How to Heat a Whelping Box Properly 101 | Heating a Whelping Box the Most Efficient Way

By: Danielle Harris

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Heating a Whelping Box

Introduction to whelping boxes

Whelping boxes are essential for providing a safe and comfortable environment for newborn puppies.

One of the most critical aspects of a whelping box is maintaining an appropriate temperature.

Importance of a Warm Whelping Box

Newborn Puppy Physiology

Newborn puppies are unable to regulate their body temperature efficiently during the first few weeks of their lives.

This is due to the fact that their metabolism, fat stores, and fur are not yet fully developed.

As a result, they depend on external sources of heat to maintain their body temperature.

Hypothermia Risks

Inadequate warmth in the whelping box can lead to hypothermia, a potentially life-threatening condition.

Hypothermia can cause a variety of health issues, including weakened immune systems, poor growth, and even death.

It’s crucial to provide a warm and comfortable environment for the puppies to thrive.

Types of Heat Sources – Heating a Whelping Box

There are several options available for heating a whelping box, including heat lamps and heating pads.

We’ll discuss these two methods in detail.

Heating Pads

Heating pads are a popular choice for warming whelping boxes. They come in various sizes and styles, including electric and microwaveable options.

Electric heating pads typically have adjustable temperature settings, which allow you to control the warmth provided.

We use the K and H lectro kennel pad. It has a hard shell which is easy to clean, pups won’t destroy it by chewing on it, the cord is thick and has a wire spring around it to protect it from being chewed on. Ours have lasted over 4 years.

To use a heating pad in a whelping box:

  1. Choose a heating pad designed specifically for pets, as these are made with safety features and appropriate temperature ranges.
  2. Place the heating pad on one side of the whelping box, leaving the other side without heat to provide a cooler area for the puppies to move to if they become too warm.
  3. Cover the heating pad with a soft blanket or towel to provide additional comfort and prevent direct contact with the heat source.
  4. Check the temperature of the pad regularly to ensure it remains at an appropriate level.
Heat Lamp and Accessories 
Heating a whelping box
Heat Lamp and Accessories

Heat Lamps

Heat lamps are another effective method for heating a whelping box. These lamps emit infrared radiation, which can provide warmth without direct contact.

To use a heat lamp in a whelping box:

  1. Purchase a heat lamp with a ceramic or infrared bulb, as these types produce less visible light, which can be less disruptive to the puppies’ sleep patterns.
  2. Hang the lamp at a safe distance above the whelping box, ensuring it’s securely attached to prevent it from falling.
  3. Direct the lamp towards one side of the box to create a temperature gradient, allowing the puppies to move between warmer and cooler areas as needed.
  4. Monitor the temperature of the whelping box regularly using a reptile thermostat that hangs into the box, turning off and on as needed.

How to Safely Heat a Whelping Box

Positioning the Heat Source

Regardless of the heat source chosen, it’s essential to position it correctly within the whelping box.

Provide a temperature gradient by placing the heat source on one side of the box, allowing the puppies to self-regulate their temperature by moving between the warmer and cooler areas.

Regulating the Temperature

It’s crucial to maintain a consistent temperature within the whelping box.

For newborn puppies, the ideal temperature range is between 85-90°F (29-32°C).

As the puppies grow, you can gradually reduce the temperature. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature regularly and adjust the heat source as needed.

Using a thermostat will also save you a ton of energy and money in the long run on your electricity bill!

Monitoring the Environment

Keep a close eye on the puppies’ behavior to ensure they’re comfortable in their environment.

If they’re huddling together under the heat source, they may be too cold.

Conversely, if they’re moving away from the heat source and appear restless, they may be too warm.

Adjust the temperature accordingly.


Heating a whelping box is essential to ensure the health and well-being of newborn puppies.

By using a heat lamp or heating pad, you can create a warm and comfortable environment that supports their growth and development.

Remember to position the heat source correctly, regulate the temperature, and monitor the puppies’ behavior to make sure they’re comfortable in their environment.

With proper care and attention, you can help your puppies thrive during their first critical weeks of life.

Now that you know all about your box, read about whelping here


What is the ideal temperature for a whelping box?

For newborn puppies, the ideal temperature range is between 82-90°F (29-32°C). As the puppies grow older, you can gradually reduce the temperature.

How long do puppies need a heat source in the whelping box?

Puppies generally need a heat source in the whelping box for the first three to four weeks of their lives, after which they can better regulate their body temperature.

Can I use a human heating pad for my puppies?

It’s recommended to use a heating pad specifically designed for pets, as these pads have safety features and appropriate temperature ranges suitable for animals.

How often should I check the temperature in the whelping box?

It’s a good idea to check the temperature in the whelping box several times a day, particularly when using a heat source that doesn’t have a built-in thermostat. This will help ensure that the environment remains safe and comfortable for the puppies.

Are there any safety concerns when using a heat source in a whelping box?

Always use a heat source designed for pets and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use.

Keep cords and electrical components out of the puppies’ reach to prevent accidents.

Monitor the temperature regularly to ensure the whelping box remains at a safe and comfortable level for the puppies.

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