You’ve likely run across the self-warming dog bed while shopping for other items for your pup, particularly among winter dog supplies (even though it's not necessarily a winter-exclusive item).
If you’re like other pet owners, you likely have a few questions about this type of pet bed, including what it is, how it works, what is its purpose and whether your dog even needs one.
What is a Self-Warming Dog Bed?
This type of bed utilizes your dog’s body heat to warm the inside of the bed. Self-warming beds are not the same as heated dog beds, though. Where heated dog beds, or heating dog pads, require a power outlet to reach and maintain the desired temperature, a self-warming pet bed uses no power cord or external source of heat.
As with other dog bed options, the self-warming dog bed comes in a range of designs to accommodate the varied sleeping styles and durability needs of individual dogs. We'll discuss the several styles and specific options later, but first let's talk about how it works, its benefits and whether you even need one.
How Do Self-Warming Dog Beds Work?
The self-warming dog bed works by incorporating a layer of insulating material into the cushion of the bed. This material works by reflecting the infrared radiation (“body heat”) that is emitted from your dog’s body back to them to keep them warm.
The type of insulating material that is used in a self-warming dog bed varies depending on the manufacturer of the bed, with each manufacturer competing to produce the most durable and efficient material at the lowest cost to them.
The materials that are used in self-warming pet beds are almost always proprietary formulas, so while you will be able to find out whether they are toxic or non-toxic, you will have difficulty finding out the exact material composition.
How to Shop for a Self-warming Pet Bed
With many models of self-warming beds for dogs to choose from and with different material compositions, what should you be looking for when buying your dog a high-quality self-warming bed? Here are a few pointers.
1. Choose a bed that suits your dog’s sleeping style
First and foremost, pick a bed that suits your dog’s individual needs over the style or how well it fits within your home decor. If they love to sleep curled up, select a “cuddler”, “donut”, or “bagel” type bed that provides additional support around the body to facilitate easier curling. If, on the other hand, your dog is a “leaner” opt for a bolster-style bed that gives them something to lean against when they sleep.
2. Pick the one that accommodates your dog's age and health
In the same way, it's also important that when you choose a bed for your pupper, that you accommodate their current health concerns. If your dog has arthritis, choose a bed that offers a thicker orthopedic base for more support or if you have a dog that is unsteady on their feet, choose a bed with a non-slip fabric cover.
3. Look into specific brands that you already trust
It’s a rule of thumb that goes for everything that you will ever purchase for your Fido. Always buy from a brand that you trust, one that has a good reputation; don’t go with the cheapest bed just to save money as you'll lose more in the long-run anyway.
A good dog bed can last your dog for years and it's worth the investment because you'll save money on not having to re-buy it, and possibly even saving on vet bills. A poor-quality dog bed will not only fall apart, but there is also a possibility that it is made with toxic materials.
4. Always read the labels first!
While self-warming dog beds cannot always tell you exact compositions of materials, they can tell you where a bed was made, and they can offer warnings and cautions if a bed contains potentially dangerous materials. Even if a bed doesn’t offer a warning, you may be able to determine whether a bed contains toxic materials based on materials that are listed on the manufacturing label.
- Avoid beds that were made in countries with lax safety standards, like China.
- Avoid beds that contain toxic fire-retardant chemicals.
- Avoid beds that contain PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers).
- Avoid beds that contain phthalates (PVC is also known as PVC or polyvinyl chloride).
- For foam-based beds, look for a bed that has a CertiPUR-US® certification.
- Look for a bed made in the U.S. using USA sourced materials.
- Look for beds that come with a specific guarantee, for example, Big Barker.
- Avoid beds that use foam that was made in China, even if the bed was assembled in the U.S.
5. Read feedback and reviews from other pet owners
Although every product has a critic, you can tell a lot about a company based on their online feedback and reviews from customers. Find out what people are saying about the bed you are considering.
Is it durable? Does it flatten quickly? Does it have an odor to it? Does it contain questionable materials? If the feedback and reviews on a bed are overwhelmingly negative, it’s best to sidestep that option and look for a bed with a more positive reception.
6. If possible, let your pup investigate the bed beforehand
If at all possible, allow your pooch to investigate the new bed before you purchase it or at least purchase it from a retailer that allows returns on merchandise. Just like us, our dogs have preferences for certain materials, structures, textures, and smells. Letting your pup investigate a bed before committing to it will give you a better idea of whether they will use the bed or not.
ALSO READ: How to Get Your Dog to Sleep on a Dog Bed
The Benefits of a Self-Warming Bed for Dogs
So, what benefits does a self-warming dog bed offer that your dog may not experience with a more traditional dog bed? Here are just some of them.
- Improved circulation from heated beds promotes healing of injuries in animals as nutrients are delivered to the body much more quickly.
- A more stable body temperature for dogs that are recovering from being in a neglected physical condition and young pups.
- The convenience of added warmth in cooler climates or simply during winter time without the need for dangerous power outlets and cords.
- Warmer joints mean more flexible joints and less stiffness during colder weather.
- Heat creates a more soothing experience for the dog by promoting muscle relaxation and even inducing sleep.
- Increased warmth without any danger of the burns that can result from the use of electrically heated pet beds.
Does Your Dog Need This Bed?
Not every dog needs a self-warming bed, so how do you know if your dog needs one? In our experience, this type of bed is best suited to dogs that…
- Suffer from arthritis or otherwise aching joints.
- Live in colder climates.
- Experience severe separation anxiety.
- Are often chilled due to having hair loss, a thin coat, low body weight, thyroid conditions, being older, or being ill and unable to properly regulate their body temperature, particularly in winter or colder climates.
Most Popular Self-Warming Dog Bed Choices
As their benefits become known and their popularity rises, there are now plenty of self-warming beds for dogs to choose from. Below are a few of our favorite choices and what generally are considered the best self-warming dog beds on the market today.
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The Aspen Pet Self-Warming Bed from Petmate is a great self-warming bed option for placement on top of a cot bed. We don’t recommend this as a stand-alone bed because it simply doesn’t have enough padding in the bottom for support, but the self-warming feature makes a great pairing with the Coolaroo or Kuranda beds in colder temperatures and for dogs that need the added warmth. The inside of the bed is made from Sherpa-like fleece and the exterior of the bed is a durable corduroy which we are particularly fond of. There are multiple shapes and sizes of this bed available, the largest being 35” x 27” which is priced at $39.09.
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This is a self-warming dog bed for those smaller pups (up to 16lbs.) who like to burrow under the covers.
Made like a cuddle sack, this nest bed measures 19.7” x 15.7” x 11.8” and is made from a plush fleece material designed to retain warmth.
You may have to invest in more than one of these beds if you have cats in the household or more than one dog because it’s the tight fit of this bed that makes it nice and warm.
We love this bed as a travel bed because it’s simple to transport and small enough to tuck away just about anywhere.
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The K&H heated thermo-snuggly sleeper bed has an 18” diameter and high walls that create a sense of security and help to retain warmth.
We love this self-warming bed for dogs that like to sleep curled up tightly in a ball but who like the added support of the raised sidewalls.
The one thing we don’t love about this bed is that the base pillow is sewn into the bed, but this isn’t a huge problem since the whole bed fits into the washer.
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There are far too few self-warming dog beds available for big dogs and this is one of our favorites! Similar to a large “beanbag” bed, the whole bed conforms to your dog’s shape and is perfect for burrowers, cuddlers, and leaners. We love how soft the exterior of this bed is and the rimmed edge is just enough to give your pup somewhere to rest their head. Our favorite thing about this bed is that the 45” bed is big enough for giant breeds, multiple smaller breeds, or for you to snuggle up with your pup and take a nap!
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