How To Keep Your Pets Safe Around Your Fireplace

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Curling up by the fire with a good book and your furry friend may be the perfect way to spend a cold winter night, but before you do that, make sure your fireplace is safe for pets. Why is this important? Naturally, any fireplace can be a significant burn risk, especially for animals and children. According to Wag Labs, burns are painful injuries for dogs that can lead to other problems like infections, dehydration, and in severe, untreated cases, kidney failure.

Preventing burns on your cat or dog requires preparation before making the season's first fire. Four Day Fireplace recommends keeping your entire family safe while avoiding potential damage to your home by having your chimney cleaned by a professional before winter. This is also an excellent time to inspect your chimney for any damage and ensure the chimney cap is installed correctly and free of debris. Then, once your fireplace is cleared for usage, take these steps to keep your pets safe near the fire.

Use a fireplace screen

Even if you do not have pets, it is vital to have a fireplace screen in place to prevent hot embers from jumping out (via the ASPCA). Although a screen does not provide 100% protection from burns, it can help prevent dangerous accidents. For example, if you have a large fire going and the burning wood shifts, some can fall out of the fireplace onto the hearth. In this situation, your pet may be close enough to the fireplace to be injured, or you may be unable to stop them from running over to investigate the problem.

To find the right size fireplace screen for your home, measure the width and height of your fireplace accurately. Then, select a barrier that's about 10 inches wider than your fireplace and just a bit taller. By choosing a screen slightly larger than the opening to your fireplace, you can catch any wayward embers that can potentially burn your furry companions.

Place pet bedding properly

Everyone enjoys the warmth of a fire on a chilly night, but having a bed too near a fireplace is not only a fire hazard, but can be dangerous for your pet. For instance, if your dog has a long fluffy tail, a bed too close to the fireplace may lead to severe burns. Keep your pets cozy and safe by placing their sleeping area no closer to the fireplace than where you sit, according to Morris Animal Inn. Since furniture should never be placed closer than 3 feet from your fireplace, according to Mobler Modern Furniture, neither should your pet's bed.

To help your animal sleep safely near your fireplace, consider buying a fire-resistant bed. CeCes Wool suggests wool bedding as it is naturally fire-resistant without requiring chemical-based fire retardants. While your cat or dog should never be near the fireplace unattended, this option can give you extra peace of mind if they like to move their bed around.

Train your pets

Training is crucial for keeping animals safe around fireplaces. If your curious critter ventures near the fire, you should be prepared to use verbal warnings to keep them away. If you are like many of us and have particularly stubborn pets, a quick squirt from a water bottle should stop them. If all else fails, consider using a scent-based deterrent around the perimeter of the fireplace to keep them from getting too close. You can use a spray like this product on carpets around the hearth to keep your furry friends from getting too close, but be sure to test it on an inconspicuous area first.

Additionally, never play near a fireplace or even in the same room where the fire is roaring. If your dog decides it is time to play, take them to another room or outside to get their wiggles out. A toy thrown too close to the fireplace can catch on fire, and it's unconscionable to think of what could happen if your pup dives too close to the fire for a catch. Be safe and take playtime elsewhere.

Avoid dangly decor on the mantle

Every cat owner knows kitties love to chase bright, shiny objects or anything that dangles. Remove the temptation for your cat to accidentally hurt itself by keeping all tantalizing objects off your mantle. Garlands, lights, and even stockings can be tempting for an energetic cat to tackle. We know, keeping stockings off the mantle is a lot to ask. In this situation, you know your cat best. This may not be an issue for old, calm cats, but if you have a young kitten who wreaks havoc on your Christmas tree or anything that moves, consider placing those tempting objects somewhere else.

Not only can your kitty get hurt, but recommends keeping all light objects off the fireplace in the event that your cat jumps on the mantle. You know how cats are; they love to knock items off surfaces, and they do it quickly. So in the blink of an eye, the cat can be on the mantle knocking your favorite Christmas decor into the fire below. But, again, you know your cat, so decorate accordingly.

Keep a fire extinguisher handy

Whether you have pets or not, keeping a fire extinguisher near your fireplace is essential. Your best effort to keep your pets and any dangerous materials away from your fireplace does not guarantee that a fire will not break out in your home. Since fires can spread in a matter of minutes, quick access to a fire extinguisher can be the difference between replacing your carpet and a far more devastating outcome. Always store your fire extinguishers with the label facing out so the instructions are immediately visible. Also, make sure everyone in the home knows how to use it.

You should replace fire extinguishers in good condition about every 10 years unless otherwise indicated on the label. However, if the item shows any damage, like missing seals or a faulty handle, or if it has been used, replace it immediately. The date your fire extinguisher was manufactured is on the label, so check every year to see if it is time for a replacement.