What To Know About Heated Dog Beds

Updated: Nov. 21, 2023

Heated dog beds sound cozy, but is one of these beds right for your dog? Let's find out.

Today our pets are more like family members than ever. As a result, we’re willing to spend more on them— particularly on items that make their lives better. As it turns out, warm beds can be highly beneficial for senior dogs and dogs with arthritis. That makes heated dog beds particularly “hot” items in pet parents’ shopping carts.

Here’s want you should know about heated dog beds and how to choose the best bed for your dog.

How Do Heated Dog Beds Work?

Heated dog beds use electricity to power an internal heating element. This element can be a heating pad or coil that is built-in or removable. Because the beds are designed for pets, they either automatically warm to an optimal temperature or can be adjusted within a safe temperature range for your dog.

Heated dog beds are ideal for dogs that need extra warmth. That includes dogs with arthritis and joint pain and those with short fur living in colder climates. Always check with your veterinarian before using a heated bed.

Types of Heated Dog Beds

You have a few options to choose from. Some have adjustable temperature controls or automatic shut-off features for safety, and some are made with joint-friendly foam or materials safe for outdoor use.

Dog beds come in three styles:

  • Bolster beds. These have raised, cushioned walls on three sides and a cushioned bottom that houses the heating element. Heated bolster beds are designed for indoor use, and there are limited options available for large and extra-large dogs.
  • Mats and pads. Heated mats and pads are a great option for providing dogs with a warm, flat surface to lie on, and they are also easy to transport and store. These beds come in a wide range of sizes and prices to suit different budgets and dogs.
  • Outdoor heated beds. Outdoor heated dog beds are typically available in mat or pad bed styles and the beds are designed to be waterproof and weather resistant.

Chew-resistant cords are necessary for any heated dog bed. A removable, easy-to-clean cover is also a helpful feature. While you’re at it, learn about elevated dog beds.

Should Heated Dog Beds Stay On All Night?

Heated dog beds that only warm up when your dog lies on them are designed to stay plugged in. However, it’s generally recommended you unplug other types of heated dog beds overnight (unless they have an auto shut-off feature.) When shopping for and setting up any heated dog bed, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Pay special attention to any recommended usage times or temperature settings.

Note: When using a heated dog bed, check the temperature often. If the bed feels too hot on your palm, it’s likely too hot for your dog. If you have questions about how long and how often your dog can use a heated bed, talk to your veterinarian.

Are Heated Dog Beds Safe?

Heated dog beds are safe when they are purchased from reputable companies and used as instructed. To determine a company’s reputation, look for positive customer reviews and transparent product and manufacturing information. If you have questions or concerns regarding a product, the company should be available to provide answers.

To ensure pet safety, products such as heated dog beds must follow government safety standards and regulations. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) can recall or ban unsafe products. They did this in 2012 with the Indoor Pet Heating Comfort Pad Mats due to poor wiring and construction.

Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees the legitimacy of medical-based marketing claims. This means that if a dog bed claims to alleviate arthritis, the manufacturer must provide evidence to support the claim. Lastly, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) restricts the use of certain chemicals in pet products, including pet beds. Regulated products must meet EPA’s standards, and it’s illegal to sell pet products that don’t meet them.

Heated Dog Bed Alternatives

If you’d rather have a cord-free way to warm your dog, consider these options:

  • Dog blankets: Soft, warm blankets can provide a cozy spot for your dog. Blankets made especially for pets, like this one from Furhaven, feature soft faux fur fabric and a waterproof velvet surface.
  • Self-warming or thermal dog beds. These beds don’t use external heating to keep your dog warm. Instead, they’re made with materials that trap and reflect your dog’s body heat. They’re not always as warm as heated dog beds, but they’re usually budget-friendly and safe for puppies or dogs who like to chew.
  • Insulated and heated dog houses: If your dog spends a lot of time outside, an insulated or heated dog house can provide a sheltered, warm spot. Look for dog houses made with waterproof materials, insulation for year-round use and an interior large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in.
  • Sweaters or jackets: Some dogs get cold easily, especially if they are small or have short fur. You can keep them warm with the right cold-weather gear. For cold outdoor trips, a jacket like the Hurtta Expedition Dog Parka can help. For milder weather or inside, a sweater is often enough.
  • Microwavable warmers: If you’re looking for a cordless heated bed option, consider microwavable heating pads. Options like K&H Microwavable Pet Bed Warmer are designed to be placed in any pet bed.
  • Warm water bottles: For an inexpensive DIY option, water bottles filled with warm water can keep your dog toasty.

Best Heated Dog Beds

These dog beds are notable and highly rated.

Best indoor heated dog bed

The K&H Thermo-Snuggly Sleeper offers comfort, warmth, and safety. This bolster-style bed features a soft base and walls, a body-activated thermostat that heats to an optimal temperature and a non-slip bottom to prevent sliding on hardwood floors. The sage green bed comes in large and medium. It’s the best indoor bed because its low-wattage heating pad is removable, which means the bed can be tossed in the wash and used all year round.

Best outdoor heated dog bed

Another option from K&H Pet Products, the indoor-outdoor Lectro-Soft Heated Pet Bed has the best safety features we’ve seen and offers orthopedic support. It features a sturdy five-foot steel-wrapped cord, a water-resistant pad and a soft fleece covering which can be removed and machine-washed. Like our bolster bed pick, it’s also body-weight activated, so it only turns on when in use. The therapeutic foam bed comes in small, medium and large.

Best budget heated dog bed

Available in four sizes from small (18-in. x 16-in.) to extra-large (47-in. x 28-in.), this is the best buy we’ve found for dogs of all sizes. The Toozey Pet Heating Mat is an affordable heated bed option. It offers six temperature settings between 86 and 131 degrees, while most pet beds only provide one. The ultra-soft, machine-washable bed is timer controlled, so you can decide how long the heated bed should stay on.