For many of us our pets truly are part of the family and keeping our pets safe is a top priority. Having ‘fur babies’ is a rewarding, enriching experience and keeping them out of trouble is so important to us. However, not everything is avoidable and there are times that our pets need some extra help keeping safe. In this article, we discuss safety tips and tricks for pet owners.
Facts on Pet Fire Safety
- Each year, around 500,000 pets are affected by house fire.
- An estimated of 1,000 fires are caused by pets each year.
A fire safety plan plays an important role in every household, however, pets are usually not included in these plans. Prevention is cure when it comes to fires. When you are putting preventative measures in place, think about your pets and how they may impact the situation.
Candles are great if you want to have a romantic evening with that special someone. Candles also add a special kind of ambiance to a place. However, if you have a curious pet around the house, candles can quickly become very hazardous.
In the same way humans feel a certain draw to candles, pets, especially dogs, can also become attracted to the flickering of a fire. The only difference is that in most cases, pets don’t understand the consequences that occur when a candle comes in contact with flammable material.
Therefore, it is important that pet owners do not leave candles unattended – especially when there is a pet around. A great option for increased peace of mind and safety is a flameless candle. This type of candle is pet-friendly and will not cause harm to your pet or your household.
Having a flameless candle may not give the exact beautiful ambiance a traditional candle gives, but at least it makes it safer for you to have candles around the house.
If, on the other hand, you just can’t ditch a traditional candle, be very sure that you never leave your pets unattended around open flames.
It’s important that your dog’s information is kept up-to-date just in case something happens that requires your dog’s identification. By making sure your dog has proper identification it ensures they can be easily tracked down if they ever go missing.
Usually, dogs are given identification through a microchipped ID tag. This will prove vital if your dog goes missing in action. There are several reasons why a dog may go missing but the most common is due to fire or calamity.
Most houses have their own fireplace. Pets often enjoy curling up in front of the fireplace and relaxing. As adorable as this appears, it can also be very dangerous. Having a pet that is comfortable and confident around a fire place can be a recipe for disaster. If you pet plays around the fire or gets too close to the fire it can cause the wood or coal to scatter around the house.
This does not mean that you should board up your fireplace. A possible solution to increase safety is to upgrade your current fireplace to an enclosed gas fireplace.
If upgrading your fireplace is out of the budget, it is best to never leave the fireplace unattended when in use. A common mistake that is made is leaving the fireplace in the evening until it eventually dies out. The problem with this is that your pet may become interested or move too close to the flames while the fire is left unattended and it doesn’t take much for an ember or spark to cause a house fire. A spark coming into contact with dog hair or carpet fiber may be all it takes.
Location of Dog House
Many pet owners make sure their dog is safe and warm in their very own kennel or dog house. If this is the case for your pooch, it is important that your dog’s house is clean and well-maintained. Think of dogs like humans too wherein a clean and livable place is important.
A dog house should always be clear of materials that could cause fire. It should also be freestanding and clear of any obstructions. In case of fire in the main house, the dog’s house could be a possible place for dogs to run to and seek shelter.
The location of the dog house is important, ideally it should be located close but not too close to the main house. Essentially, this would give the dog house protection in case the main house catches on fire.
A pet house is not limited to dogs only. Pet owners can also apply the same tips to other pets such as cats.
No Glass Bowls
Bowls for our pets have evolved through time. There was a time when bowls were made of simple clay. The metal bowl was introduced some years later then it was shortly followed by plastic bowls. Recently, glass bowls have also been introduced to pets.
Although having a glass bowl for your pet’s dish seems fancy, it is not necessarily the best option especially if you feed your pets in a location that has direct contact with the sun. Having a glass bowl on top of a wooden material could act as a magnifying glass for the sun’s rays. If this has direct contact to wooden or flammable materials it could easily start a fire.
This can happen all year around but the risk increases during summer where the heat index is at its peak. To avoid this kind of trouble, only use pet bowls that have been tested and approved to be safe for pets.
Secure Wires and Cords
Pets tend to be quite interested in wires and lights, this interest is particularly prevalent during the holidays of Christmas and New Year where almost every household has a lot of decorative lights on display. Having a lot of decorative lights also means that there is a lot of wires and cords scattered around the house.
Pets, especially cats and dogs, are really curious about wires and will often try to chew them. All electrical wirings and cords should be secure and kept away from your pets. Aside from damaging the wire of the electronics, there is the potential for causing great harm to both your pet and your house. If your pet chews on an electrical wire that’s plugged in to the wall it might electrocute your pet. As well as this, it could cause a short circuit and may lead to house fire.
It’s best that these electrical wires and cords are kept in a secured location that is away from your pets. A possible way to do this is to restrict your pets from going to places in the house where there are electrical wirings and cords. Another possible solution is to hide the wires and cords through proper cable management/routing. There are tons of guides on the internet on how you can cable manage wires in your home. It may cost you a few dollars but it will keep your wires safe and secure from your pets.
Whether you have pets at home or not, having a smoke detector is a must nowadays. Smoke detectors should be distributed evenly throughout your entire household and should be tested regularly.
Having smoke detectors at home might be costly and require maintenance but if you think about it, the cost and risk of your house catching fire is considerably higher than the regular maintenance and one-time installation of a smoke detector set.
The Red Cross released statistics for fire prevention and has determined that smoke alarms simply save lives. The reason behind this is that in case of fire, these alarms would sound and in most cases, will trigger the water sprinklers to shower water in the affected areas of the house. Whether you have a sprinkler system installed or not, what matters most is the smoke detector.
There are times when pets bump into things without actually meaning to, take for example a dog bumping into a burner with his paw. This simple mistake could cause major problems and could lead to a house fire.
If you have ever caught your pets in places they are not supposed to be, the chances of these pets accidentally bumping into the burner are high. It’s best that you cover your burner controls with a lid or something similar to prevent your pets from accidentally knocking them.
It’s smart that these knobs are kept covered when not in use to prevent accidents. There was one instance where a firefighter reported that a dog bumped a burner and it caused fire. Let’s try to avoid this from happening by taking the precautionary steps that have been mentioned.
Fire Safety Procedures for Pet Owners
Carrier and Leash
In the event of fire, it is vital to get everyone outside of the house as soon as possible. Your family members (except for kids) should make it out with less guidance but your pets might not be able to.
It is important that you have a carrier and leash in the house. The carrier and leash should be located along the planned escape path and needs to be reachable in case of emergencies. Pets also panic during these times which is why it is important to guide them to safety too.
Having an emergency around the house usually leads to injuries. This could take away the comfort your pets would often feel at home and could also affect their food intake. Although this is not mandatory and could fall down to the bottom of the list, it is still best to have a kit ready on hand just in case things get really uncomfortable. The kit may include some snack items in addition to the standard first-aid kit for your pet.
Fire drills shouldn’t be limited to humans only. Fire drills should also be extended to the pets you have at home. It is important that these pets be included in your family fire drill exercises.
Go through a scenario where you will find them and lead them out of the house. Take note of all open access possibilities. When exiting the house during the drill, call your pets so that they get a good idea on how it should go. Involving your dog in fire drills will help to increase the chances of them escaping unharmed during an emergency situation.
Have an Escape Plan
This normally applies to pet owners who have dogs around the house. We all know that each house is different which is why it is important to make an escape plan according to the design of your house. Do not easily trust an escape plan that is posted on the internet, first review the plans and make sure that they fit well to the design of your house.
Mark important doors and openings such as windows and list down all possibilities that could occur. Ask yourself questions; what would you do if the fire is just outside your door? What would you do if you got out through a window and your pet isn’t in the room? What is your follow up plan for this?
For more details, you should visit the National Fire Prevention Agency website to get more information on how to make a solid escape plan in case of emergencies such as fire.
Know the Hiding Spots
Whenever pets get scared or panic, they often run to a place that they consider as their hiding spot. These pets consider this spot as their safe spot whenever they feel attacked or frightened.
It is vital that as a pet owner, you know the hiding spot of your pets whenever they get scared. In emergencies, pets will most likely run to these safety spots to seek comfort and security.
In your daily routine, you may find it cute whenever your pets disappear for a short time and reemerge after, but when there are emergencies, it won’t be cute at all.
Know Your Role Well
There are more houses that have more than one resident than houses with only one person living in it. Whether you live with your family or friends, you should each have a role to play in case of any emergency that may arise.
One role that should be clearly defined is who will take care of the pets in case of emergency. That is when assigning roles come in handy. One person should be given the duty of handling the pet. If there is more than one pet in the house, have one person assigned per pet to easily facilitate evacuation. The other housemates should take care of other important things.
In worst cases where you are unable to find your pet when there is an emergency, leave an exit open and call for your pet. The National Fire Prevention Agency advises that you should never go back inside the house once you are already outside. It is advised that the door opened should be the one where the pet is most accustomed and that they typically use on a regular basis.
Allergies: Foods Pets Should Avoid
Some people are allergic to certain types of food such as seafood. Similarly, pets have certain types of food which are prohibited for them to eat.
A lot of food can cause death or illness to our pets. Pet owners should take note of these foods and should ensure they are kept far from their pets. It is recommended for owners to store these kinds of foods inside the refrigerator and make sure everyone is aware of how to properly dispose of these food items.
Anything that contains alcohol can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, tremors, breathing difficulties, coordination issues, or abnormal blood activity. This could cause your pet to go into a coma and may even lead to death.
Caffeine & Chocolate
Any caffeinated drink or food can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, hyperactivity, tremors, abnormal heart rhythms, seizure, or death to pets.
Small doses of citrus shouldn’t be much of a problem for pets. However, when ingested in large doses, it could lead to irritation and depression of the central nervous system in your pet.
Chives, Onions, and Garlic
These can cause gastrointestinal problems to your pets which will eventually lead to their red blood cells being damaged.
Coconut & Coconut Oil
Coconut contains oils that could result in your pets getting an upset stomach. This could lead to loose stools. Coconut water should never be given to pets because it contains high volumes of potassium.
Diary & Milk
Pets should not be given dairy products and milk as they are not able to properly digest these food products. This is because pets do not have a significant amount of lactase in their system. Lactase is the enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose that is commonly found in milk.
Grapes & Raisins
Due to the toxic substances that can be found in raisins and grapes, it may cause kidney failure to your pets.
All types of nuts should be kept away from your pets as they contain large amounts of fats and oils. These can cause diarrhea and vomiting.
Large quantities of salty food can cause excessive urination and thirst to pets. It can also cause sodium ion poisoning.
Undercooked or Raw Meat, Bones, and Eggs
Bacteria such as Salmonella and E. Coli are abundant in raw eggs and meats which can cause harm to pets. In addition, avidin is present in raw eggs, an enzyme that decreases absorption of biotin. This can lead to skin problems.
Pets in Rooms Around the House
The bathroom is probably the most dangerous room in the house for any pet. There are a lot of items inside the bathroom that can cause harm to your pets including; medicines, razors, and cleaning products. These products should be kept away from pets preferably in an elevated place or inside a locked cabinet. It is best to keep the bathroom door closed as much as possible in order to prevent pets from entering the bathroom altogether.
Kitchens are rarely blocked off by doors within the house, meaning pets can freely roam around the kitchen if they wish. There are a lot of food products that should not be ingested by pets so these should be stored on elevated shelves or in locked cabinet doors. You may also opt to store these products inside the refrigerator.
Living Rooms and Bedrooms
These rooms are typically the ones with the most number of electrical wirings and cords. On average, a living room has a TV, a video game console, a stereo set, and other kinds of electronics. It is important that pet owners secure these wirings properly as pets love to chew and play around with these cords. There may also be a lot of breakable items in the living room such as figurines, pots, and vases. Ensure that these items are placed in a stable location in case your pets suddenly become too energetic.
At the end of the day, it’s important that we include our pets in family planning. Having pets around the house is like having a baby. If you can’t attend to their needs, reconsider your plans on getting a pet. After all, pets are as good as humans, they too deserve and need the right care and treatment.