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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
About: The Unleashed Pets Cooling Pad is a gel-filled, pressure-activated cooling mat, which helps keep your pet 10 to 15 degrees cooler than room temperature. Made with a puncture- and water-resistant cover, this pad is built to last and keep your pet cool for one summer after another.
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.
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.
About: The Animal Planet Self-Cooling Pet Mat is a durable, non-toxic and latex-free cooling mat that features a solid gel, pressure-activated core. Lightweight, foldable and easy-to-clean, the Animal Planet Self-Cooling Mat is perfect for use at home or during vacation, and it can be used indoors or outside.
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:
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.
Last update on 2018-06-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Ben is a lifelong environmental educator who writes about animals, trees, outdoor recreation, science and environmental issues. He lives with his beautiful wife and spoiled-rotten Rottweiler in Atlanta, Georgia. Read more by Ben at FootstepsInTheForest.com or @FootstepsForest on Twitter.
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