On a cold winter’s day, it’s hard to beat the heat that comes from a roaring fire. Many families have fireplaces in their homes and enjoy the warmth and ambience they contribute. Still, if you share your house with pets, it is important to put some precautions in place to keep Fido and Fifi safe around open flames. Though many owners think dogs and cats are smart enough to avoid coming in close proximity to fire, many pets are drawn to its beauty and heat like a moth to a flame.
Why are Dogs and Cats Drawn to Fire?
Dogs and cats typically enjoy being close to your fireplace for the same reason you do: they like to be warm. Pets are creatures of habit, and they naturally gravitate towards lying in areas that offer them the most comfort. Over time, their spot by the fire will take on their own unique scent, and the habit of lying there will be ingrained whether a fire is blazing or not.
During their days as wild animals, dogs would regularly have to deal with inclement weather conditions. One ongoing problem the wild dog would often face is cold and wet weather. If opportunity was given to lay by a fire, the wild dog most certainly would have taken it as it provided an opportunity for the dog to remain toasty warm for a time.
But this natural desire to be close to a source of heat also offered another added benefit for dogs. In order for there to be a fire, there also had to be human companionship. Many dogs would happily laze by a fire because that is where the people were!
How Can I Keep My Dog or Cat Safe Around My Fireplace?
There are many different things that you can do to help ensure Fido and Fifi and your fireplace can all dwell together in perfect peace and safety. Here are our top tips for fireplace safety with pets:
Since we know that dogs and cats are drawn to any source of warmth, some training for your pets is necessary to ensure their safety. Dogs typically take to training more readily than their feline counterparts, but with some determination and extra yummy treats, any pet can learn a healthy respect for your fireplace.
Establishing limits as to how closely your pet can approach your fireplace is critical to preventing any accidents or injuries. One of the most effective things you can do to help your pet keep a safe distance from your fireplace is set up a comfortable bed with some interesting toys or bones in the place where you want your pet to claim as his or her own space. When your dog or cat voluntarily lays in their bed, you can then praise them and give them an exceptionally tasty treat. Over time, your dog or cat will learn that staying in their bed to play with their toys is the best place to be and is rewarded. You will eventually be able to phase out the treats and praise entirely as a habit will be established.
Keep play time to another area
Many owners prefer to allow their dogs to play and have fun in the same area where they relax and watch TV. Most often, this is the same room where the fireplace can be found. However, the more pets are allowed to play near the fireplace, the more they become desensitized to it, losing any fear of the fire. This can mean that over time overexuberant pets may run directly into harm’s way and hurt themselves.
If you enjoy your dog or cat relaxing by the fire and don’t want to change that, it may be a good idea to restrict vigorous playtime for other rooms of the house. Play a rousing game of ball in the yard, go for a nice long walk, or let your pets wrestle in a different room. Then once play time is done and your dog or cat has worn off some energy, they will be more contented to lay in their bed at a safe distance from your fireplace, happily snoozing or gnawing on a bone.
Supervision is the key to preventing accidents and injuries. Carefully observe your pets when the fireplace is going. Cats are notoriously drawn to sparks and noises coming from a fire and may take this opportunity for a closer investigation.
Create a barrier
A fireplace screen or glass door will not completely keep your dog or cat from harm from close proximity to a fire, but it can create a barrier that offers some protection. Most accidents occur as a result of a pet getting too close to sparks, heat, or flames. A screen or door will at least force the dog or cat to stand back from direct contact with your fireplace, thus reducing the overall risk substantially.
Pet gates are also a great way to keep pets back from things that may harm them. These are typically used to keep the dog or cat out of the room entirely. However, foldable exercise pens can be placed around the fireplace as well. These are designed to keep pets either inside a specific place or outside of it.
Keep the hearth area clear
Pets are often attracted to items on or near a hearth. Not only can pets hurt themselves trying to jump or climb their way to retrieve the item, these items can also become dislodged and land in the fireplace, creating a fire hazard. For best results, keep the hearth completely clean and uncluttered.
Keep a fire extinguisher on hand
Unfortunately, fireplaces can mean a fire can happen in your home. Something as simple as a spark landing on the wrong material can cause a once contained fire to start your home ablaze. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand for emergency purposes. You will want to be certain you have carefully read all of the instructions on how and when to use your fire extinguisher in case it is ever needed. When a fire is raging through your home, you don’t have time for on the job training. This advanced preparation could save your life and your pet’s.
Keep all fireplace tools safely packed away
Tools for your fireplace such as pokers, tongs, brooms, and spades can easily be walked on or tipped over and could potentially hurt your pet. In addition to this, decorative stands used for storage can also be knocked over, causing injury to your dog or cat. It is best to use a safe containment system for that cannot be tipped for storage for your fireplace tools. Other items that should be kept away from pets include:
- Starter chips or logs
Have your fireplace regularly inspected.
It is important to have your fireplace inspected regularly to ensure it is safe for use and appropriately cleaned.
Practice flue and damper safety
Prior to lighting a fire, it is essential that you check that the flue and damper are open. Lighting a fire with a closed flue and damper can cause your home to fill with carbon monoxide and kill you and your pets.
Another important safety measure includes installing carbon monoxide detectors throughout the entirety of your home. This one precaution could save your life. Once installed, you will need to regularly inspect the monitors to ensure the batteries are still functional and replace them on an as needed basis.
Yes, it is possible to enjoy a fireplace in your home with Fido or Fifi right by your side. Follow our top tips for pets and fireplace safety, and you can’t go wrong!