Does your pet get cold in the winter? Or does he suffer from stiff joints on cool days? If so, a heated dog bed could make him more comfortable. Here are our top five picks.
Excellent electric dog bed that provides continuous warmth
There are plenty of heated mats on the market, but the Thermo-Snuggly Sleeper stands out from the crowd. It's a comfortable bed with a machine-washable cover and thermostatically-controlled temperature, so your pup stays warm during the winter months.
The winter can be an uncomfortable season for many dogs - especially those with short fur or joint pain.
This is why heated dog pads are becoming increasingly popular. By providing a gentle heating effect, these beds can help your pet maintain a comfortable body temperature even during cold weather conditions.
The bad news is that there are lots of poor-quality heated mats on the market.
The worst options provide close to zero additional heat compared to a regular bed. They are also prone to breaking, are not durable enough to withstand daily use, and are potentially dangerous for your dog.
So, to help you make the right choice, I've put together a complete guide to choosing the best warming bed for your pet. Let's get started!
A heated mat provides a continuous low-level warming effect. Some are heated by an electric element, while others reflect your dog's warmth better than a typical bed or blanket.
Not all dogs need a warming bed, but there are several groups that can benefit from a little extra heat:
Note: Does your dog also overheat during the summer months? Check out our page about cooling dog beds here.
There are a variety of types and styles of heated dog bed. Here's a quick overview of the various options.
There are two types of heated pet bed: electric and self-warming. Both have advantages and drawbacks.
Self-warming dog beds don't use electricity, so they don't generate heat themselves. Instead, they are effective at absorbing your dog's heat and reflecting it back. This means less heat is lost and your dog remains warmer.
Electric dog warming mats use a small heating element to generate warmth. They are more expensive and need to be placed near an electric outlet (although there are some battery options), but create additional heat rather than just reflecting it.
Which should you choose though?
This depends on your budget and requirements. If you're on a tight budget or just don't like the thought of your dog sleeping on an electric pad, a self-warming mat or bed can still help your pet stay warm.
For maximum warmth, an electric heating bed is the best option. The top models are safe for dogs and don't use much power, but they are more expensive and may not be suitable for aggressive chewers.
Aside from the type of pad, you also need to ensure your dog is comfortable sleeping on it. A heated bed is no good if your pet hates laying on it!
The most important thing is to get a bed that's big enough for your pet. Ideally, your pet should be able to stretch out in any position without falling off the side - although this isn't always possible with a heated bed due to the element placement. The bed also shouldn't be too large, as this can reduce the heating effectiveness.
This brings me onto another decision: the style of bed.
Many heated beds have a "bolster" design, with soft raised walls to trap heat and a heating element within the cushioned bottom. These are great for indoors as they provide a warm and comfortable sleeping surface.
They aren't the only type of warming mat though. Some companies manufacture flat pads with orthopedic foam and a small heating element. These are great for dogs with joint problems, but may not provide the security of bolster beds.
A variation on the "pad" is a crate bed. If your pet sleeps in a crate, a self-heated pad could make his nights more comfortable during the winter - although don't use an electric bed if the dog is locked in the crate.
There are also outdoor heated mats. As the name suggests, these are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Unless a pad is specifically labelled as suitable for outdoors it's probably not, so keep this in mind when buying!
If you buy a high-quality heated dog bed from a known brand, it's almost certainly safe for use. There are still a few things to check before you use it though.
Firstly, the dog should be able to get off the bed if he starts to overheat. This isn't usually an issue, but some dogs with severe arthritis may struggle. A dog in a shut crate also has no way to cool down if the pad is too hot, so I don't recommend using an electric bed in a crate.
You should also double check the safety of the mat. Examine the wires for any signs of damage or loose connections. You should also test the bed with the back of your hand to ensure it's not too hot.
These issues are unlikely - most beds provide gentle heating and are unlikely to get too hot - but it's important to check.
IMPORTANT: If your dog often destroys his bed, either via chewing or digging, I don't recommend an electric mat. Most electric beds are not chew proof and may cause a safety hazard if ripped apart.
Dog beds get dirty. Fast!
For this reason, look for heated mats with a machine washable cover and easy-to-remove heating element. These are fast to clean when they inevitably get covered in mud, dirt and hair.
Try to avoid white covers too. These can be a nightmare to keep clean.
I've already mentioned that I don't recommend electric beds for aggressive chewers or diggers. All dog beds need to survive day-to-day use, however, so it's important to look for a durable product that's built to a high standard.
You should take note of the brand - especially when buying an electric bed. Companies such as K&H specialize in manufacturing high-quality warming beds, so they are more likely to be safe and durable. Look for beds that have been tested to exceed electrical safety standards and are suitable for continuous use.
Your budget plays an important role in choosing the best heated dog bed for your pet.
If you're buying an electric dog bed, I don't recommend choosing the cheapest options. While there are some low-budget products on the market, these are often poor-quality and unable to withstand the wear and tear required of a dog bed. Instead, look for a bed in the $50-$70 range.
Self-warming beds are often much cheaper. There are some excellent options in the $20-$40 range that use quality materials and provide a decent warming effect.
Keep in mind that the size of the bed also determines its price. If you're buying for a large dog breed, be prepared to spend considerably more.
Listed below are five of the best heated pet beds on the market at the moment. I've included several different types, such as electric, self-warming, crate pads and outdoor beds, so there's an option for everyone. Make sure you read the reviews carefully to find the best option for your pet though.
Scroll down for more information and mini-reviews of each of our top picks.
My top recommendation for an electric heated dog bed is the K&H Thermo-Snuggly Sleeper. It's a bolster bed with a lowered front for easy access, thermostatically controlled temperature and an energy efficient design - plus most dogs will love sleeping on the warm, soft surface.
The Sleeper is made from a cushioned bottom layer with a removable heating element. This is surrounded by a 5" foam bolster, which helps keep heat trapped and provides an extra feeling of security. Larger dogs may also enjoy laying their head on the bolster.
An interesting feature of the K&H Thermo-Snuggly Sleeper is the built-in thermostat. This controls the temperature to ensure it's at the right temperature. It's not pressure sensitive though, so it's always drawing power when switched on.
A bonus is that both the external cover and sleeping surface are machine-washable. You just need to remove the heating element and chuck them into the machine.
There are a few drawbacks to the Thermo-Snuggly though. The bolster takes up a large part of the total area, so the actual sleeping surface is much smaller than the total dimensions. For this reason, make sure you buy a bigger size than you think you'll need - and avoid this bed if you have a large dog.
It's also not as cushioned or supportive as an orthopedic pad or bed. This is expected from a mid-range heated bolster mat, but is something to keep in mind if your dog has arthritis.
Why We Recommend It: The K&H Thermo-Snuggly Sleeper is an excellent electric heated bed that most small or medium-size dogs will love sleeping on. It only uses 6W of power and can be left on continuously due to the built-in thermostat.
Not all dogs need an electric heated bed. For a mild boost in warmth, a self-warming bed is a cheaper alternative.
My top recommendation for a self-heating bed is the OrthoComfort Deep Dish Cuddler. It's only suitable for dogs weighing up to 35lbs (if you buy the JUMBO version), but provides a comfortable place for your pet to snuggle up and keep warm.
As you can see from the photo, the Deep Dish is surrounded by large bolster walls. While most bolsters are around 5" high, this bed has a rear bolster that's a massive 13.5". This creates a cozy sleeping space for your pet while providing support for the neck.
As this is a small bed, the entire product can be machine washed - no need to worry about removing the cover or mattress. The interior mattress also has a waterproof bottom to protect floors if your pet has an accident.
The main drawback is the size. It's only suitable for small or small-medium breeds, as the actual sleeping space is relatively small. It's also quite "floppy," so nervous dogs may be anxious about sleeping in it, and doesn't fluff up as nicely as the photos imply.
Even so, many dogs love sleeping in the Deep Dish - and it's easy to see why. If you want to provide a warmer place for your pet to rest, it's a great choice for the price.
Why We Recommend It: The Deep Dish Cuddler is a self-warming bed that small dogs love to cuddle up in. It features a warm lining and large bolsters for extra security. The whole bed can also be machine washed for quick cleaning.
If you're looking for an electric heating pad for outdoors, the K&H Lectro-Soft is one of the best on the market. It's available in three sizes and provides a comfortable, warm and supportive sleeping surface for your pet.
Unlike many heated beds, the Lectro-Soft is made from orthopedic foam. This provides better support for your dog's joints by spreading weight more evenly across the bed surface.
Like the Thermo-Snuggly Sleeper, the Lectro-Soft has a thermostatically controlled heating element within the mattress. This heats up just enough to maintain the correct body temperature for a dog, regardless of whether the pad is in a warm room or outside in the cold (down to 20 degrees below freezing).
K&H has included a fleece cover with the Lectro-Soft. This is machine-washable and provides extra comfort for your pet.
There are some drawbacks though. The bed is not designed to withstand chewing or digging, so if your dog is destructive it's not the right product. Also, while it's listed as an outdoor product, the bed should always be undercover. It's great for dog houses, kennels, porches or garages, but shouldn't be exposed to the elements, as this would destroy the electrical connections.
It's also worth noting that the K&H is not pressure sensitive. The product descriptions mention that it doesn't fully heat up until your pet is laying on it, which is true, but this is only because heat dissipates into the air. In other words, the K&H is always drawing power - albeit at a low wattage.
Note: The K&H Lectro Soft has been MET approved to exceed US and Canadian safety standards.
Why We Recommend It: The Lectro-Soft is a great choice if you want a heated orthopedic dog pad. It's suitable for use in garages, dog houses and kennels, but could also be an indoor option for dogs with joint pain.
If your dog often gets cold in his crate, the K&H Self-Warming crate pad could be a relatively cheap solution. It's not electric - I don't recommend electric pads in crates as the dog can't move if he starts to overheat - but provides plenty of insulation to reflect your pet's heat rather than absorb it.
Comfort is key if you want your dog to create a positive association with his crate. The K&H Crate Pad helps keep your pet warm, while the microfleece top provides a comfortable sleeping surface. It's great that K&H has also included a non-slip bottom with this pad, as this minimizes movement.
As you would expect from a crate pad, it's made in a variety of sizes to suit almost any breed. It also has slits at the corner so it should fit any crate.
The simplicity of this bed means there aren't many drawbacks. It's soft, machine-washable and adds a little extra warmth for your pet - all for a reasonable price. The reflective heat layer really does make a noticeable difference too.
With that said, it doesn't generate heat so don't expect it to keep your pet warm on a very cold day.
A bigger problem is the durability. It's fine for relaxed dogs or those that don't chew, but it's not designed to be chew proof. The reflective layer also makes a slight crinkling sound that's similar to some pet toys. If your dog has a habit of destroying his possessions, this crate bed probably won't last long.
Why We Recommend It: The K&H Self-Warming Crate Pad reflects heat back at your dog to provide a mild warming effect. It doesn't generate its own heat, but can make a real difference to your dog's temperature in a crate.
I don't recommend buying the cheapest electric dog pads, as they are often poor quality and may even be dangerous. If you're looking for a less expensive alternative to the K&H above, however, the ALEKO Thermo-Pad is worth considering.
Like the K&H, the Aleko is a soft bolster bed with an internal heating element. This element is controlled by a thermostat to regulate the temperature and prevent it getting too hot.
The ALEKO also comes with features such as a six foot chew-proof cable, water-resistant design and a non-slip base - all for a very reasonable price.
There are some drawbacks though, so it's important to have realistic expectations.
One of the biggest downsides of the ALEKO is that it's only suitable for small dogs. With dimensions of 19x19 inches including the bolsters, it's too small for medium breeds or above.
It's also not the most padded bed on the market. It's fine for small dogs who just need a warm space to sleep, but if you pet suffers from joint problems I don't think it provides enough support. Don't expect it to withstand heavy chewing - although at least the cable is chew proof.
I'm not a fan of the white color scheme either. Anything for dogs that's made with white fabric tends to look grubby in no time!
Even so, the ALEKO provides excellent value if you want a warming bed for a small dog (at least if your pet doesn't have a habit of destroying his bed).
Why We Recommend It: The ALEKO isn't as strong as the K&H and it doesn't provide much padding. If you want an inexpensive electric heated bed for a small dog, however, it's an option to consider.
Heated dog beds can be a great way to keep your pet warm during the cold winter months. While not all dogs need a heated bed, those with short hair or joint pain can often benefit. Puppies may also prefer the security of extra warmth until their bodies become better at temperature regulation.
If you're looking for an electric heated dog bed, my top pick is the K&H Thermo-Snuggly Sleeper. It's an excellent bed with a thermostatically controlled heating element, machine-washable cover and comfortable bolsters. If you only need a self-warming bed, the Deep Dish Cuddler is great for small or medium-size breeds.
I hope this article has helped you choose a heated dog bed for your pet. If you have any questions or feedback, please let me know in the comments section below.
About the Author: Richard Cross
Richard is a journalist who specialises in dog behavior. He's written hundreds of articles and books related to dogs, including for the Continental Kennel Club, Dog Fest (the UK's biggest dog festival) and various veterinary surgeries. When he's not spending time with Jess and Rudy (his beloved Labrador and Golden Retrievers), he enjoys reading, hiking and watching sports.