All dog owners want to do their best for their loyal, loving canine friends. That includes looking after their physical comfort as part of their overall health and well-being. Whether your dog is under the weather or needs a helping hand with staying warm in cooler conditions, sometimes his usual sleeping places just aren’t sufficient. Many dog parents, therefore, consider buying heated dog pads for their pets.
But what are the advantages and features of a heated dog pad? Are they safe overall, and what should you be looking for before you buy one? In this article, we look at all these issues and more.
First, here’s our round-up of the best heated dog pads on the market.
Best Heated Dog Pads Buying Guide & FAQ
Whether you’re not sure if your pet would benefit from a heating pad or are wondering which is the best dog heating pad for your own requirements, the information below should help guide you to make your decision.
Factors to Consider When Buying Heated Dog Pads
So that you are not wasting your money, there are a number of factors you should take into account when purchasing a heated dog mat. Initially, make sure the options you are choosing from have good, informative product descriptions so you can check all these out. If you’re buying from a retailer like Amazon, it’s also well worth reading through the reviews and customer questions and answers. Information from genuine past customers can really help inform your decision.
But the main factors you should consider include the following:
- The size of your dog – you don’t want his limbs hanging over the edge or resting on the cool floor below; otherwise the heated element may well be futile.
- The way he or she sleeps: does your dog typically stretch out on their side or sleep curled up into a ball?
- Whether the bed pad will be used indoors or outdoors. This can be a safety issue, as a dog heating pad outdoor will need to be guaranteed safe if it gets wet. It’s also a relevant factor in terms of how the dog bed can be cleaned, as outdoor beds will undoubtedly suffer more if exposed to the elements.
- Whether you want one that uses electric or relies on thermo-reflective materials to warm your dog. An electrical pet warming pad can be an ongoing expense, although many use minimal amounts of power. But it’s also an issue in terms of safety, so where you’ll place the bed; whether there’s easy access to a power supply; and whether your dog is one that likes to chew cables and soft furnishings will also be important in your decision-making.
- How easy it is to wash. All dog beds will look tired and dirty from time to time. To get the most for your money – and to ensure the bed stays cozy and clean for your pet’s comfort – you need to know you can wash it from time to time.
- What is your budget for the purchase? Inevitably, we’re all on a budget of some sort. The key factor to remember here, though, is that as with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Cheaper beds may not stand the rigors of daily use, so it could be worth investing in a more expensive model from the outset as this may be more durable and offer better value for money over the longer term.
- The look of the bed. While your dog probably won’t care what color the bed is, it can be important to the house proud owner! If the heated dog bed you’re buying is going to sit in the living room or bedroom of your home for the duration, you’ll probably want to make sure it doesn’t clash terribly with your décor. It’s a small point when compared with your dog’s comfort, but worth bearing in mind.
Benefits of Using Heated Dog Pads
Here, we consider the advantages and what to look for when choosing the best heated dog mat for your pet.
Q: Why does my dog need a heated dog pad?
A: We all love our canine friends, and many of us spoil them without apology. But buying a heated dog pad for your pet may seem to be pampering above and beyond the call of duty! However, there are various reasons why dogs may need a little extra help with keeping warm.
Firstly, dogs have a higher body temperature than people. Their average stands at 101 – 102.5oF (38.3 to 39.2oC) compared to a typical body temperature of a human: 98.6oF (37oC). So although they may have a fur coat to keep them warm, they can be just as susceptible to cooler temperatures as their human owners.
Perhaps you live in an area where winters are especially cold, or your dog spends a lot of time sleeping outdoors, whether through necessity or choice. In these cases, a heated dog bed can give you reassurance that your pet will stay warm, even when the temperatures drop.
If you don’t like your pet sleeping on your bed at night when the central heating or other heating is off, then a heated dog pad can help you ensure that your dog will stay warm after dark. They can also be a great incentive to owners who are trying to keep their dogs off the furniture at any time of the day or night!
If you own a smaller breed of dog, or have a young puppy, whether healthy or ailing, then a small heated dog mat could help keep them snug and warm, safe from chills. Dogs with short haired coats can also be particularly vulnerable to cold temperatures.
Additionally, older dogs might need a helping hand. As with humans, heat therapy can ease sore and aching joints and prove to be a positive boon for dogs suffering from arthritis or rheumatism, day or night. You should notice an improvement in your dog’s mobility when he wakes up from a nap on a heated dog bed.
Q: What are the signs of hypothermia in dogs?
A: It can be hard to tell if your dog is too cold. Their temperature might drop for any number of reasons, from shock to infection, as a result of the external temperatures or through consuming something toxic. But if your dog’s temperature falls below 99oF (37.2oC), then he or she is at risk of hypothermia. Symptoms you might see include shivering, stiffness, lethargy and generally being less active than usual.
Q: Could my dog overheat on his heated dog pad?
A: Pets, like humans, know when they’re feeling too hot or too cold. Provided your dog has the freedom to choose where he wants to be, he’ll use the dog pad when he’s cold and move away from it if he gets too warm. Just be aware if you’re using the heat pad in a confined space, like a crate, for instance, it’s best not to position this next to a radiator, fire or other heat source.
Q: Are heated dog pads machine washable?
A: Not all heated dog pads will be machine washable. It’s important to read the product descriptions very carefully before you part with any money, particularly if you are looking for washable dog beds. Commonly, the cover itself will be removable and this can be thrown in the washing machine. The heating pad itself should be able to be wiped down with a damp washcloth.
Q: Are heated dog pads safe?
A: Do you have a dog with a penchant for chewing? If so, and you know they make a beeline for electrical cables, then it’s worth thinking twice about buying a unit that incorporates an electrical heating pad. For these canines, a self-warming bed that reflects the dog’s own body temperature back will probably be the better choice.
If generally speaking you can trust your dog around the electrics in your home and they have a need for a heated dog pad, then the electrical options are ideal.
So what safety features should you look for? First, choose a reputable supplier of animal accessories. Ensure the pad is specially designed for pets and not humans, because there are different safety standards involved. Pets don’t understand how to use electricity safely, so you’re looking for something that will allow them to act naturally without putting them at risk. Also, as noted above, animals’ body temperatures differ from humans, so a heat pad that may be suitable for the latter could be too warm for the former.
- Make sure the pad you choose includes a thermostat.
- Look for one that describes its cable as being chew-proof. Some manufacturers cover the cable where it enters the mat with a strong, durable plastic or metal coating or cover that is resistant to even the sharpest teeth or the most persistent of gnawers.
- Opt for a low voltage unit. Additionally, look for reassurances that the mat has been rigorously tested and found to be safe. MAT, for instance
- Fire retardant material is also an invaluable safety feature. This ensures that any material lying close to the heating element will prove resistant to sparks or ignition if something should go wrong.
If you have any worries at all about the safety aspect, then it may be a better option to think about self-heating pet beds. These use the dog’s own heat and reflects it back to warm its body. There isn’t any electricity involved, so they’re potentially as safe as houses.
Q: How can I clean heated dog pads?
A: Pets, especially dogs, can get rather smelly. Of course, they also shed hair and some breeds produce excessive saliva and so on. And if you’re purchasing a dog bed warmer for outdoor use, it’s especially important to be able to clean your heated dog pad from time to time, as it may get covered in additional mud, dirt and grime.
Each unit will come with its own instructions, which you should pay close attention to. Generally, most feature a removable cover for machine or hand washing. Others are waterproof and so can be wiped clean with a damp cloth. Never mix water and electricity, though: the heat pad should be turned off and unplugged from the mains while cleaning, and left to dry before being used again.
Q: What size heated dog pad do I need?
A: Proud dog owners often find their dogs adorable, especially when they’re asleep! If you’re trying to find the right sized bed for your dog, it’s worth considering what positions they get into when they’re fast asleep. Some love to curl up in a ball, others stretch right out to their full length when they’re truly relaxed.
If your dog is a full length stretch addict, then measure him from the base of his tail to the tip of his nose. Any bed you choose for him should be at least this length, and perhaps even a little longer for luxurious stretching.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that a curled up dog will need a significantly smaller bed. Bear in mind that your dog probably won’t just use his bed for sleeping. He may also want to lounge on it, watching the household members move around him, or chewing his favorite toys.
Of course, if your heated bed pad is intended to fit into a specially designed canine crate, then you’ll be limited by the floor size of the crate. Dog beds with electrical heating elements shouldn’t be folded, so you will need to be more precise in this case.
Don’t forget to choose a bed that’s bigger than your dog if he’s still growing, or if you have multiple canines and they like to snuggle up together!
- Healthy Temperature Setting for Dogs in Winter, American Kennel Club
- Blanket Safety for Pets, PetMD
- Using Heat Therapy for Injury, Surgery, Exercise and Arthritis, Pet Health Network