Heating & Your Pet’s Safety
The use of space heaters is on the rise all across the nation. With promises to raise room temperatures more efficiently and with less cost than central heating, the appeal of heating just one or two rooms and not the whole house and the allure of instantaneous heat, it's no surprise that the fall season brings a plethora of varieties and advertisements destined to lure us into buying the latest and greatest space heaters.
But, when it comes to homes with pets and us humans as pet owners, there's an added (and very important) piece to the household heating/warming plan. If you're hoping to use portable heaters for any heating during the upcoming fall and winter season and you have pets, here are some tips for ensuring their safety and their comfort, right along with your own.
Maintain Safe Distance
If you've ever had a fireplace or a floor heater, you've probably noticed that your dogs, especially small ones, will tend to congregate right in front of it. In fact, dangerously so. Many dogs will press up absolutely as close as they possibly can, making you wonder how they can possibly withstand such heat as such a close distance. When it comes to space heaters, this can be potentially extremely hazardous. Safe guidelines encourage keeping space heaters at least 3 feet from any object: walls, curtains, furniture, etc. This would include your pets. One of the very easiest ways to ensure safe distance is to opt for a wall mounted heater that’s designed to be safe against the wall and will be high enough that your dogs will not be able to block air flow or potentially even burn themselves by touching an over-heated heater. If you are going to use a floor model in an area where your pets roam freely, you may want to consider placing it behind a child fence/gate to ensure that they cannot get too close or tip it over.
Precautions to Follow
Make sure that any space heater you buy is listed for UL (Underwriters Laboratories) safety standard. If it is not, then pick another model. You will also want to guarantee that your space heater has an automatic tip-over feature. This will ensure that in the case of your dog accidentally running into/knocking over the heater, that the power will be cut instantly, preventing over-heating, burns in the floor, fire hazards, etc.
What to Avoid
Never leave your pet in any area in which they cannot get away from the heat. This is especially crucial if you are crate training a dog or puppy or simply have your pet kenneled for any particular reason. Never place a space heater directly in front of a cage or kennel to keep your dog warm; they will be at severe risk for overheating. Remember, your dog cannot cool down and sweat like you can, thus making overheating and heatstroke very serious and real threats.
Keep a constant eye on the cord to ensure that there are not any frays and that your dog has not chewed on it at any point. Also keep tabs on the plug-in to ensure that there are no dents or bends from being yanked out of the wall socket.
You may be tempted to hide the cord to your space heater under a rug, but this can potentially be very dangerous. Instead, consider running it along the wall where your pet will not generally see it and keeping it sprayed with pet-resistant options like Bitter Apple. In addition, always plug your heater directly into the wall socket or a power strip when available. Avoid extension cords if you can, but if not, go with a heavy duty option that boasts at least 14 gauge wire.
Provide Adequate Cuddle Gear
In addition to home heating, make sure your pet has adequate bedding with lots of cozy blankets. This will often be enough to discourage your pup from gluing himself to the front of your heater and will instead encourage him to cuddle up in a pile of fluffy blankets for a long afternoon nap on a cool wintry day.