Infrared heaters are commonly used in animal shelters, barns, kennels, zoos, and terrariums. Infrared heaters are an excellent choice for your pet due to their ability to specifically heat the animal and the area in which they prefer to play or relax. However, not every infrared heater works similarly and they differ widely in their safety. Infrared heating panels are the safest choice since they do not have elements that become too hot.
Infrared heating is commonly used for animals and pets
Infrared heating is often used in animal care. For example in:
- Chicken brooding lamps
- Reptile terrarium heating
- Cat and dog kennels
- Zoo cage heating
Safe and unsafe infrared heaters for your pet
There are many types of infrared heaters. Infrared panels are one of the safest heating options available for your animal. Others, however, can be very dangerous as they can become extremely hot.
Quartz and carbon infrared heaters become extremely hot. Their internal elements can get up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit (1000 degrees Celsius). These heat lamps are still often used in animal shelters but need to be far away and thoroughly shielded in order for the animals to not be able to touch them.
I would not recommend these types of heaters for your pet. Especially not if you plan to use them for a cat or a bird since they might still be able to reach the heater even through safety measures.
Infrared panels heaters are a safe option
Infrared heating panels are very safe to use for pet heating. These panels do not become very hot and can be touched for a few seconds without being burned. Therefore, even if your pet would come in contact with the heater, no harm will be done.
Infrared panels will not get hotter than 210 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius). Smaller panels like a 300w model will not get much hotter than around 100 degrees F (50 degrees C). This amount of heating should be enough to heat a small spot for your pet.
As you can see in the picture above, infrared heating panels can easily be mounted to the ceiling where they cannot be reached. In this way, you can easily use them to heat the area where your pets prefer to relax, play or sleep.
A customer review where someone used infrared heating panels to heat their tortoise (source) said: ‘My Sulcata tortoise is very happy with the heat and has started eating and moving more.’
Zone heating is a great solution for pets
I think infrared heating is a great solution for heating your pet’s sleeping spot inside the house. Since infrared heaters are zone heaters, they only heat the objects and animals in the zone where the infrared heater is placed. Therefore, they can for example be used for heating just the cat tree. In this way, their favorite (sleeping) spot is being heated without any heat loss to the rest of the room.
I do recommend allowing your pet to have the option to get close to the infrared heater or find a spot further away. In this way, they can choose for themselves how much warmth they prefer.
So, try not to install a heater too close to their only sleeping spot. If you want to heat their sleeping spot with infrared, pay close attention to their behavior. You don’t want to make their sleeping spot too hot and therefore uncomfortable.
To manage the perfect temperature for your pets, you can consider using a thermostat to regulate the infrared heater.
Infrared zone heating is applicable in outdoor spaces
Infrared heating is a great solution if you are looking for a way to heat a (semi-) outdoor space such as a dog kennel or bird aviary. Since infrared heaters do not heat the air, their heat is not lost due to air movement. Normal warm-air heaters are not at all useful for outdoor enclosures since the warm air quickly leaves. Infrared heaters are a perfect solution since they do not heat the air but rather heat the object, people, and animals that are hit by its warming rays.
I wrote an article in which you can easily find out how much wattage of infrared you need per room. This article includes a calculator that is able to show the wattage needs for any room, including an outdoor area. Infrared wattage calculator: how many watts do you need for any room?
Hanging an infrared heating panel from the ceiling is very safe
By using a panel as your infrared heater, you can simply mount it to the ceiling to provide heating similar to the sun. In this way, your pet cannot reach the heater and you avoid the heater standing in the way or getting damaged.
What does the scientific literature say?
There are not too many actual scientific studies done on the impact of infrared heating on animals. However, it is very unlikely that pets and other animals will react differently to infrared than humans. Since infrared is sun-like healthy heating, pets and other animals will benefit from infrared just as we do.
The benefits for humans are, among others, improved skin health. You can find more benefits of infrared heating in my article: The benefits of infrared heating: health and safety
I can imagine that the effects of infrared are different for fur or feathers than they are for skin. However, just like humans, animals are naturally adapted to infrared heat since it is the same heat that is coming from sunlight.