Labrador lying on a dog bed

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Heated dog beds are considered safe for pets when used according to the manufacturer's guidelines and can provide your pet with much-needed warmth during the cold winter months. These types of dog beds are designed with a heating element to keep your dog warm, and they can help warm up your pup faster than blankets and sweaters. They're ideal for dogs who get cold indoors and those with health conditions that can reduce their ability to regulate their body heat effectively. 

Of course, many pet parents are concerned about these beds because of the heating element. If you've ever used a heating pad or blanket, you know there are potential fire hazards. Like these human products, heated dog beds can pose safety risks for pets and people, but when used correctly, they can be a safe solution for your cold pup. This article will discuss everything you need to know to answer the question, "Are heated dog beds safe?" and help you make the right decision for your dog and household. 

Safety Concerns For Heated Dog Beds

A heated bed can help some dogs stay warm indoors, but are heated dog beds safe? There are several factors to consider before investing in one, such as your pet's safety. Like any product with an internal heating element, heated pet beds pose some safety risks. 

Safety concerns for heated dog beds

Fire and electrical hazards

Heated beds use low voltage. However, they still pose fire and electrical shock hazards because they contain wires that can catch fire. For this reason, you should never give a super-chewer a heated bed because they might tear it up, cause a fire hazard, or shock themselves when the bed is in use. 

You can reduce the risk of fire and electrical hazards by monitoring your dog when they're using the heated pet bed. For example, if your dog starts chewing on it, you can take it away from them and eventually train them to stop chewing on their bed over time. However, you should never leave your dog unattended when using a heated bed. 

Overheating

A heated bed for dogs can result in overheating, which can cause dehydration and severe health complications. Luckily, most dogs will walk away and find a cooler spot if they're too warm. However, some dogs might not realize they're overheating, resulting in heat exhaustion. If your dog is panting while in their dog bed, it's likely too hot for them. 

Risk of burns

While beds for dogs use low voltage and heat settings, they can still cause burns, especially when misused. However, you can avoid the risk of burns by ensuring you use your dog's heated bed according to the manufacturer's instructions and monitoring them during use. Luckily, high-quality heated dog beds have enough padding between the heating element and the dog that burns are unlikely, but they can happen if the padding shifts when your dog digs at their bed. 

Should Your Dog Use a Heated Bed?

Dogs and heated beds can go hand-in-hand, as they’re valuable tools for creating a sanctuary space for your dog. They can help them stay warm and comfortable, especially during the colder seasons.

Dogs that should use a heated dog bed

Heated beds for dogs may be useful for several types of pets, including the following:

  • Seniors: As dogs age, they lose the ability to regulate their body heat as efficiently as before. Additionally, senior dogs are prone to pain conditions, such as arthritis and hip dysplasia, which can make lying down uncomfortable.1 These dogs can benefit from heated beds in several ways. Firstly, heated beds can help seniors stay warm, and secondly, they can provide much-needed relief from painful conditions. 
  • Dogs with short coats: Dogs with short coats don't have protection from cold indoor temperatures, so they may need heated dog beds to help them stay warm when they're lounging around the house or taking a nap.1 Even in moderate weather, dogs with thin coats can get cold quickly, especially if you turn off the heater at night. A heated dog bed can help keep them comfortable and warm to prevent shivering. Additionally, they can give your dog a place to go to warm up after a walk outside during the winter. 
  • Dogs with certain health conditions: Dogs of all ages and breeds can be prone to certain health conditions, including dog colds, which make it difficult for them to regulate their body temperatures and cause aches and pains. Conditions like circulation or joint problems make it challenging for your dog to stay active enough to keep themselves warm, and cold temperatures can exacerbate their symptoms. Heated dog beds can deliver heat therapy to help these dogs stay comfortable while getting the rest they need to feel better.1 

How To Keep Your Dog Safe While Using a Heated Bed

If you follow the manufacturer's guidelines, heated dog beds are considered safe for pets. However, you should continue taking proper precautions when using them around your home. 

How to keep your dog safe while using a heated dog bed

Here are a few tips to keep your dog safe while using a heated bed:

Monitor your dog

Always monitor your dog when using their heated pet bed. Keeping an eye on them can prevent them from chewing the bed, which can reduce the risks of accidents. 

If your dog is sleeping or spending a lot of time in their bed, consider walking over to them and putting your hand against the bed to determine if it's maintaining a consistent temperature. If you find any areas too hot, remove the bed and inspect it for signs of wear and tear. 

The filling and padding inside that provides comfort and separates your dog from the heating element can shift over time, so it's always a good idea to check it before your dog uses the bed.

Know the signs of overheating

Dogs are smart. They usually seek out cooler spots to nap when they get too warm. Unfortunately, dogs don't always know when they're overheating, especially if they're fast asleep. Knowing the signs of overheating, such as panting and exhaustion, can help you determine if your dog's bed is too warm for them and indicate when it's time to remove it. 

Use the bed according to the manufacturer's directions

 It's crucial to use your heated pet bed according to the manufacturer's instructions. Misusing the bed may not only void the warranty, but it can be dangerous for your pet, especially if there are special instructions for use that prevent burns and fire hazards. 

Check the bed for wear and tear

Rips, tears, and lumpy padding could mean your dog's heated pet bed isn't safe. While heated pet bed temperatures aren't much higher than your dog's regular body temperature, they can still cause burns or pose shock or fire hazards if the heating element isn't working properly. Therefore, you should always inspect your pet's bed, including the heating element and padding, before letting them use it. 

Alternatives For Heated Dog Beds

Heated dog beds are considered safe for pets when used properly, but pet parents should continue to monitor their pets. In some situations, you may not want your dog to have a heated bed at all, especially if they're a destructive chewer or prone to overheating. 

Luckily, there are several alternatives you can try to keep them warm and ensure your pet's safety:

  • Self-warming dog beds: Self-warming beds are a type of heated dog bed. However, instead of having an electrical component, they use your dog's natural heat to keep them warm. 
  • Extra bedding: Consider adding warm blankets to your dog's crate or wherever they like to nap to help them stay warm. Blankets can help trap their body heat to keep them warm. Opt for a soft flannel blanket they can crawl under in the cold months. 
  • Raised dog beds: While raised dog beds don't necessarily maintain your dog warm, they can keep them off the cold floor. During the cold months, non-carpeted flooring can get uncomfortably cold for your dog, even if they have a blanket. However, raising their bed a few inches off the floor can keep them warmer.

Jack Russel Terrier sleeping on dog bed

Heated Dog Beds: FAQs

What temperature should a heated dog bed be?

A heated dog bed should not be much warmer than your dog's natural internal temperature. However, many manufacturers offer various heat settings to help you find the most comfortable one for your pet. That said, try to keep the temperature slightly warmer than the air in your home because it will warm up even more after your dog lays on it.  

Can I leave a heated dog bed inside a crate?

You can use a heated dog bed inside a crate. However, monitor your pet while they use it since they can chew the cord and other electrical components. If you must leave the house or your dog sleeps in their crate, remove the heated bed and replace it with blankets to keep them warm. 

Should heated dog beds stay on all night?

Heated dog beds should never stay on all night because they can cause burns. In addition, you should monitor your dog when they're using their pet bed because of the risk of electric shock, fire, burns, and overheating. 

Final Notes

A heated pet bed can benefit dogs with short fur or those suffering from painful health conditions. However, your dog should only use them when you can fully monitor them. Additionally, while they can help keep your pet warm and provide heat therapy that relaxes the muscles and reduces pain, dogs suffering from aches should be examined and treated by a vet. 

Talk to a Dutch vet today if your dog is experiencing pain. Our vets can provide winter pet tips and diagnose and treat various illnesses and conditions in dogs while helping you determine if a heated dog bed is right for them. Try Dutch today.
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References

  1. Dr. Jerry Klein, CVO. "Are Heated Beds Safe for Your Dog?" American Kennel Club, 24 Sept. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/vets-corner/heated-beds-safe-dog/. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

After your video call, the vet will send you a message with a custom treatment plan to help your pet feel better, including a link to buy any recommended prescription or over-the-counter medications. Place your order and we’ll ship it free.

How much will it cost for Dutch to treat my pet?

The Dutch membership starts at $12/mo for unlimited access to the vet. No more long waits for appointments or surprise bills.

In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.