Helping Your Dog in Case of Fire

When a fire happens, there is very little time to respond, so being prepared ahead is important, especially if you have a dog who has difficulty moving.

Prep The House
First, keep fire extinguishers throughout the house. Consider installing smoke detectors and a security system that will automatically notify the fire department, while you focus on getting everyone out. 

All it takes is the wag of a dog’s tail to start a fire. Teach your dog to stay away from fireplaces and the stove, and avoid using candles or space heaters. Remove stove knobs if they are placed at the front of the stove where your dog might stand up and accidentally turn them on.

Emergency Bag
Keep a pet emergency medical bag and some bottled water with collapsible cups  by the door or in your car, so you will have quick access for minor fixes. Look for burns and signs of  smoke inhalation. Note any coughing, wheezing, disorientation or painful eyes that can become burned from the heat and smoke. Pets have very small lungs, so they will be affected faster than you. Have a vet check your dog as soon as possible.

Prep Your Pup
Make sure she has a microchip and a collar with up-to-date ID that includes information on necessary medications, in case she runs away in panic. 

Know in advance where your dog might hide if she is afraid, and how you can coax her out.

Keep slip rope leashes throughout the house to help guide her out to safety.  Metal clasps may get hot, so it’s better to have a slip rope leash that can be slid under her collar, with the long part drawn through the loop to tighten the leash onto the collar, while using the other loop as a handgrip. 

For dogs who can’t walk, there are devices online to lower your dog out of a window, or a harness to carry your pet on your back.  If your dog is small, teach her not to fear her crate, so she can be carried to safety and then have a place to remain safely outside during the emergency, while you talk to firefighters and police. Practice using these things with your dog so she won’t be afraid of them.

Plan and practice your exit strategy to make sure it works. If at all possible during a real event, grab a wet towel to help you breathe as you make your way out, and to help you grasp hot metal door handles. Use it to cool off your pet once you are outside.  

Prep For Firefighters
To help firefighters save your dog, get rescue alert cling stickers for your windows and doors. These stickers display the number and types of pets inside, plus your emergency contact information. They can be ordered for free through the ASPCA at or you can buy some stickers at other websites or pet stores.

If your dog is kept in a room near an exit while you are gone, firefighters can get to her quickly. 

Also, make sure your neighbors know you have pets, and ask for help in taking care of them, in case your neighbors get to the firefighters before you do.

Prep For What’s Next
Plan in advance where to go if you can’t stay in your home. Can you take your dog with you? She’s going to need to be comfortable . It could be months before you have another permanent home. You may need to locate a kennel in case she has to be boarded for any length of time.