Do pets need to be kept warm, and if so, which ones?
It is completely unnecessary to keep a home warm for most common pets.
This is the view of many experts in animal health. Indeed, keeping a home too warm can cause animal health issues.
Experts also agree that leaving televisions, radios or lights on is not in the best interests of pets.
17 million UK homes (a whopping 59%) have pets.
Despite the advice of experts above, research in 2019 in the UK revealed that nearly three quarters (72%) of pet owners say they leave the heating on just for their pets when they leave the house, and a quarter (27%) keep the temperature the same for their pets as they do for themselves, at a very cosy 20C.
That works out at more than 12 million homes heating there homes more than they would if they didn't have their pets. That's a staggering 42% of UK homes.
This same piece of research showed that many people leave TVs, radios and lights on for their pets. As you will see in the conclusions of this study, this is mostly completely unnecessary: it not only wastes a significant amount of energy, but can cause also cause stress to pets.
There is further info below, including specifics on a number of different pets, and actions you can take to save you money if you aren't completely convinced by the experts.
Cats and dogs
Cats and dogs definitely do not need the heating left on.
Cats and dogs, in particular, have higher blood temperature than humans and cope perfectly well at temperatures humans would find too cool. Vets and experts in this area all agree on this point.
It is only in relatively recent history that cats and dogs have started sleeping inside homes, and, even then, only in central-heated homes in the last 50 years or so. Throughout most of history, domestic dogs have slept outside (often in kennels), and cats slept outside too.
Dog and cat ticks and fleas breed more quickly if they are permanently in a warm environment.
If you DO feel you want to do something to give your dog or cat somewhere a little warmer, then get them an igloo bed or a thick soft liner for their bed. In one of these, their own body heat and fur will keep them as toasty as they want to be!
If you are still determined to do something to help keep your cat or dog really warm during the day, without the central heating on, then use a heated pad like the one below. These are inexpensive (typically £10-30), and come in a variety of sizes and with different temperature settings and timers.
If you decide to get one of these, I strongly recommend you look for one that actually states its power consumption (in Watts or W). Many don't. If they don't state it, you can't work out how much energy they use. They range in power from around 10W to 60W.
The cost of running a 10W pad on its highest setting for 8 hours will be a little under 2p (cheap!), while a 60W pad would cost 13p. (These costs assume the price cap unit cost of energy from Oct 23 is 27 pence/kWh.)
The following web articles from authoritative sources all say heating shouldn't be left on:
Other animals may have different needs. Below are some links to advice regarding other common pets. I know nothing about these animals, but the people behind these websites do!
Hamsters - DO have needs more like humans according to this web site.
Gerbils - similar to humans, but they don't like to be too warm - RSPCA info.
Chinchillas - impressively, these gorgeous things are used to being very cold in their natural environment (below freezing!) - see here.
Rabbits - very tolerant of cold. These fellas are amazing and certainly don't need central heating.
For hamsters and gerbils, small versions of the heated mats shown above might work well under their cage, if you have the ability to control the settings on the mat.
Whatever pet you have, investing in a thermometer that you can leave near where your pet is during the day will help you manage things and keep an eye on minimum and maximum temperatures. For the pets above, it is only really the hamsters and gerbils that may need support.
For other pets, there will be good information online that will help you decide what is right for them and for you.
If you are in any doubt of the recommendations I have pointed to in this article there are many authoritative animal health and veterinary web sites that support the above information.
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