Heated pet mats: cozy comfort or potential shock hazard?
When cold temperatures hit, pets can get chilly, whether they are indoors or outdoors. Sometimes a sweater or harness doesn't do the trick for your pet. Unfortunately, not all dogs and cats like to wear clothing. The solution is getting their dog or cat a heated pet mat or a heated blanket for some dog owners. There are many different options, from mats that fit inside a dog house to mats that fit on top of a cat bed. The materials can also vary between styles, just like your small animal's heating needs will differ from a large pet's. Some pet heating pads are cordless, while others plug into an outlet, making some pet parents pause before adding it to their shopping cart. This begs the question, are heated pet mats safe for all pets?
Pros of Heated Pet Mats
A heated pet bed can have many benefits for your dog or cat. If your pet is small or has a hard time regulating their body temperature, a heating pad or bed can be very useful in keeping them comfortable during the winter months. Small dogs can lose body heat very quickly, which often turns them into quite the cuddler. They are using you for your body heat or your blanket. So having a heating mat on their bed or in their dog crate can keep them warm and give you a little bit of space.
Senior dogs and cats can also benefit from a heated pet bed. As pets age, they begin to develop health issues. According to the American Kennel Club, your pet can have hip dysplasia, spinal injuries, circulation problems, arthritis, and other health problems. A heating pad can help soothe their aches and pains, which can be made worse by cold temperatures. In addition, senior dogs may have mobility issues. Self-warming and orthopedic foam beds can keep your senior pet from getting too hot and allow them to get up more easily.
If your dog goes outside in the cold weather, you will want a heated dog mat that is safe for outdoor use and has a washable cover. There is nothing like a little bit of mud on a brand new heating pad to drive you crazy.
Use one specifically for your cat or dog. Never use a heating pad that is made for humans. Our heated blankets and pads are not safe for a pet's body and can cause them to overheat or become uncomfortable.
Cons of Pet Bed Warmers
While heated pet mats are typically safe for your cat or dog, there are a few things to look out for. Cats and dogs can get electrocuted if they chew into a heating pad's cord. But, there are multiple kinds of pet bed warmers. If you are worried about your dog or cat chewing on the cords, you can always get them a self-warming heating mat. If you prefer to stick with a corded pad, you can place heavy-duty, chew-resistant covers over the cords.
Electrocution is not the only hazard with corded mats. Your cat or dog can find the cord a little too interesting and begin to play with it. The cord can become wrapped around their necks leading to strangulation.
Hot spots can also pop up on some sections of the heating pad leading to burns on your cat or dog. Pets with long fur are actually more susceptible to burns since their long hair prevents them from feeling the heat. Pick a heating pad that is thermostatically controlled to prevent any potential burns. The pet bed can be set to turn off at a specific temperature, or you can use an adapter to turn it off after a set amount of time.
If your pup or kitty is a chewer, they can tear bits of the mat off and ingest them. Ingesting things that are not cat or dog food can lead to intestinal blockages. Check the heating pad daily to make sure it is still intact. If you notice missing pieces, make sure you check your dog's poop or the cat litter to see if any pieces have come through.
What to Look For in Heated Dog Beds & Cat Houses
To make your life a little easier, get a cat or dog bed that has a removable, machine washable cover. Pets can get pretty dirty over the winter months, and it is nice to remove the cover and get it clean again. Accessibility for cleaning can also be helpful if you have a senior dog, just in case they have an accident. Beds with fleece covers add an extra layer of warmth for your pet too, and are super soft! Pillow beds give a soft surface for your pet to snuggle into, and some deluxe models are even self-heating.
Some pet beds and houses also come with warranties. Look for one with a warranty just in case something goes wrong, or you plug it in, and it does not work. Heating pads are not just for cats and dogs, though. Some can even be used in your chicken coop to keep your backyard flock warm during the winter.
Does your pet have a heated pet mat? Tell us on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page.