I’ve been spoiled by the beautiful weather this summer, and it feels like the cold weather has come on so suddenly. That means turning my attention to how I’m going to keep my dog warm and comfortable.
Generally speaking, electric blankets made specifically for dogs are considered safe, but it is important to follow the manufacturers’ guidelines. However, if the thought of using one concerns you, there are plenty of other options to keep your dog warm.
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What Makes Electric Blankets Safe for Dogs?
If you look at some of the descriptions for electric blankets and electric heating mats for dogs, you’ll see mention of the various safety features:
- Chew resistant cord
- Chew guard at the end of the cord
- Temperature control (thermostat) to prevent overheating – shuts off when it’s reached your set temperature
- Anti-electric shock fabric
- Many manufacturers have made every effort to produce a safe product, some mentioning they’re certified by MET Laboratories to exceed USA and Canadian electrical safety standards
- Some just stay a few degrees above room temperature when your dog is lying on it, but goes back to room temperature when he gets up
While every effort has been made by many manufacturers to produce a safe product, and thousands of great reviews show how much people love them, you may not like the idea of your dog being in such close contact with something electric
- What if the thermostat malfunctions and your dog doesn’t realize the mat or blanket is getting hotter? He could burn himself.
- If he’s a chewer, is it possible he could chew through the fabric and reach the wires inside?
- Could he manoeuvre himself into such a position the cord wraps around his neck?
Whether you buy a kettle, iron or electric heating pad, any electric item comes with a manufacturer’s warning on how to use the product safely…and it’s important to follow their guidelines.
- If the product is only intended for indoor use, please don’t use it outside
- If your dog is not mobile and can’t get off the pad should it get too hot, it’s better to use a self-heating mat for example (we’ll talk about that further on)
- Find another product if you notice your dog has chewed it
- If it says don’t fold it and keep it flat, then please comply
- Make sure the cord is positioned in such a way your dog cannot get caught in it
- Keeping it in the same place all the time could cause discoloration to the floor underneath due to the heat
- Remove the heating element before washing
- Do not use it on the couch
- Keep children away
- Turn off/unplug when not in use
- Do not puncture the pad or mat
- Don’t cover it (unless the manufacturer says you can) because it could overheat and become a fire hazard
- Do not use if it’s wet
- Speak to your vet first to make sure it’s safe for your dog
Features to Look for in an Electric Blanket or Heating Mat
Safety – A major concern when dealing with any electrical product, has it been tested by an independent lab to ensure it conforms with all the necessary safety features
Indoor or outdoor use – They are not dual purpose, so buy the one that suits the location
Chew resistant cord – Whether it’s protected by silicone, metal or some other chew resistant material, this is an important safety feature. However, if you have a heavy-duty chewer, an electric blanket or mat is not the right product for your dog
Temperature – Are there various settings? Is there a thermostat to automatically shut the heat off when it reaches the pre-set temperature?
Size – You may want to think about buying a size smaller than your dog. This way he has a non-heated area to go to if he wants
Chew resistant fabric – No matter how tough the fabric claims to be, it may not be able to stand up to your super chewer. If that’s the case, an electric blanket or heating mat may not be the safest option
Washable – How easy is it to keep clean. Sponge wipe? Washing machine?
Waterproof – If you’ll be using your mat outdoors, you have a puppy that’s being house trained or an old dog with mobility or other health issues, a waterproof layer is a big help
Flame retardant – Some companies do mention the materials used are flame retardant
Energy efficiency – How much will this add to your electric bill?
Benefits of Heated Dog Beds and Blankets
Older dogs can feel the chill a lot more than their younger counterparts. Add to that some joint pain and you’ll see why a heated mat or blanket can be beneficial. If your dog has trouble getting around, be sure to monitor him so he doesn’t get too hot
It will be almost like cuddling with his litter mates
Whether your dog lives outside or likes to spend time out there in all types of weather, it will provide him with warmth and comfort
Can help alleviate pain and sore joints, relieve strained muscles and aids recovery from injury. In these cases, be sure to speak with your vet to ensure it’s the right course of action to take
Short hair or no hair
Whether your dog has just come back from the groomer or he doesn’t have much/any fur (if he has Cushing’s for example), this will help him stay warm on cold winter nights
7 Electric Blankets and Heating Mats to Consider
Alternatives to Electric Blankets for Dogs
For anyone concerned about using an electric blanket or electric heating mat, here are some alternatives that will still keep your dog warm and comfy.
Self-warming pet heating pads
A worry-free way to keep your dog warm, they contain a thermal material that reflects heat back to your pup. Safe to use on the couch, bed, car, put it on the floor alone or on top of his existing bed. BTW, there are also self-warming beds!!
NOTE: The ones listed may not be suitable if your dog is a chewer.
Let’s take a look at 5 popular and highly rated pads and beds for you to consider.
The microfleece cover makes it cozy and comfortable, not to mention warm. Available in gray/black or oatmeal/chocolate they’re reversible for change, and you can choose the combination that best suits your décor. Easy to clean, just wash in the gentle cycle and hang to dry.
Insulating polyester fiber batting core means your dog stays warm and toasty, the plush fabric makes it super comfortable, lightweight makes it easy to take along when traveling and is machine washable.
Using the same technology as space blankets combined with a faux lamb’s wool fabric, you know this bed will keep your dog warm. It comes in 4 sizes and is machine washable.
Available in 4 sizes and 10 colors, this super cozy faux shag fur self-warming bed looks amazing! Raised sides provide a place for your dog to lean against, it has an anti-skid bottom so it doesn’t slide when your pup goes in and out, and it’s portable so easy to take wherever you go. It’s also safe for the washing machine and dryer.
A mylar layer uses your dog’s own body heat to keep him warm, and the plush outer material will keep him comfortable. This can be used inside a crate, as a stand alone mat or on top of his existing bed or couch. It’s easy to wash and rolls up with a carry handle so you can take it anywhere.
Microwavable pet heating pads
As the name suggests, you put them in the microwave, warm them up and you’re good to go.
NOTE: The length of time they stay warm varies
This pad retains heat up to 10 hours although users’ experiences vary, with many saying it doesn’t stay warm that long. This product is considered safe as long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Dogs can lie directly on the covered pad or if you find it too hot, place a blanket on top. The fleece cover is washable.
Replacement covers are also available if it gets worn out or you just want a change!
Filled with a non-toxic gel, it’s very comfortable to lie on. What’s interesting about this product is that it can be used in both hot and cold weather. Microwave it when you need to keep your pup warm, then put it in the fridge for those hot summer days. The fleece cover is easy to remove, just throw it in the washing machine.
Microwave, put into your dog’s bed and the company says it will provide up to 12 hours of warmth. It is non-toxic and the neoprene cover can be hand washed with soap and water.
Dog beds for winter
We talked about electric blankets and mats, self-warming beds and microwavable discs. Did you know there are “regular” beds that will also keep your dog warm?
This cave style bed is perfect if your dog likes to burrow, and the simulated lambs wool interior will keep him warm. It’s orthopedic so perfect for any dog with sore joints. It is available in 3 sizes, various fabric options, 40 colors and a machine washable outer shell.
The high 10” sides of this bed provides a great opportunity to snuggle and curl up, while offering extra support to his head, neck and back. Available in medium and large, it has an anti-skid bottom so won’t move when your dog gets in and out, and the removable cover is machine washable.
With an attached blanket and soft faux fur interior, it’s perfect not only for extra warmth but for dogs who like to hide or burrow. The raised sides provide extra head and neck support, and creates a safe and comfy space he can cuddle into. Machine and dryer safe.
Another example of a cave type bed dogs can burrow in and get warm. This is made for small dogs up to around 10lbs, is machine washable and the manufacturing process means the filling won’t shift or clump.
4 Other Ways to Keep Your Dog Warm
Hot water bottle
It’s been many years since I’ve used a hot water bottle, but I do remember always filling it with hot water. Apparently you’re not supposed to do that, because it can damage the seams of the bottle!
Boil water, let it cool down to a safe temperature than fill it up. Buy a cover or wrap it in a towel or blanket before putting it in your dog’s bed.
My dog really felt the cold in her old age, so she wore a sweater in the house several months of the year. They were thin but super comfortable and they made a massive difference. I bought a lot of them at WalMart, they were inexpensive, the material was soft, they fit well and lasted a long time.
Keeping a blanket on your dog’s bed will give her the added warmth she needs. Mine loved to snuggle under the covers when she was feeling the chill, so it’s a good option to have.
If you have an uncarpeted floor, raising your dog’s bed off the ground or putting a mat underneath will help protect him from the cold. If the pillow in the bottom is thin, replace it or put a blanket on top as another layer of protection.
Keeping a Dog Warm in the Garage
Let’s be honest – a dog should not be kept in the garage. I believe every dog deserves to live in a loving home, and if you can’t offer him that it’s better not to get one in the first place, or find him a happy and kind place to live.
Having said that if, for whatever reason, your dog will be spending some time in the garage in the winter, here are ways to keep him warm and comfortable.
NOTE: Be sure to keep all dangerous chemicals and materials out of reach. He will still need plenty of physical exercise, mental stimulation, clean drinking water and proper nutrition.
- Raised bed so it’s off the cold floor, or a mat underneath so there’s no direct contact
- Keep the bed away from draughts
- Blanket on the bed
- Electric blanket or self-warming mat
- Space heater for extra warmth (assuming it’s safe to use one in that area)
- Hot water bottle
- A well-fitting sweater if you know your dog will wear it, not chew it or try and take it off and hurt himself
How to Keep a Dog Warm Outside in Winter
Whether your dog lives permanently outside, which I truly hope is not the case, or just likes to spend time out there, you need to keep him warm. Here’s how:
- Provide him with a sturdy doghouse or kennel
- Not only does it need to keep him dry it also must keep him warm
- If it’s made of wood, raising it a few inches off the ground will prevent the floor from rotting
- Putting flexible plastic strips across the opening will prevent/reduce the amount of wind, rain and snow that gets in
- A slanted roof is better than flat, so rain can run off and snow won’t pile up
- Blankets can get wet and will stay wet, so straw can be used for bedding. Change it regularly so it doesn’t get moldy
- Put a self-heating mat in the space furthest away from the door. I know I mentioned blankets get wet, but if the mat is covered with a layer of straw and is away from the door it should stay dry but please check it regularly
- Put the doghouse in an area protected from the wind
- A hot water bottle or two will help
Your dog needs constant access to clean, fresh drinking water which can be challenging in the winter. Check it twice daily to ensure it hasn’t frozen. A large bottomed bowl or bucket is best so it doesn’t get knocked over.
Put an old tire in a sunny part of the yard, but close to the shelter. Add rocks to the inside, put the bowl or bucket in the middle, add more rocks to just below the rim, then fill the bowl with water. The heat absorbed by the rocks and tire should prevent the water from freezing as quickly.
Do you use an electric blanket for your dog? Have you had any issues or do you feel safe using it? What brand do you like and what features does it offer? Sharing helps others so please let us know in the comments below.
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