In the cold and windy months, there is nothing better than gathering around the blazing fire under a blanket to keep extra toasty.
It’s much better when we can spend that time with the whole family, including our furrier family members. In front of the hearth can be the best place to spend an evening, but it can sometimes be a dangerous place to be as well.
Here are some tips for making sure your pet is safe and happy in front of the fireplace.
It comes across as such obvious advice, but keeping an eye on your pet and the fire is important. You don’t have to watch both the entire night, but making sure that your pet doesn’t try and lay too close to the hearth, or that they don’t step on any embers that might have been spit from the fireplace can help them keep safe.
Some pets might like to lay in front of the fire, and be too relaxed and warm to move when they are overheating, so keep an eye on them and try to bring them away from the heat when you notice they are getting hot. Calling them over to you for some fuss instead of lying there, or convincing them to go get a drink might be enough of a break to cool them down a little.
Even contained wood burner fireplaces can be a problem, just as much as open flame fires. The doors and body of the fireplace can get hot, and don’t have as many as the natural evidence of fire. Pets can instinctively tell that an open flame could be dangerous, but a closed fireplace disguises its danger. When your pet moves around the living room, make sure they don’t brush up against the fireplace by accident and that they’re safely distanced from where the contained fireplace gets most hot.
There are plenty of fireplace covers available online that build a physical barrier between pet and fireplace. There are many ways of doing that, whether they come out around the fireplace making a large rectangle of space around the fireplace, or the stay flat across the front of the mantel to make it look a little tidier in the room.
You might want to purchase a baby gate instead as they might be a little cheaper than a decorative fireplace cover, and you won’t have to fight with it as much to light the fire if it is fitted well into the walls of the mantel.
It might be worth doubling up with a flatter and more protruding fireplace cover to double up the protection as a particularly persistent pet might manage to break their way in behind them.
No Playing Next to Fireplaces
Even while the fire is not lit it is incredibly important to avoid playing too close to the fireplace with your pet. Playing too much around the area might make your pet associate that space with playtime, and they might start playing too close to it while playing by themselves. Keeping playtime away from the fireplace all the time will make sure your pet won’t associate that space with fun time.
While playing fetch with your pet try to avoid the fire as much as possible, try keeping the toys as far away from the fire as possible. Make sure it won’t bounce too much out of your control, so it can’t go near the fireplace after you’ve thrown it.
If you’re playing with a cat feather toy, make sure that there is lots of space between playtime and the fireplace. Since your cat will likely jump and slide about chasing the feather, which without caution can bring your pet too close to the fireplace again.
All games and play time should be played with caution if the fire is on, even if they don’t normally bring your pet too close to the fireplace, as any amount of excitable behaviour can become dangerous at the drop of a hat.
Keep The Fireplace Clean and Tidy
Try not to allow the area to get too dirty with dropped wood bits, lumps of firelighter, or even bits of ash that have fallen out of the fireplace. Your pets might be intrigued by the bits of dirt and bat or play with them, which will again bring them too close to the fireplace. Cleaning up any dirt as you spot it will prevent this as much as possible
Before you light the fire, make sure that there are no toys or treats around the area or underneath a contained fireplace that might entice your pet close. Spotting their favourite toys in a dark corner, or sniffing out the scent of a tasty treat heating up might be too much temptation for your pet!
In December in particular, it might be tempting to decorate the mantel with garland or decorations, try to avoid this. Anything that dangles or catches the light of the fire might intrigue your pets and make them want to play with it, again bringing them too close to potential danger. Keeping the area clear of anything enticing will prevent any accidental damage and burning.
It could be worth trying to train your pet to learn certain behaviours and rituals to avoid the fire at certain times. If your pet likes to climb on your lap as soon as you kneel down by the fireside, perhaps try to train them to sit elsewhere when the fireplace doors open. If your pet likes to sit on the hearth when they feel a little chilly, perhaps try and train them to snuggle up to humans to share some warmth, or a blanket.
If your pet has the habit of laying for too long in front of the fire, try training them to move away to get a drink as they start to get hot, or to spend equal amount of time by the fire and relaxing somewhere else comfortable.
If your pet always likes to lay in bed, bringing their bed close enough to the fireplace that they feel the heat, but far enough away that they won’t get hurt or overheat, it will train them to stay out of the way of the fire for too long. Any way of training your pet to avoid the fireplace will be helpful.
While these tips will all help to avoid your pet hurting themselves with the fire, the most important thing to remember is the first point. Keep an eye on pet and fireplace, making sure that they won’t accidentally brush up against them or overheat.