How to Choose a Pet Cooling Pad
Whether your pup is prone or overheating or your elderly dog deals with swelling, a pet cooling pad can help with temperature regulation. Dogs don’t sweat as we do, and keeping them cool is essential (especially with all of that fur)! Here, we’ll take a look at the various factors you should consider in your dog’s cooling pad, as well as how they work and how they keep your dog cool.
Why Do You Need a Pet Cooling Pad?
Pet cooling pads have a wealth of benefits, and not all of them are associated with warmer weather. Though cooling pads are indeed helpful for warm weather (as we’ll see momentarily), let’s take a look at some of the other applications for these pads as well.
- Warm Weather. When it’s hot outside, your dog is probably panting away when they have to go outside. Think about a few things: your dog’s fur is thick and warm, meant to keep them insulated from colder conditions. Add hotter weather to the mix and they are sure to have some sort of reaction to the heat. Additionally, dogs pant instead of perspiring to help cool down their body temperature. Since they don’t sweat in the same way we do, it’s difficult for them to vent their extra heat. Summer can be a challenge for some dogs, especially those who have thick fur or double coats. Using a cooling pad can help keep them more comfortable during the warmer months.
- Swelling and Joint Pain. Cooling pads can help swelling and joint issues in the same way that ice packs can. Fortunately, it’s a bit easier to get your dog to lay on a cool mat than it is to have them sit still with an ice pack. It’s also great for older dogs dealing with arthritis. The cooling can help them reduce pain and stiffness, and to be able to get that effect while they are comfortable is great!
- Recovery. If your dog has had surgery or an injury before, you understand how complicated their recovery can be. If your vet wants them to chill out (literally), a cooling pad can speed their recovery and help deal with inflammation effectively. You can also rotate a cooling mat with a heating pad if your vet gives the okay!
How Pet Cooling Pads Work
Cooling pads can work in multiple different ways. Multiple cooling methods can help your dog feel more comfortable, no matter the reason they need it.
- Gel. A pad that uses gel to heat is usually self-cooling, meaning that there is little you need to do to get it to work. These pads contain a gel that activates when your dog lays on it. Once activated, the gel radiates cold for a few hours, but can heat up and need to be recharged. Thankfully, the time for gel recharging is usually as low as 20 minutes. A gel cooling pad provides the lowest temperature difference of all types of pads. This difference usually hovers between 5 and 15 degrees, so they probably won’t work for pets that overheat quickly or have long fur.
- Ice and Refrigeration. Some pads require ice or refrigeration to work. These pads are most like icepacks and only really work until they heat up again. Though they require a bit of maintenance and only work for short periods, they do provide the most drastic temperature change. Using an ice insert inside your pet’s cooling pad can reduce their temperature up to 30 degrees. The downside of this type of mat is that it doesn’t work for long. After the ice has melted or the water inside has heated, you’ll need to refreeze or refrigerate the ice pad. This can take several hours to complete.
- Water. Water-based cooling mats are not as common, but they are extremely effective. All you have to do is add a certain amount of water to these beds. For the most part, that’s it – it will stay cool for long periods. Water-based mats still have a recharge time (when they have to cool down again after use), but there is very little maintenance involved after the bed is filled. Unfortunately, you can probably already guess the problem with this type of cooling pad. If it leaks, gallons of water can suddenly be all over your floor. Most are sealed tightly, but accidents do happen.
- Evaporation. Evaporative cooling pads are also way less common than some of the other types on this list. They require more work and provide minimal benefit comparatively. Still, they may be the best for you. To activate this type of pad, you need to soak it for a few minutes, squeeze out excess water, and then allow it to do its thing. As the water evaporates, the pad cools up to 15 degrees. This type of pad works a lot like sweat. If you don’t want the risks of the other pads but still want long-term results, this can be a viable option for your pet’s cooling pad.
Things to Look for in a Pet Cooling Pad
Keep these things in mind as you shop for a pet cooling pad.
The size of the pad is one of the most important things to look for. For a cooling pad to be effective, your pet’s body needs to fit on it. Their head or tail can hang off (maybe even their feet or paws), but the bulk of their body must be centered on the mat for it to be the most effective.
Choose a pad that will fit your dog’s entire body. If your dog is particularly large, choose one that at least fits most of their body. This is the only way that the pad will be effective.
Above, we talked about the different ways that heating pads work: gel, ice/refrigeration, water, and evaporation. Look over those options carefully and make sure you are choosing the right mat for your dog. Choose one with a proper temperature difference, as well as one that you will be able to maintain.
If you own a husky, a 5-degree temperature difference isn’t going to cut it. While temperature difference estimations are just that (estimations), they can help you make a decision. If you need a drastic temperature difference, choose a pad that can cover the most ground. If you just want your pup to stay cool on a hot day, a smaller difference can be okay if they aren’t outside for long.
Most mats can be used indoors or outdoors. Still, some can only be used inside. Make sure that you are purchasing a mat that you can use wherever you need to. This is especially important if you plan on using the mat outside, as some inside mats are not okay for use outside.
When looking for an outdoor mat, durability is one of the most important deciding factors. Make sure that the mat can hold up to the elements and won’t tear easily from rocks, branches, or rough spots on your porch.
Choosing a washable mat can be extremely important if you are using it where it might get dirty. Unfortunately, most cooling mats won’t be washable. If you need to do more than wipe it down, look for an evaporative mat, or else one that uses a refrigerated insert inside a washable cover.
Finally, choose a durable mat. You don’t want a water-activated mat leaking all over your floor. Likewise, you don’t want a gel mat to be easily torn open, exposing your dog to the (mostly non-toxic) gel interior. If your dog is prone to being destructive, make sure you choose a mat that can stand up to that. If your cat sharpens their claws on everything in sight, consider that as you shop.