If you have read our article on whelping kits, you are probably aware that heating pads are on the list. In fact, it might be one of those must have items in your own list of whelping supplies. But what you may not know is what you should look for in a heating pad.
In this article, we are going to look at what you need in a heating pad, how you should use them and some of the best heating pads for newborn puppies on the market, along with a few of my favorite.
What are Heating Pads Used For?
If you are new to breeding, you have probably heard about the various heating supplies you will need in your whelping kit. These can be heating pads and heat lamps and even a space heater. Before you decide on which one you will use the most, I do want to mention that your whelping space will really determine what type of heating source you will use.
In addition, regardless of what your final decision is, I always recommend that you keep all three sources available in your kit. You may not use them every litter but you may use them from time to time. My last litter, I used all three due to the dampness in the space at night but one item I use with every litter are heating pads.
So why do you use heating pads? The answer is simply to give your puppies a warm area in the whelping box. There are actually 2 key times that you use a heating pad and these are:
- During Whelping. While your dam is whelping, you want to have a bin for the new puppies. Under the bin should be a heating pad. This will prevent your puppies from getting a chill and the bin will provide a safe place while mom is pushing out another puppy. Often, they are so focused on what they are doing that they can inadvertently crush a puppy. For that reason, taking the puppies out of the whelping box and into the bin keeps them safe and the heating pad keeps them warm. Puppies can go back with mom between births so that their suckling will encourage contractions.
- In the Whelping Box. Once all the puppies are here, I keep a few heating pads in the whelping box. This provides them a warm place for the puppies to lay if they are cold.
One thing that should be mentioned with heating pads is that it is important to place them at one end or on either end of the whelping box for a larger space.
The reason why we recommend this is because we want puppies to be able to move off the heating pad if they get overheated. You don't want puppies to become dehydrated so being able to move away from the heat is important to keeping them safe.
In addition, by having them on the end, mom can be away from the heating pad when she is in with the puppies and nursing. This will keep the whole family happy and healthy while providing ample warmth for pups.
What Should I Look For in a Heating Pad For Puppies?
When it comes to heating pads, everyone has a different idea of what they'd like to have in one. I have used a range of them, and for myself, I want a few things for my heating pads. These are:
- Variable Temps: Always choose one with a large range of temps. This helps you get the perfect temperature in your whelping box. The temperature in a whelping box during the first 3 days should be 85 degrees Fahrenheit and 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit on the heating pad after 3 days with 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the remainder of the box.
- No shut off: A lot of heating pads have automatic shut off features that are great to prevent accidents but not great when you are trying to maintain a constant temp in the box.
- Digital: I find that digital is one of the best to use so that you can be sure of the temp you are setting it to. When it is simply a button or dial for low, medium and high, it is very hard to know the temp your whelping box is at.
- Large: While you can purchase and use multiple heating pads, I prefer to purchase a big one. You want the heating pads to cover about 1/3rd of your whelping box. This will give you room for heating as well as room for mom to not be on a pad.
- Easy to Clean: Find one that is easy to clean as they can get messy very easily, especially depending on how you are setting them up.
Finding the best one can be a bit of a challenge but I have also included some of the best heating pads you can get for your whelping boxes and puppies.
Kane Piglet Heating Pad
One of the first heating pads that people think about when they think about them is the Kane heating pads. This company has both heating pads for piglets and for pets. While the pets one are excellent, I find that I prefer the ones designed for piglets as they tend to be a lot larger.
Some models come with the temperature control and thermostat, however, you often need to buy those separately. When it comes with the thermostat, It is a digital display that helps you maintain a constant temp for your puppies.
If you don't attach the temperature control, the pads still maintain a temperature of 37 degrees Fahrenheit above the ambient temperature in the room.
The heating pads are easy to clean and overall, very durable. The Kane piglet heating pads are built for pigs and piglets so they hold up very well and are slip proof, which is important with puppies.
They have a number of sizes to fit the needs of your breed and if you want to just stick to the pet version, they are just as good.
The Stanfield Heating Mat is designed with pets of all shapes, sizes and species in mind. In fact, it has been recommended for whelping boxes and lizard enclosures. It is safe to use and is a very durable, non slip material.
The heating pads are water proof, which makes them very easy to clean. Like the Kane heating pad, they can be used without the temperature control box to maintain between 30 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit above the ambient temperature in the room.
In addition, you can purchase it with or without the temperature control to boost the temps that you want in your whelping space.
They come in a great size of 2 by 3 feet, which fits many of the larger whelping boxes, making them a great choice for your larger breeds.
K&H Electro Heating Pad
The K&H Lectro-Kennel Heating Pad can be found in three sizes, which makes it a very versatile heating pad for all breeds of dogs. In addition, it is known for being both weather proof and durable, which makes it excellent for use in the whelping box and also in your dog kennels to keep your adults warm.
It is very easy to clean and comes with a machine washable cover. The heating pad maintains a temp of about a 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is perfect for adult dogs. However, not always the best for newborn puppies. I would recommend this more for older puppies who are able to move away from the heat easily.
Overall, it is a very good and versatile heating pad that works in many different ways in your kennel.
RIOGOO Pet Heating Pad
While this is a small heating pad, I do recommend it for breeders who are just starting out. The main reason for that is that it is economical and much cheaper than other options on this list.
While many breeders start out with long term goals, raising a litter of puppies can be an eye opener on whether you want to raise another one or not. Don't stress if you don't; puppies are a lot of work.
But back to the whelping pad. It has a lot of great features that you want to see in a whelping pad. The pad has a lot of safety features, which is great for a newborn litter of puppies.
One feature I don't really like on it is the automatic turn off, but if you are paying attention to your puppies, it is easy to switch it back on. In addition, that auto turn off is not timed but rather switches off when the temp gets too high where it can be dangerous for puppies, making it much more functional than other heating pads with the timed turn off feature.
I would recommend it for smaller breeds as it is quite small. However, you can purchase more than one to cover larger areas.
Finally, it does have a digital thermostat that helps you monitor the temperature of your whelping box.
While still fairly new to the world of whelping heating pads, the DAM-COOL Puppy Warmer is designed with both safety and comfort in mind. The actual heating elements are around the edges of the heating pad. These elements should tuck under the pig rails of the whelping box.
If you aren't sure what pig rails are they are the rails that are around the edges of the box, a few inches above the floor. Puppies can slip under the pig rails to keep from being squished by mom when she is in there. That this area is heated also helps keep them warm and tucked out of way.
In the center, there is no heating element, which is perfect for mom as it keeps her from overheating when she is feeding her puppies. This heating pad is a great option for a lot of breeders, especially if you use the company's whelping boxes.
As you can see, there are many options out there for heating pads. Some are less expensive than others but are still quite functional. However, I often find that it is better to invest a bit more as you will be using them for extended periods and you want them to last. In the end, the heating pad you get is really dependent on your own needs as a breeder.