Heating Pad for Dog Arthritis

Heat therapy for dogs can reduce pain, ease stiffness, and relax muscles.


Can heat therapy give your dog arthritis pain relief? Yes. A specialized dog heating pad for arthritis can bring some benefits, and it may feel good for your dog on a cold day too.

For long-standing chronic pain, heat can provide both relief and healing to your arthritic dog. And heat doesn’t just feel good to your dog’s aching joints, it also increases blood flow. Muscle spasms often respond to warmth and stiff joints loosen up. Applying heat to your dog can help your dog get the most out of rehab or stretching warmup routines.

Veterinary physiotherapy and rehabilitation expert Dr. Marianne Dorn, of England, says heat therapy enhances local tissue oxygenation and metabolism, reduces muscle spasm, and increases connective tissue extensibility and the pain threshold (Companion Animal Vol 20, No 11).

Acute Injury? Chill

For an acute injury, cold therapy is usually best to reduce inflammation. For example, if your senior Labrador aggravates an old stifle injury consider cold compresses for the first 24 hours. Cold therapy is also the best option for up to 72 hours post-surgery.

Cautions With a Dog Heating Pad for Arthritis

Be careful when applying heat or having your dog stay on a heating pad. You can inadvertently overheat the area and cause further trauma. Heating pads made specifically for pets have heat settings favorable to a dog’s needs. A human heating pad can be set too high, and overdoing the heat is especially a concern with an older dog, injured dog, or a very young pup.

Always check your dog frequently to assess the dog’s comfort. It’s often best to have a layer like a towel between your dog and the heating pad. Generally, 30 minutes is the maximum time to apply heat to your dog, although he could benefit in from 10 minutes or so.

Warm Moist Towels

An inexpensive heating “pad” can be made at home by putting a damp towel in the microwave. Remember, when you take it out, if it is hot to your touch, it will be too hot for your dog. The warm, moist towel can be applied directly to a stiff joint. The same is true for corn or rice bags—don’t let the dog eat them!—or a hot water bottle. Warm therapy is excellent for your dog’s arthritis pain, but the key is warm, not hot.


  1. Would be nice to try. But all of my seniors have been very intolerant of heat. I keep the thermostat at 63 in winter for them, yet my 12-year-old Lab, who has severe arthritis, often goes out the dog door to relax outside in the cooler temperatures. It’s a real struggle in summer to try to keep the house at 70 for them. They would be miserable if I put heating pads on them. It takes Carprofen (NSAID), DGP, Wobenzym, homeopathy, glucosamine supplement, fish oil, and monthly acupuncture and laser treatments to keep her comfortable.