Unlike us, dogs are not able to perspire, relying only on their primitive panting behavior to release excess heat trapped inside their bodies. Even thin coated pooches can suffer from excessive heat since the panting mechanism is simply insufficient to cool their body down especially on warmer days. While you can put them in a fully air-conditioned room or aerate their kennels or dog crates with an electric fan, you’ll end up with a heftier energy bill at the end of each month.
A dog cooling mat can help address these issues by cooling off your dog’s body while saving you hundreds of dollars on your annual energy expenditures. Sadly, not all pet chilling units are designed in exactly the same way. You don’t need to worry though as we’ve prepared a listing of the best-rated dog cooling pads in the market. This list is the product of a long and thorough research to provide your dog only the best.
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Cooling Pads for Dogs Buying Guide
We understand the apprehension you may have when it comes to buying a canine contraption such as a cooling pad. Most newbie dog owners will readily admit that they are baffled by the sheer number of products that promise to cool down their doggies’ bodies especially in the hot months. This is why we’ve come up with something that will help you gain a better understanding of what this device is for, how it works, and the various features that you need to be looking for in one. Hopefully towards the end of this buying guide you will be more than ready to make the correct decision as to which product to choose for your dog’s cooling needs.
What is a Cooling Pad for Dogs?
As the name implies a cooling pad that is specifically designed for canines is a mat that aims to lower the core body temperature of pets. There are 2 fundamental types of these products available in the market. These include the following.
- Water beds
These are almost synonymous to the waterbed that we know and some of us actually use in our homes. It is filled with water as the principal heat absorbing substance of the product. Unfortunately, this has fallen out of favor since it is heavily dependent on the integrity of the fabric that contains the water inside. A small puncture can render it unusable, although some can easily patch it up to extend its utility.
- Gel pads
These cooling pads are now preferred over water-filled products as it is relatively low maintenance and a lot easier to clean, too. Moreover, most are flexible and portable that they can be easily stored into almost any space. If you remember those anti-fever patches that we place on our kids’ foreheads every time they have fever, these are almost similar to the gel cooling pads for dogs.
How Cooling Pads Work
To appreciate how cooling pads work it is imperative to understand how thermal energy is transferred from one object to another because this is technically what is occurring in such canine products. It should be remembered that the movement of thermal energy typically occurs from an object with a much higher temperature to another object or even space that has substantially lower temperature. Let us take a look at the two methods of heat transfers that occur in cooling pads.
In its simplest form, conduction is the movement of heat from a higher temperature source to a lower temperature destination. We are not going to go into deeper detail as to the principles of physics involved in such a process. What is sufficient to understand is that heat molecules will move from an area with higher temperature to an area with lower temperature.
Let’s try to illustrate this using our canine cooling mat. These devices have a much lower temperature provided by either the water or the gel that is contained within the bladder or compartment of the pad. The dog’s body is generally warmer, having higher temperature relative to the pad. As such, the heat will move from the dog’s body and into the pad. This is the very basic explanation as to how canine cooling pads actually work.
Now, the efficiency of the heat transfer is quite dependent on several factors. For example, the difference between the temperatures of the origin (dog) and the target (pad) can play a role in the duration and effectiveness of the heat transfer. You see, heat transfers from one point to the next as long as one of these points is either higher or lower than the other. The net movement of thermal energy stops once equilibrium has been established. Simply put, if the temperature of the pad is already equal to the temperature of the dog, then conduction stops.
As such, if you have a cooling gel that is several tens of degrees colder than the dog’s body temperature, the longer will be the cooling effect since it takes time to reach equilibrium. Conversely, the smaller the temperature difference or gradient between the dog and the pad, the shorter the duration of the pad’s cooling effectiveness.
Another factor that you need to consider is the thickness of the pad since heat will have to travel across the entire gradient of this object. The thicker the pad the greater is its cooling effectiveness since it will be able to accommodate more heat molecules coming from the dog. On the other hand, a pad with a smaller surface area and a thinner cross-section will heat a lot faster.
The physical properties of the heat-absorbing elements in the pad also play a factor in heat transfer efficiency. Water can absorb heat relatively well, but synthetic gels have physical properties that allow them to absorb more heat, thus prolonging their cooling effectiveness. Now, the more gel substrate one has in a particular product, the greater will be the product’s cooling effectiveness.
Once the temperature of the cooling pad is already at equilibrium with the dog there can no longer be any net movement of thermal energy between the two. As such, thermal radiation begins to move heat away from the source and into the surrounding air. Just think of the sun which continuously emits thermal radiation.
Applying this concept into our canine cooling pads, the heat that was ‘absorbed’ from your dog will have to be dissipated into the surrounding air. Since the pad is now ‘hotter’, it will be more efficient in radiating this ‘heat’. This is how cooling pads get ‘recharged’.
Be sure to read our review of the best heated dog pads for some great alternatives for when the temperature drops.
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Features to Look for in a Cooling Pad
Now that you know how cooling pads for dogs work it’s time to look into the various features that should help you decide on which product to buy.
- Thermal efficiency
You have learned that the thermal efficiency of a canine cooling mat can be affected by a variety of factors such as the temperature gradient between your dog and the mat, the cross-section of the product, and the physical properties of the substrate being used in such products. It is for this reason that while different products may have the same features they can vary in their thermal efficiency with some units able to cool your dog for a good 2 hours while others can do it for 4 to 5 hours. Common sense will tell you that it is better to get a product with a significantly longer cooling effect.
However, this is not the only factor that needs to be considered. You also need to check the radiation capability of the pad. Some units can return to their original state within 10 minutes while others may require a longer time.
For other products to help relieve the discomfort of hot weather, make sure you read our review of the best cooling vests for dogs.
Choose a product that will last several years and not just a few days. Unfortunately, many of these products often are no match to a really tenacious chewer or clawer. Regardless, the durability of materials should always be considered in your decision.
Cooling pads are not the only products that you can use to help cool your pooch during the summer. There are also cooling beds. However, given that beds are bulkier and require some form of assembly limiting their usefulness to permanent areas, cooling pads are preferred. These can be easily folded or even rolled to be stored or carried on trips. Technically, you can bring these pads anywhere you go.
- Ease of cleaning
Like all things, dog cooling mats should also be easy to clean. The good news is that majority of these products today come with waterproof materials that you can easily wipe clean. However, do take note that these are still essentially made of fabric materials. You should never use any chemical or cleaning solution that might degrade the integrity of these materials.
Cooling pads are one of those contraptions that pooches in warm climates really can benefit from. These products work by transferring heat from your dog and then dissipating this same heat into the environment. In choosing a product that best suits your pooch, you’d have to take a look at its thermal efficiency, portability, durability, and ease of cleaning and/or maintenance. And if you have doubts about where you should start, our list of the best cooling pads for dogs will give you a head start.