Cooling mats for dogs are specially designed mats that are intended to help your dog to stay cool during the summer. They’re a flat mat that can be made of various different materials, containing one of a couple of different things that should theoretically cool your dog down if they lie on it.
During the summer, many dogs struggle to keep cool; and helping them to do so can be a real challenge, even if you provide plenty of water, access to shade, and use fans, as well as avoiding your dog overexerting themselves.
Overheating is a potential danger for any dog in the summer; but for some, usually brachycephalic breeds like the English bulldog, there’s a fine balancing act to walk and overheating can be potentially life-threatening.
Regardless of what type of dog you own, you might have heard of cooling mats and wondered if they’re a good idea, and if they can help you to keep your own dog cooler in summer – as well of course, if they’re safe.
This article will tell you more about dog cooling mats, their safe use, and if they’re helpful to dogs in summer. Read on to learn more.
Dog cooling mats almost always have a nylon, or sometimes vinyl cover, but what is inside of this can vary from mat to mat.
Some dog cooling mats (perhaps the most common ones) are filled with a type of gel, while others may be of a type you fill with water at home.
In terms of how they work to keep dogs cool, some are known as self-activated cooling mats; you might place your hand on it for a few moments and find that it doesn’t feel any different to the ambient temperature, but over a longer period of time, the pressure of your dog lying on it causes the filler to cool, and so, cool your dog down too.
Cooling mats that you fill with water, and some that are gel-filled, work a little differently. A water-filled dog cooling mat cools based on the temperature of the water within it. Some gel-filled mats naturally maintain a lower temperature than the ambient temperature, while others might be designed to be put in the fridge or even freezer for a short while before use to cool them down.
When it comes to dog cooling mats that are self-activated, when your dog lies on them they cool your dog but eventually, warm up enough that they stop doing so; but when your dog gets up, they cool down again and are ready after a while for your dog to come back to again.
Other types of cooling mats that you have to chill or fill with cold water require regular checks and refreshes; they don’t cool themselves down again.
Are cooling mats for dogs safe?
In terms of the temperature of a dog cooling mat, there is such a thing as “too cold,” but this would only potentially occur if you froze a water-filled mat. Keeping a dog cool is important, but very cold temperatures or ice shocks the system of a warm dog and can actually increase overheating.
However, even if a mat is too cold, it is not unsafe as long as your dog can leave it if they want to, and this should always be the case for any mat.
For instance, don’t use a mat on the floor of a closed crate that your dog cannot get off; nor put your dog on a mat in an overheating emergency, where they are unable or unwilling to get up from it even if it is uncomfortable.
Another factor in terms of cooling mat safety for dogs is what they’re made of and what is in them.
If your dog chews, chewing up and eating bits of the cover of a cooling mat comes with the same risks it would if they chewed up any other type of bed.
In terms of the filling of a gel cooling mat, should your dog rip a hole in it, the gel within it should be non-toxic for gel mats; but to be sure of this, buy a mat from a known retailer with a UK presence, as lower-cost imports may not have been made with the same quality and safety standards in place as we have here in the UK.
If your dog is struggling to stay cool in summer, a cooling mat may help; and as long as you follow the caveats mentioned above regarding choosing one that is well made to UK standards and that you don’t use it in such a way that means your dog cannot get off it, it will be safe to use.
Cooling mats are in many ways a better pick than cooling jackets, as assuming your dog isn’t a serial chewer, you can leave them with a colling mat unsupervised. But with a jacket, you need to monitor this and supervise use to ensure you remove it when the temperature of it becomes warmer not cooler.