Every year, in the United States alone, over 500,000 pets experience house fires, and 40,000 tragically lose their lives, mostly from complications due to smoke inhalation. Pet owners do not like to think about their four-legged family members experiencing an event such as a fire, but they must prepare in the event one happens.

Here are THREE easy ways pet owners can help protect their pets from a potential house fire with preparation and prevention.

Eliminate Risks

One of the best things you can do to keep your pets safe from potential fires is to reduce risk. Out of the 500,000 pets who experienced house fires, 1,000 started the fire themselves (yes, it happens).


Cats and dogs have an innate interest in open flames, which can quickly result in a candle being knocked over and harming your pet or your property. Make sure that lit candles are never unattended and, when lit, are out of the reach of your four-legged family members. You can also consider investing in flameless candles.

Extension Cords
Pets love to chew toys, but sometimes they chew on household items that are not toys. Extension cords, power cords, and chargers can spark and start fires or injure your pet if they are chewed on while plugged in. Examine your extension cords and dispose of any that are frayed or damaged. If you use extension cords around your home, reduce any excess by rolling up and tying them. If they need to be exposed, consider unplugging them when you aren’t using the items plugged into them. You can also spray the cord with bitter apple to deter your pet from chewing it.

If your pet gets too close to a fireplace or stove, they can injure themselves or damage property with little effort. If you plan to use your fireplace, make sure you have a screen heavy enough to keep your pet out, and always bring your pet with you if you are leaving the room. Never leave food unattended on your stovetops, as it becomes an easy target for curious pets. You can also consider covers for your knobs to prevent your pets from accidentally turning burners on.

Have An Emergency Plan Ready

Evacuation Plan
Every family has a fire evacuation plan, including where to exit the house, where to meet, and who is accountable for what. Pets also need to be included in this planning. When creating a fire evacuation plan, prepare every member of your household to be responsible for every pet in your home. Make special note of your pet’s favorite hiding or napping spots, and ensure that any pet carriers necessary are always easily accessible.

dog standing by front door

Evacuation Kit
Have a kit ready for all evacuation scenarios. Here’s what to include.

  • Properly labeled plastic bin
  • A flash drive with updated medical records and any specific pet care instructions
  • A copy of vaccination records and current medications
  • A copy of your ownership records, adoption paperwork, microchip paperwork, health insurance policies, and town license
  • Documentation of special needs (disabilities, behavioral problems, feeding requirements, dietary restrictions, or allergies)
  • One extra leash, collar, and harness if necessary
  • All important phone numbers, including your veterinary provider, emergency contacts, or local animal control agencies
  • Photos of you and your pet for identification
  • Food and clean water for at least three (3) days
  • Feeding and water bowls
  • Bedding or blankets
  • Toys
  • Waste bags
  • Grooming supplies
  • Cat litter
  • First aid kit (bandages, medical tape, scissors, antibiotic ointment, medical gloves, isopropyl alcohol, saline solution
  • Cleaning supplies (paper towels, trash bags, disinfectant, hand sanitizer)

This may sound like a lot, but during an emergency, you’ll be glad you have it. Don’t forget to update records and food!

Simple Home Upgrades

Monitored Smoke Detectors
Consider installing a monitored smoke detector. Monitored smoke detectors not only work as regular smoke detectors and automatically alert your local fire department if the alarm is triggered. A monitored smoke detector is the best way to ensure your pets and home are as safe as possible if a fire starts when you aren’t home.

checking smoke detector safety

Window Cling
A simple window cling can notify emergency services that your pets inside could save their lives. If the fire department is aware of how many and which type of pets you have in your home before entering, they have a substantially higher chance of getting them out. These window clings are available through your local DogWatch® Dealer.

Help Firefighters Help You
Always keep collars on your pets and have a leash near the front door. When you aren’t home, try to prevent pets from hanging out in hard-to-find places and keep them as close to the entrances of the home as possible.

After A Fire

On The Way Out
When exiting your home, be aware of any hazards such as debris or chemicals on the ground. Once you have safely evacuated your family and pets from potential danger, stay away from your home until told otherwise by emergency services. The adrenaline and panic you are feeling may also be felt by your pet. Consider a short walk to calm them down. Double-check their identification tags and make sure everything is in order. If you are unable to reenter your home after a fire, make sure you have somewhere safe to bring your pet.

Dog being checked out at vet after a fire

Vet Visit
No matter how long your pet was in the presence of fire, you’ll want to get them into your veterinary provider as soon as possible. If they spent an extended amount of time in the presence of a fire, get them to an animal hospital emergency room as soon as possible. The heat, irritants, and smoke from a fire can cause significant damage to your pet’s eyes, coat, and respiratory system. It’s best to get ahead of any potential complications that may occur.

Lasting Effects
There’s also a chance that your pet could develop post-traumatic stress disorder after a fire. If your pet seems tense or anxious about returning to the scene of the fire speak with your vet about treatment options. It may also be beneficial to have a four-legged friend help ease them back into the home.


Major emergencies can become life-altering events that are nearly impossible to predict. However, you can help prevent potential damage or danger by preparing your home and your pets for the possibility of a fire.