Best cooling mats and pads for dogs in 2024, tried and tested | CNN Underscored (2024)

The best dog cooling mats we tested

Best dog cooling mat: Green Pet Shop Cool Pet Pad

The best cooling mats and pads for dogs can be a game changer if you’re looking for ways to keep your dog cool this summer.There’s a wide variety of mats that utilize either a cooling gel or a water-filled vinyl dog bed to help your pet stay cool in indoor and outdoor environments when the weather outside is hot and frightful.

To see if these cooling dog mats actually work, we rounded up and tested seven of the leading models, using top brands and internet reviews to guide us in selecting the best ones. Then, our editors created an objective series of real-world and controlled tests to suss out the best dog cooling mat for your money. We also utilized the help of a canine tester, a black lab mix with a double coat named Marla, to let us know which mats were cozy enough to doze on.

Below, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of how each cooling pad performed in our rigorous testing rubric and why only one mat took home our top prize.

Portable, durable and chic, this cooling mat was as at home on a camping trip in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains as it was on my living room floor. My dog, Marla, especially gravitated to this mat when it was placed atop her ordinary dog bed for extra padding.

Best dog cooling mat: Green Pet Cool Pet Pad

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Our tests found that Green Pet’s Cool Pet Pad was the best of the bunch when it came to functionality, durability and portability. In terms of affordability, it sat right in the middle of the pack, and it was one of the few cooling pads that our doggy tester, Marla, went back to again and again throughout our month of testing, even as other mats got shunned.

In our durability tests, in which we scraped each mat as hard as we could against a rock wall and then walked around on each mat in shoes for a full minute, the Cool Pet Pad excelled above the rest, looking good as new even after a last-minute camping trip to southern Colorado.

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We also found that, like the two other gel mats we tested (the Chillz Dog Cooling Mat and the Arf Pets Self-Cooling Solid Gel Pad), the Cool Pet Pad was easy to pack down for camping or road trips and, after being placed in the hot sun for over an hour, recharged back to a chilly living room temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 15 minutes. When I placed heavier, water-filled mats like K&H Pet Products Coolin’ Comfort Bed outdoors in the sun for an hour, then brought them back indoors, they only cooled down from 90 to 81 degrees F.

I could also place the Green Pet Cool Pet Pad’s slim shape onto Marla’s preexisting dog beds for extra cushioning, which she seemed to love on hot days in Boulder and on an impromptu June trip to Valley View Hot Springs when afternoon temperatures soared to 91 degrees F. But best of all, it’s stuffed with non-toxic gel, so there’s no need to worry if your dog punctures it. However, the brand does recommend taking your pup to the vet if any gel is ingested.

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Want a fun bonus tip? Because of its petite size, the Cool Pet Pad can be supercharged by placing it into a refrigerator for several minutes before letting your dog snooze on its comfy gel. This was Marla’s favorite way to enjoy the pad on hot afternoons. I cleaned the mat using a wet cloth and a mild soap, then wiped it clean with water.

Perhaps I’m vain, but I didn’t like that nearly every pet cooling mat we tested only came in one color: primary blue. This color, unfortunately, does not match a single thing in my condo and looks cheap and thoughtless when placed around the house. Green Pet Shop went the extra mile with the Cool Pet Pad and manufactured it in a soft blue-gray tone, which is inoffensive in multiple rooms within my home. Honorable mention for style goes to the ZonLi Dog Cooling Mat, which, apart from being made with a plush fleece material, comes in a chic off-white.

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The Cool Pet Pad comes with a 12-month warranty against manufacturer’s defects, during which the mat can be replaced. In addition, Green Pet Shop extends a 50% MSRP discount on a new pad if your dog tears the original within the first 30 days of use.

Is it perfect? No. In my month of testing, I’ve found the mat heats up quickly in direct sunlight and works best indoors or in a shaded environment. But this mat will absolutely help keep your dog cool and comfy this summer season, and it packs down small for travel. My Cool Pet Pad is already a staple on warm restaurant patio outings and car camping trips.

How we tested

Our team of editors came up with an extensive, multi-question rubric to put every dog cooling mat on this list through a series of rigorous tests. A seven-mat selection was made based on various fan-favorite and bestselling products. The cooling pads on our final list were subjected to a series of controlled, in-home tests to determine which were the winners, and which were not so hot. The two cooling mats that scored highest were also taken out for additional testing in sunny parks and on scorching balconies in Colorado.

Design

  • Portability: We marked down the weight and full size of each mat. We made a second note of the weight of each mat when full of water. We folded up each mat and measured the minimum travel size of each product. We also noted the different sizes that each mat came in and noted whether there was a good universal size that might work for multiple dogs.
  • Cleaning and care: We read through each manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations, and noted if each mat was to be wiped clean, or if it was machine-washable.
  • Price and warranty: We compared prices for every dog cooling mat, noting if the quality scores seemed comparable with the price point listed online. We wrote down the warranty length and terms for each mat and noted how they compared to competitors.

Performance

  • Cooling effectiveness: We used a temperature gun to jot down each mat’s starting temperature. After noting the temperatures in a climate-controlled room, we placed each mat outdoors in the sun and went out and checked the temperature to judge cooling duration every 15 minutes, for a total period of two hours. We noted how long the gel mats took to “recharge” and if they could be safely placed into a fridge. We also noted how long it took to refill the water-based mats.
  • Durability: We made note of the materials used to construct each mat. We walked around on each mat for a full minute, while wearing shoes, and noted any scuffs or scrapes. We scraped each cooling mat five times against a rock wall and noted any tears or leaks. We pored over the available online reviews for notes on each mat’s durability over extended periods.

Everything you need to know about dog cooling mats

Dog cooling mats come in various sizes to fit small and large dogs alike, but there are a couple of ways they can help prevent your dog from overheating. Cooling pads use a thick gel or water filling to create a cooling barrier between your pup and the hot floor. The idea is that this squishy filling will absorb body heat slower than a regular dog bed, hot porch or concrete patio, which brings your dog’s body temperature down. In our testing, the beds with a thicker filling tended to heat up slower than their thinner counterparts.

Dog cooling mats that use a vinyl outer lining and require the user to fill them with water from a sink or a hose are better for dogs that chew their beds, as they do not utilize any potentially harmful gel that your pet could ingest. On the other hand, these water-filled beds are also much heavier and trickier to transport than their gel-based competitors. Because of this, they are easier to use in and around a single location, such as a home with a large deck or sunny living room, because they need to be filled when in use and fully drained when folded and stored away long-term.

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Only one dog cooling mat we tested (the ZonLi Dog Cooling Mat) was machine-washable. The others were made with durable nylon or vinyl, which can be easily wiped clean with mild soap and water, should your pet have an accident or get the mat dirty.

After your dog has laid on a cooling mat, or it’s been exposed to a hot, outdoor environment for roughly one hour, the mat will need to be “recharged” by bringing it into a cool or air-conditioned room for 10 to 20 minutes. In our testing, the gel-based mats recharged significantly quicker (basically twice as quickly) than the water-filled cooling pads. If you really want to get the water beds colder faster, you could empty and refill them, but that’s a lot more work than waiting for the gel mats to cool back down via an AC unit or in your refrigerator.

Another benefit of the gel cooling mats is that because of their thin, foldable profile, they are ideal for travel or pairing with a dog’s preexisting bed. Our canine tester, Marla, seemed to appreciate when a cooling mat was on top of her familiar bed, as she could chill out while lying on a familiar surface.

Other dog cooling mats we tested

It's affordable, but our dog tester didn't like the water-bed feel of this pad.

Though this cooling mat was the most affordable option we tested and was made with durable nylon, it felt like little more than a plastic bag of water when filled and set out in the living room. Marla, the canine tester, never gravitated to it once in our full month of testing.

Filling this bed with 4 to 6 gallons of water was a real chore. It's also quite expensive compared to others we tested.

Though it’s pricey, I initially loved the plush feel of the Coolin’ Comfort Bed when I first removed it from the box. However, my glee was quickly lessened by the fact this large pad needed to be filled with 4 to 6 gallons of water. It weighed a whopping 40 pounds when I finally dragged it into my living room and, likely because it felt more like a water bed than a plush couch, Marla didn’t lie on it a single time in our month of testing. Even more surprising was how much better the Cool Bed III scored in our temperature tests.

This pad is similar to our winner, but at a higher price.

This pad was a bit more expensive and a bit less durable than our overall winner, Green Pet’s Cool Pet Pad, but it provided good surface area and portability in our on-the-ground tests in Colorado.

This mat wasn't as durable as our winner, which kicked it out of the running.

We loved the portability and ultra-squishy, soft gel inside the Chillz Dog Cooling Mat. What we didn’t love so much was that it suffered a noticeable abrasion on our rock wall scrape test. Due to its gel filling, this would not be a good pad for dogs that chew their beds or have long nails.

If you want a water-filled cooling mat, go with this one. The medium size took 2 to 3 gallons of water to fill, but it scored best in our temperature tests.

The Cool Bed III scored at the top of the pack in our controlled tests with a temperature gun. Its polyvinyl casing scuffed a bit on our durability tests, but not enough to leak water. The downside? It must first be filled with 2 to 3 gallons of water (for a size medium) to be used. This made the bed difficult to transport, even around my condo, as it weighed 24 pounds when full.

This mat didn't have as much cooling ability as the others we tested.

The ZonLi Dog Cooling Mat was easily the softest and the most like a traditional pet bed of the mats we tested, and we loved that it was machine-washable. However, because it was made with fabric and contained no gel or liquid inside, it was also one of the quickest pads to heat up in our outdoor tests and after Marla snoozed on it indoors.

FAQs

You can spot-clean most dog cooling mats and pads with soap and warm water. Only one pad we tested, the ZonLi Dog Cooling Mat, was machine-washable.

Dog cooling pads typically stay cool for about one hour. After your dog has been lying on it for that long, put it in an air-conditioned room or throw it into the refrigerator to recharge it. This normally takes about 10 to 20 minutes.

Best cooling mats and pads for dogs in 2024, tried and tested | CNN Underscored (2024)
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