If you happen to have a small (particularly a toy sized) dog, then you’re probably very familiar with your dog wanting to be on or near a heater source from about September through June. I know my little 2.5 pound Chihuahua, Nova, becomes all but glued to the heater pad we have for her, no matter how many layers and sweaters we bundle her up in. And, who can blame them? They’ve got very little body fat to keep themselves insulated and warm. But, how safe are heaters for your dog and which ones are really the best? If you’re looking for a new source of heat or just wondering how your current one ranks, here are some of the most popular options used today with their pros & cons.
Human Heating Pad
The heating pads designed for human use are probably the most common types of heater given to small dogs. The pros: they’re easy to buy, cheap and don’t require any effort beyond plugging them in and setting the heat to stay on. They can be placed right on top of your dog’s normal bed so there typically aren’t any issues with the dog not liking a new bed completely. The negatives: these heating pads often do not turn down to a low enough temperature that’s appropriate and safe for a toy sized dog. If the dog is lying directly on top of the pad for too long, they can even burn their tender skin. Some styles also do not have a “stay-on” feature which means they will automatically shut off after a certain period of time, at which point a small dog may get overly chilled. Finally, the fact that there is a cord in close proximity to your dog can always be dangerous, especially if your dog has any tendency to chew. And since he/she is likely to by laying in the same place for multiple hours and have a high likelihood of getting bored, chewing may become an issue quickly, even if it never has before.
Microwaveable Heating Pads
Many owners who do a little research on traditional heating pads will often decide to invest in a slightly more expensive heating option, and that is a microwaveable heating pad. The main pros related to these involve safety. There is no cord or electricity, which eliminates all danger connected to shocks and/or potentially creating sparks and starting a fire. These are also much less likely to be overly warm (unless the owner overheats the pad in the beginning), thus they should eliminate the common redness or burns that can be associated with a heating pad. The cons: they do not stay warm indefinitely like an electric heating pad and require more diligent and constant effort to reheat the pad as necessary. If the owner is going to be gone for longer than the time frame the pad is guaranteed to stay warm, a back up option will need to be found.
Portable Space Heaters
The third of the most common forms of keeping pets warm (for both small and large dogs alike) is a small space heater. The biggest pro to this is the fact that the entire room will be warm, meaning your dog will feel free and comfortable enough to roam the room and play and live as normal, as opposed to feeling the need to cling to a heating blanket or pad in order to stay warm enough. However! Space heaters can be extremely dangerous around pets. Space heaters on the ground are nearly asking to be tipped over by medium and large sized dogs, a problem that can very easily cause house fires.
Depending upon your situation, you will have to gauge this accordingly. My personal recommendation for a single small dog is to go for a microwaveable pad. The introduction of cords and electricity near pets can simply never be 100% safe. With diligence and a little extra time, a microwaveable pad keeps a small dog happy, content and warm all day and night long. However, if the owner is going to be gone for longer than the time frame a microwave pad can stay warm, I would suggest a heating pad made specifically for pets that offers a stay-on feature. For multiple dogs in an outside kennel, then a small space heater that is mounted on the wall is likely the best option. This will prevent tipping the heater over and warm the entire room to keep all dogs warm and happy.