens and the rumble of firetrucks. Keep leashes, crates and carriers by the door so firefighters can quickly and safely remove Fido and other fur-buddies from the house.
If it’s impossible to return home right away, consider some alternative places for you and Fido to live. Check out local hotels that will accept pets, or arrange to stay with a friend or family member for the interim. Keep Fido’s collar on him, including his current tags with your contact information in case he gets loose. Having a microchip placed is a good way to ensure your pet won’t be lost if he runs, but only if you remember to register and regularly update the information on it.
And don’t forget Wag!’s boarding services! A Wag! Boarding professional will keep your dog safe for a day, or as long as you need them.
The ASPCA has many resources to help you and Fido adapt to the stages of recovery from a fire. They have connections in shelters if you aren’t able to find a place to live with your dog temporarily until you can get back into the house. They’re also adept at helping to find an escaped dog.
If you live in an area where wildfires may occur, it’s especially important to prepare for a rapid evacuation. Pack evacuation bags at the first sign of a forest fire, and either leave right away or wait for the notice to clear out. Forest fires move fast and there may not be enough time if you wait.
If Fido is exposed to fire and smoke, they may develop signs and symptoms of smoke or chemical inhalation. When a house fire is burning, many chemicals are released by the objects and materials being burned. These chemicals and smoke particles may stay in the air for a long time. Watch for the following signs of smoke inhalation in your dog and seek medical help right away if they are showing any.
- Coughing or wheezing
- Red, irritated eyes
- Lethargy and weakness
- Difficulty breathing
- Foaming at the mouth
- Burns on the body
- Singed or burned hair
- Abnormal behaviors
There’s a lot you can do to prevent and prepare for a fire, and avoid the heartbreak of losing your beloved pooch. Taking some time now to prevent a fire from happening, having an escape plan in place, and knowing how to keep your dog safe is invaluable when the unthinkable happens. After all, Fido is counting on you!