It can be very unsettling to watch your dog panting like crazy on a hot day.
Dogs don’t sweat very much, and they wear a fur-coat everywhere they go, so it can be difficult for them to stay comfortable when the thermometer climbs sky high.
Fortunately, there is a solution: You can give your dog a cooling bed or matt, which will provide your pup with the laying-on-the-cool-kitchen-floor effect that most dogs love.
Quick Picks: Best Cooling Dog Beds
- #1 Pick: The Green Pet Shop Cooling Pad. This pressure-activated cooling pad uses special gel to keep your pup cool up to 3 hrs. Self-charging after 15 minutes of non-use, and doesn’t require electricity or water!
- #2 Pick: Arf Pets Self-Cooling Mat. Similar to above, this cooling gel pad is ideal for travel as it can be folded up into a small size for on-the-go.
- #3 Pick: Sealy Lux Cooling Gel Orthopedic Bed. This orthopedic dog bed provides serious comfort for your dog with the addition of cooling gel to keep your pup cool.
Why Use a Cooling Bed?
I know what you’re thinking: Why do I need a cooling bed if my dog is content to lay on the tile floor?
I’m so glad you asked; there are actually several reasons cooling beds or mats are a better option and deserve serious consideration. A few of the most notable include:
A cooling mat will usually lower your dog’s body temperature more effectively than the kitchen floor will.
You can use a cooling mat anywhere, including the park or the beach.
You can use a cooling mat to manage your dog – just place it in an out-of-the-way location and then have him hop on.
While cooling mats don’t provide the same amount of cushion that proper mattresses do, they are still softer than the kitchen tile.
How Do Cooling Beds Work?
Cooling beds actually work via the same principle that the aforementioned kitchen floor does: Heat always tries to reach equilibrium in a given area.
When you put a cold glass of water in your hand, the heat moves from your hand into the cup until they both reach the same temperature. Similarly, because the kitchen floor is cooler than your dog is, heat will flow from your dog’s body into the floor until they both reach the same temperature. This is when your dog gets up and moves somewhere else.
The exact same thing happens when your dog lays on a cooling mat. The mat is cooler than your dog’s body, so it pulls heat from his body and cools him off. Of course, your dog is also pumping heat into the air anytime the temperature is below about 103 or so, but conductive heat loss (such as occurs with direct contact) works more quickly.
Cooling mats accomplish the same thing in one of two ways: They are either filled with water or a special heat-absorbing gel. When your dog lays on the mat, his body warms up the gel, which drops his internal temperature a bit. Eventually, the mat will heat, and your dog will go do something else. When this happens, the heat flows out of the bed and into the floor and air, thereby “recharging” it.
Both water and these gels are very efficient materials for absorbing heat, but because it usually takes a good bit of water to match the cooling power of the gel, gel-based cooling mats tend to be much smaller.
What Should You Look For in a Cooling Bed?
There are a lot of cooling mats and beds available on the market, so you’ll have to look carefully at the features of each individual model before making your choice. This will help you get the best cooling mat for your money and ensure your dog gets the kind of cooling mat he deserves.
The Bed Should Be Large Enough for Your Dog
To maximize the rate at which your dog’s temperature drops, you want him to be in as much contact with the mat as possible. If the mat is too small, he won’t fit on it completely and parts of his body will hang off the cooling surface. In fact, it is always best to provide him with the largest mat feasible, as it will allow him to move around a bit as various portions become warm.
The Bed Should Be Easy to Transport
If you plan to take the mat with you to the park or during family vacations, you’ll want to make sure it is easy to haul around with you. Most gel-filled cooling mats fold up into a very compact size, which makes them ideally suited for owners and dogs on the go. Water-filled cooling mats can be emptied for transport, but you’ll need to refill them before each use, which makes them a bit inconvenient.
The Bed Should Be Durable
Most manufacturers claim that the gels used in the manufacture of cooling mats are completely non-toxic, but a few dogs have become ill after ingesting it. Accordingly, you’ll want to make sure the mat is durable enough to stand up to your dog’s claws. Because no cooling mat will stand up to the jaws of a determined pup, it’s also important to avoid leaving your dog unattended with the mat – particularly if your dog is a chewer.
The Bed Should Provide Plenty of Cooling Power
Some mats provide a cooler laying surface than others, and it is wise to consider this factor when making your choice. Not all manufacturers disclose the typical temperature of the mat’s surface, but some of the best cooling mats remain about 15 to 20 degrees lower than the ambient temperatures.
The Five Best Cooling Beds for Dogs
There are a number of cooling beds on the market, but they vary greatly in terms of quality, cooling efficiency and price. Five of the best options are detailed below.
1. The Green Pet Shop Cooling Pad
About: The Green Pet Shop Cooling Pad is a pressure-activated cooling pad that relies on a patented, self-cooling technology to help your pup chill out on hot summer days. This pad provides about 3 to 4 hours of cooling time, beginning when your pet lays down on it.
- Pad requires no electricity or water
- Recharges after 15 to 20 minutes of non-use
- Machine washable (tumble dry on low heat)
- Available in five different sizes
Most owners were satisfied with the Green Pet Shop Cooling Pad and reported that their dog appeared to love lounging on the cool surface. The mat is both easy to use and transport, which makes it a great option for owners on the go.
A few dogs had bad reactions after chewing on the cooling mat, so strict supervision is required during use, particularly with dogs who tend to chew everything they can. A few owners noted that the mat developed thick creases over time, which made the mat uncomfortable to lay on.
2. Arf Pets Self-Cooling Mat
About: The Arf Pets Self-Cooling Mat is a premium cooling pad that works via a pressure-sensitive gel contained inside the mat. Designed to be super-durable, this pad features a puncture-resistant nylon cover that is easy to clean and will last for years.
- Provides up to 3 hours of cooling comfort
- Cools back down after about 15 minutes of non-use
- Made with non-toxic and environmentally friendly materials
- Cleans easily with a little soap and warm water
Most owners loved the Arf Pets Self-Cooling Mat and reported that their dog loved laying on it. Several owners reported that it had performed admirably for a year or longer, and that it was easy to use and clean.
Most of the complaints about the Arf Pets Self-Cooling Mat related to durability problems, but these were relatively rare and most owners found that the mat held up very well. It certainly seems more durable than the average cooling bed. A few owners complained that the mat would actually get quite hot if placed in direct sunlight.
3. Sealy Lux Cooling Gel Orthopedic Bed
About: The Sealy Lux Cooling Gel Orthopedic Bed is a high-quality orthopedic dog bed with layers of comfort memory foam, as well as a cooling energy gel that can help regulate your dog’s body temperature.
- Combination of memory foam and cooling gel
- Pro-Charcoal base absorbs odors for better smell
- Machine washable and waterproof
- Non-slip bottom
Additionally, this bed provides a pro-charcoal base that claims to absorb odors to keep your bed smelling fresh. It also boasts a non-slip bottom, a waterproof liner, and a removable cover that can easily be washed in the machine.
This bed is a great choice for owners looking for an orthopedic memory foam bed that is very supportive, with the ability to also cool off your pup!
Owners are impressed with how comfortable this dog bed seems to be, offering a great combination of memory foam and cooling gel.
One owner feels that the edges of this bed are not soft enough, but this doesn’t seem to be a complaint for most customers.
4. K&H Cool Bed III
About: The K&H Cool Bed III uses water to help keep your pet cool when the temperature soars. To use the bed, you simply fill it with water and let your dog lay on it. Made with a durable nylon/vinyl exterior, the K&H Cool Bed III is built to last and comes with a limited 2-year warranty.
- Bed remains about 22 degrees cooler than the ambient temperatures
- Available in three sizes and two colors (blue and gray)
- Can be stored while empty or filled
- Suitable for either indoor or outdoor use
Most owners were very pleased with the K&H Cool Bed III and reported that their pup loved to lay on it. Unlike gel-filled cooling mats, the Cool Bed III provides quite a bit of cushioning (kind of like a water bed for your dog), which made it more comfortable to lay on.
While most owners liked the Cool Bed III and found that it was quite durable, a few other owners also noted that it is difficult to move the bed once filled, thanks to the weight of the water.
5. K&H Elevated Cooling Pet Cot
About: The K&H Elevated Dog Cot is a raised mesh bed that keeps your dog cool by providing additional circulation under and around your pooch.
- Made of waterproof, ventilating mesh
- Provides additional air circulation to keep your dog cool
- Removable, washable cover
- One-year limited warranty
- Holds dogs up to 150lbs
This bed doesn’t have the fancier cooling features of pressure-activated gel, but it will still provide some cooling relief regardless. The mesh of this cot-style bed is super easy to wash (it’s just a matter of hosing it down), making it an especially great choice for outdoors.
- Small (17″ x 22″ x 7″)
- Medium (25″ x 32″ x 7″)
- Large (30″ x 42″ x 7″)
- X-Large (32″ x 50″ x 9″)
Owners are very impressed with the quality, noting that the bed holds up very well, even with active dogs.
While most seem pleased, at least one owner with a dog who was a big digger and scratcher found that the mesh began to develop holes right away.
Our Recommendation: The Arf Pets Self-Cooling Mat
While most of the cooling mats in our review worked fairly well, the Arf Pets Model received the best user reviews and appeared to work better than most others.
The Arf Pets Mat is one of the most expensive options available, but it is also one of the most durable. This not only means that it provides greater value, but that it is probably a safer option too, as your dog is less likely to ingest any of the gel contained inside.
Looking for other ways to keep your pup cool in the summer? How about:
- Trying a cooling dog vest – these are better than beds for dogs who are on the move a lot and can’t plop down on a chill bed.
- Consider a canine pool. While most kiddie pools will do the trick, check out our list of the best dog-friendly pools that will allow your canine to take a refreshingly cool dip when the temperatures soar.
- Take your dog to the beach – but bring along a life jacket. Bringing your pup to the beach or the lake for a dip is a great way to cool off. Just make sure to have a canine life jacket on hand. That’s right, even dogs need life jackets!
Have you ever used a cooling mat for your pooch? We’d love to hear about your experiences. Tell us which model you used and how your dog liked it!
Did it really help keep him cooler in hot weather? Was it durable enough to last for a long time? Let us know in the comments below.