Are Heat Pads Safe For Guinea Pigs? (Explained Here)

Keeping your guinea pigs warm can be a challenge. Heat pads are certainly an option. After all, humans use them for different reasons. But, just exactly how safe are they for your little friends? I did a little digging and here’s what I found.

Typically, heat pads are a wonderful, safe way keep your piggy warm during colder weather. Just make sure that you use the heat pad correctly. Guinea pigs can easily overheat or get burned unless you follow all directions for safe use and choose a heat pad that comes from a trustworthy company. 

are heat pads safe for guinea pigs

There’s no need for your guinea pigs to be cold (or in danger) if you use the pads properly.

Read on to learn more about the common heat pad options for guinea pigs and the benefits and risks for each ones.

What Sort Of Heat Pads Do Guinea Pig Owners Commonly Use?

are heat pads safe for guinea pigs

If you’re anything like me, you want to know what other people doing. I mean, it doesn’t hurt to ask, right? Just to gain some perspective.

So, I manually sourced some information from guinea pig owners who use heat pads with their cavies.

I was actually surprised that they were so popular in the guinea pig community. There are cheaper ways to heat your guinea pigs’ cage, but heat pads are very convenient and piggy owners seem to love them!

Here’s what I found:

  • 58.9% of people used microwavable heat pads with their cavies
  • 39.3% of pet owners used electric pads (mostly ones designed for small pets)

Apparently, microwave heat pads are more popular. But, according to the owners, both types work quite effectively.

So, what type of heat pad should you go with? Let’s talk about the heat pad options that are available.  

Some guinea pigs enjoying a heating pad. Too cute!

What Type Of Heat Pad Should You Buy?

First of all, you need to remember that guinea pigs don’t need an insane amount of heat to be comfortable. They originate from the Andes, so they tend to do better in cooler weather.

However:

They do need an ideal temperature range between about 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 16-24 degrees Celsius.

This brings us to the heat pads – they can help you maintain the comfortable temperature in your guinea pig’s enclosure.

There’s basically two types of heat pad: microwavable and electric

These devices come in various shapes and sizes so you’ll definitely be able to find one that will suit both your needs and your pets’ comfort levels.

The information below will help you figure out which one is best for you cavies:

Are Electric Heat Pads Safe For My Guinea Pigs?

Electric heat pads have become a popular way to keep guinea pigs (and other small pets) warm and cozy.

Typically, electric heat pads are quite safe, except for…

You guessed it. The electric chord.

Chewing through an electric chord can give your little friends quite a shock – it can even be fatal.  

That’s the main reason why microwavable heat pads are preferred by many pet owners. However, that doesn’t meant that you shouldn’t use a electric pad. Many guinea pig owners do.

Plus, there are electric heat pad brands with an extra layer of protection (steel, my friend) around their power cords which make then safer than others from chewing or coming into contact. 

Let’s face it, an electric heat pad is slightly better option if you live in extremely cold areas. In some cases, more warmth may needed for your cavies added at times due to climate conditions indoors (such as during winter).

But, there’s some things you should know before throwing one into their cage.

Pros:

  • Usually is larger, so multiple piggies can use the space for warm. 
  • The power chord typically has a remote controller attached to it.  If it has multiple heat settings, you can choose one that’s best for your furry friends.
  • Auto shut off can make it safer for use
  • Some come with chew-resistant chords, which is ideal if your little friends like to chew on things

Cons: 

  • Energy costs might go up if you need to use it for extended periods of time to keep your fur babies warm.
  • Will have to hide the power chord in some way; it’s a chewing, electric hazards
  • Small risk of overheating your guinea pigs, if you don’t leave them space to get away from the heat pad if they need to.
  • Are usually more expensive than microwavable ones

Guinea pigs can’t sweat. They don’t have a natural way to cool themselves down. So, before using heat pads with your guinea pigs (or any other small animal) that can’t get up and walk off of the heated pad if they get too warm, talk to your vet. If your piggies can’t get away from the heat, they might overheat.

Are Microwavable Heat Pads Safe For My Guinea Pigs?

Typically, microwave heating pads are much safer than electric ones for guinea pigs. They don’t have electric cords to be chewed on, which is a major plus!

Pros:

  • Don’t stay quite as hot as electric pads, so the risk of overheating your guinea pig is quite low
  • Convenient and easy to pop into the microwave
  • Less expensive than electric heat pads
  • Don’t have to stress about having your piggies’ cage near an electric socket to get it to work
  • No wires to worry about

Cons: 

  • Some don’t hold heat as long as the electric pads, so you might end up having to reheat them over and over again
  • Can’t control how hot the pad becomes or stays
  • They can cause burns (especially when they first come out of the microwave) if you do not have something to cover them with, like a blanket or towel
  • If you have multiple guinea pigs, you still have to heat the pads individually, which can take a LONG, tedious time

Safely Using Heat Pads In Your Guinea Pigs Cage

It’s important that you keep your fur babies in the right environment for their comfort level.

You don’t want to expose your little friends to extreme temperatures in the winter months (or any other time for that matter) that could hurt them.  

Whether it’s cold weather or hot weather, it’s important to keep your piggie’s body heat stable.

Fortunately, there are ways to keep your guinea pigs warm while keeping them safe. Here’s a few tips on how to safely use heat pads inside of your guinea pig cages:

1. Don’t Cover The Entire Cage Floor: You don’t want to cover up your entire guinea pig cage because you want your piggie to be able to move away from the heat of the the pad when necessary. Your piggies are good at regulating their temperatures. They’ll know when it’s too hot and they’ll find somewhere else to go until things cool down again.

2. Keep the Electric Cord Hidden: Your piggies will receive a shock if they chew through the cord while using the heating pad. To avoid this problem, drill a hole through the side of the cage and protect the space with duct tape. If it’s chew-resistant, then you don’t have too much to worry about (actually, you can avoid this issue completely if you use a microwavable heating pad).

3. Keep It Dry: Whether using microwavable or electric heat pads, place them away from your piggie’s water bowls and bottles. You don’t need any moisture getting into the heat pads or into any extra bedding that you may had put into the cage.

4. Use A Thermometer:  If you place a thermometer in (or near) your cavies’ cage, you’ll know for sure if it’s too cold and if they’re probably losing too much body heat to be safe.  

5. Only Use Pet-Safe Heat Pads:  Avoid using the heat pads that humans use as a heat source for your furry friends. Sure, it’s the budget-friendly option. A lot of people already have heat pads in our homes that we use. But, human heat pads aren’t chew resistant and you’re opening up your furry friends to a lot of danger by using them. Plus, a lot of them get just a little too hot, even on the lowest setting, for your furry friends.

You will want to give your pet enough space that they can decide if they want the heat pad or not. Your piggies know when they’re too hot and need to cool down. Don’t put it in a confined area so that they don’t have any other choice but to go on the heat pad!  

Why Use Heat Pads In Your Guinea Pig’s Cage?

Heat pads are a wonderful way to keep your guinea pig warm and cozy when the temperature drops, especially if you only have one pig, for a number of reasons:

  • are budget-friendly
  • don’t require you to heat the entire room
  • are energy-efficient (for the most part)
  • easy to use

My recommendation? Pull out a heat pad when extra bedding and blankets just aren’t keeping your furry friends nice and toasty.

What Else Can You Use As A Heat Source If You Don’t Want To Use Heat Pads?

If you don’t have the budget or just don’t feel comfortable using a heat pad in your piggie’s cage, there are a few other options, you can use to keep your guinea pigs warm. 

Here they are:

  • Rice sock: Just take a sock, fill it with rice, and tie the end of the sock closed. Toss it into the microwave for 45 seconds to a minute. Test how hot is is by pressing on different parts of the sock. It gets VERY hot, very quickly, so you might want to wrap it in a piece of fleece to keep your fur babies safe – you want them to feel warm and not scalded. Also, rice socks don’t stay warm for very long, so be prepared to reheat it regularly.
  • Warm hot water bottle: The simplest and ultimate, old school solution! Fill a bottle halfway full of warm water, wrap it in a fleece blanket or cloth. Then place it in your guinea pig cage. Your cavies can snuggle up to it and enjoy the extra warmth.
  • Turn up the thermostat in your house: It’ll be a little expensive, but it’s an easy way to make sure that your pets are staying nice and warm during those frigid nights.
  • Use a portable electric, space heater:  If you buy one that has a built-in thermostat (and other safety features), you can program it to turn off if the temperature gets too low or too high in your piggie’s room. It’ll also prevent you from having to heat up the entire house at night – which can get a little expensive.
  • Fleecy Cuddle Cups and Snuggle Sacks: These little guys are great because they provide warmth without being bulky. Plus, they come in all sorts of colors and patterns which makes them fun for your piggies to play around with. 

In A Nutshell: Heat Pads and Guinea Pigs

As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider when looking for the perfect heat pad.

The bottom line is there are many safe ways to keep your pet warm in cold weather but one of the safest and most effective methods is using a high quality electric heating pad.

Make sure you use it correctly, so that your little friends don’t overheat or burn themselves. And choose the right one for your pet’s needs.

If you choose heat pads, I’d love to hear your heat pad guinea pig success story. Comment below and let me know how heat pads worked for your piggies!

Otherwise just post a comment letting us know what heat methods you use for your guinea pigs in the cold weather. 

Thanks for reading!

Beck, A. (2013). Guinea pigs: Keeping and caring for your pet. Enslow Pub.

Can Guinea pigs live outside? Temperature, security and other care advice. (n.d.). Exoticdirect. https://www.exoticdirect.co.uk/news/when-can-guinea-pigs-go-outside-temperature-security-and-other-care-advice

DVM, S. L. (2015). The Guinea pig handbook. Barron’s Educational Series.

How to keep your Guinea pigs warm in a winter power outage | The Guinea pig blog – Happy cavy. (2017, February 4). Live Guinea Pig Webcams and Blog | 3 guinea pigs, 4 live web cams. https://happycavy.com/how-to-keep-your-guinea-pigs-warm-in-a-winter-power-outage/

What do I need to know about my Guinea pigs’ health? (n.d.). RSPCA Knowledgebase – Let Australia’s most trusted animal welfare charity help you answer the big questions. https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-do-i-need-to-know-about-my-guinea-pigs-health/#signs-of-a-potential-problem

Your Guinea pig’s diet. (n.d.). Saving pets, Changing lives – PDSA. https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/looking-after-your-pet/small-pets/your-guinea-pig-s-diet

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