Dogs are reasonably good at controlling their temperature — this is clear from the fact that they live all around the world in places with very different climates. However, when temperatures become particularly hot during the summer in Australia, dogs not only become uncomfortable, they can even fall sick from overheating. It’s up to owners to help their pets keep cool. A top solution is cooling mats for dogs — but do these really work?
Understanding Cooling Mats
Dogs keep themselves cool by panting and through sweating (although just on their paw pads). To further reduce their body temperatures, they search for cool surfaces where they can lie.
How cooling mats for dogs work is by providing a much more effective cold surface than the floor. Cooling mats are filled with phase change materials (PCMs), which allows the mat to absorb heat at a specific temperature that it then disperses back into the environment. This keeps the mat cool even if the dog remains lying on it for a long time.
The Benefits of Cooling Mats
There are several benefits of cooling mats for dogs that make them one of the best options for helping your dog stay cool during the hot summer months.
A cooling mat activates in response to the change in weight and pressure when a dog sits or lies on it. This means that, unlike with other solutions, there’s no need to keep the mat charged, turn it on, or freeze it.
Suitable for Use Anywhere
Cooling mats don’t take up much space, meaning you can easily bring one along with you on a summer road trip. The mats are also suitable for all sorts of environments, including indoors, outdoors, and the backseat of your car.
Use for Cryotherapy
If your vet has recommended cryotherapy to treat pain or inflammation, a cooling mat may be a comfortable way to administer it. Cryotherapy can be effective for helping your dog recover from an injury or surgery, as it reduces blood flow to the painful area to keep swelling to a minimum.
Provides Relief for Heat-Sensitive Dogs
Some dogs are particularly sensitive to heat. This includes puppies, senior dogs, overweight dogs, long-haired dogs with a double coat, and dogs with medical conditions that make it harder for them to regulate body temperature, including brachycephalic dogs.
Factors to Consider
To narrow down your choices to the best cooling mats for dogs, there are a few things to consider that impact things like the convenience and effectiveness of cooling mats for dogs.
For the above benefits, look for a gel-based mat. Most PCMs are paraffin based, as this is non-toxic, meaning it is safe if it leaks. Plus, the gel stays cool for up to three hours, after which you just need to leave it for a short time before the cooling function reactivates.
It’s important to choose a mat with a soft covering that your dog will enjoy lying on — this will ensure your dog does use the mat! You may like to encourage your dog to start using the mat and make it more comfortable by placing it in his dog bed. If your dog suffers from chronic joint pain (for example, if he has arthritis), you may like to pair the cooling mat with something that has plenty of padding, such as an orthopedic memory foam bed.
Gel cooling mats are ideal for dogs that are exposed to the typical hot temperatures of Australian summers. However, if your dog is exposed to extreme temperatures, you may need an ice mat. The problem with these is you need to freeze them before use, which means you’ll need to keep enough free space in your freezer. Plus, they’re unsuitable for use outside your home, such as on car trips.
Talking to people who have used cooling mats will help you see how useful they can be. Other pet owners can also give you tips for using cooling mats for dogs. The following are a few recommendations that come up often.
Place the Mat in a Cool Place
Your cooling mat will heat up and be less effective if you leave it in direct sunlight. Whenever possible, opt for a shaded spot.
Provide Your Dog with the Mat Frequently
Take full advantage of the fact that your cooling mat will reactivate infinitely. If you notice that your dog is panting heavily or looks uncomfortably hot, provide him with the mat. This is extra important if your dog has any of the heat-sensitive characteristics named above.
Maintain Your Mat
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to keep your mat in good condition. Check for any damage regularly to avoid leaks that will cause a mess and mean your mat is no longer effective.
For more examples of real-life experiences, check out our reviews of cooling mats for dogs.
Alternatives to Cooling Mats
A gel cooling mat is not the right solution for all dogs. For instance, if your dog chews everything he comes into contact with, a cooling mat may not last long. Plus, even though the gel is non-toxic, it’s better if your dog doesn’t consume any — it could result in mild gastrointestinal complaints.
A possible alternative is a water-filled mat, which you fill with an amount of cold water according to how cold you want the mat. The disadvantage of these is they warm up faster than gel cooling mats. Plus, if your dog is a chewer, the mat may still have a short lifespan — he just won’t get a mouthful of gel. A better solution could be to monitor your dog closely while he’s using the mat to ensure he doesn’t chew it.
If you decide a cooling mat is not right for your dog, there are other things you can do to help him keep cool. This includes making sure he has plenty of cold water, offering him ice cubes or other frozen treats, allowing him to relax in an air-conditioned room, or giving him a pool of water to lie in outside.
Now that you’ve seen the importance of keeping dogs cool in hot weather and that a cooling mat is an effective solution, it’s time to find the right mat for your dog. The DogFriendlyCo cooling mat stays up to 10 ºC cooler than its surroundings, folds up (making it easy to take with you on outings), and comes in two sizes to suit all breeds. Find it in our online store along with other summer essentials. Don’t forget to also check out our other best-selling products, which will enrich your dog’s life in other ways.