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Camping with your dog can be an enjoyable experience if done so safely. Your dog can even sit around the campfire with you. Just be aware of bonfire safety and signs of smoke inhalation the next time you enjoy a fire with your dog.

Can Dogs Be Near a Campfire?

Healthy dogs can be near a campfire with certain precautions. Make sure that once the fire is burning, your dog is a safe distance away and is sitting upwind so flames and ashes can’t reach them. Make sure your dog has access to fresh water and cannot access the fire pit.

Monitor your dog for signs of agitation. If your dog doesn’t enjoy being near the fire, don’t force it! Many dogs prefer to sit farther away or to relax inside.

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Some dogs, such as puppies, senior dogs, and brachycephalic dogs, may be more easily irritated by fire and smoke and are best kept inside or far away from the fire.

Signs of Smoke-Inhalation in Dogs From Campfires

A good rule of thumb when sitting around a fire with your dog is to pay attention to how you feel. If the smoke is irritating you, it is most likely irritating your dog.

Call your veterinarian right away if your dog exhibits any of the following symptoms:

  • Wheezing or loud breathing
  • Fatigue or disorientation
  • Coughing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Reduced appetite
  • Reduced thirst
  • Red eyes, excessive tearing or blinking, or pawing at eyes (indicate cornea trauma)

Reasons Why Dogs Might be Scared of Bonfires

Some dogs just don’t like fire or smoke, and that is perfectly natural! Here are a few additional reasons your dog may be fearful around a bonfire:

  • Heat. Have you ever stood a little too close to the fire? Dogs can experience that uncomfortable sensation as well. Many dogs get overheated or uncomfortable if they are too close to the fire.
  • They descended from wolves. Wolves are naturally afraid of fire because it is associated with destroying their habitat.
  • Fires are unpredictable. The crackling sounds can be unsettling for dogs, especially those who are afraid of loud noises like fireworks and thunder

Bonfire Safety Tips

  • Make sure your dog stays away from the fire pit even long after the fire has gone out. Embers can remain below piles of soot that your dog may try to roll in. Avoid your dog getting burnt, stepping in glass, or getting covered in soot.
  • Microchip and ID your dog before camping. It’s always best to be prepared in case your dog makes an accidental escape.
  • Talk to your veterinarian if your dog’s behavior seems off.
Related article: Hazardous Cookout Foods for Dogs
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