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The essentials

  • Aim for prevention —.Keep your pet away from heaters and your stovetop. Use battery-operated candles, not real ones.
  • Have a plan Map out an evacuation plan and practice it with your family, including – pets. included. Make sure the plan includes keeping a go-bag of pet supplies handy. Also, update your pet’s ID information and know where to find the closest vet and pet-friendly hotel.
  • Human safety firstIf your pet hides out of fear, don’t stay inside your home looking for them. Get everyone else out and let the firefighters know you had to leave your pet behind. Let the professionals concentrate on rescuing your dog or cat.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says pets cause nearly 1,000 house fires every year. Even the most sure-footed cat can accidentally turn on the stove, and rambunctious dogs can easily tip over a heater or lit candle. House fires affect half a million pets each year, and around 40,000 of them do not survive.

Taking steps to prevent fires and being ready for one can save lives. It can help everyone in your household, including your furry family members.

Preventing Fires at Home

If you share your home with any pet, the following tips should be part of your regular routine:

  • Keep pets off kitchen counters, especially when you’re cooking. 
  • Never leave space heaters unattended.
  • Use a metal screen and a safety gate to keep your pet at least 3 feet away from fireplaces. 
  • Cover electrical cords to protect them from any pets who like to chew on things.  
  • Replace real candles with battery-operated, flameless ones instead. 
  • Plug-in air fresheners can overheat if not replaced on time. Consider using other types of air fresheners that do not require being plugged into an outlet.

Preparing for a fire

Preparing for a fire is crucial for every household. Having a fire evacuation plan with assigned roles is key. It can save lives during an emergency. Regular fire drills help reduce panic and confusion so that everyone knows what to do if the worst happens.

Remember to include your pet in the plan by following these tips:

  • Assign tasks.: Choose someone to gather pet supplies and prepare a “go bag” for easy access.
  • Know their hiding spots.: Identify where your pet tends to hide when scared. This will help you, you can quickly find them during a fire.
  • Practice using a carrier.: Familiarize your pet with it before an evacuation to reduce stress.
  • Identification.: Make sure your pet has a collar with updated emergency contact info and a microchip for tracking. 
  • Pet alert sticker.: Put an up-to-date sticker on your door or window showing how many pets you have. You can get one for free from the ASPCA. If you leave with all your pets, remove the sticker.
  • Vet records.: Keep digital copies of your pet’s current medical records and other important documentation, including photos of your pet, to verify ownership should they go missing.
  • Animal hospital info.: Have the contact details of a nearby animal hospital readily available in case of emergencies.
  • Plan for accommodations.: Know which hotels are pet-friendly so you have someplace safe to go that will accept your entire family, cats and dogs included.

What to do during a fire

Follow your evacuation plan and focus on your safety. Remember to put your and your family’s well-being first if your pet is uncooperative. Never risk going back inside a burning house. Instead:

  • Get to safety. Don’t waste time searching. If you can’t locate your pet in their preferred hiding spot, don’t waste time searching. Get everyone else outside and call your pet from a safe distance.
  • Tell firefighters right away. They’re trained to safely search for pets and people trapped inside a burning structure.
  • Keep a leash and collar by the door. This will help firefighters get your pet outside quickly.


Prioritizing pet fire safety is essential for every pet owner. Taking in preventative measures and creating a plan helps everyone know what to do during an emergency. Prepare, stay calm, and everyone in your family can escape a fire safely.

Frequently asked questions

How can I keep my pet safe during a fire? 

Have a well-rehearsed plan in place that includes your pet. Keep some food, medications, and vet records handy to grab on your way out the door. Designate one family member per pet who rounds up your cat or dog before evacuating.

What happens to pets injured in a house fire? 

Lethargy, red eyes, and difficulty breathing may be signs they inhaled smoke. The effects of smoke exposure can even appear 6 days after the fire. Seek immediate vet care to treat current symptoms and prevent further complications. 

How can you keep your pets safe from a fire when you aren’t home? 

Use monitored smoke detectors connected to emergency responders. If a fire breaks out when you are away from your home, these detectors will automatically alert firefighters. Set up security cameras in the house to track your pets in the home. Then you can let the firefighters know where to find them.