Life is different when you have a dog, for both of you. You begin to understand a lot more about your dog as your dog begins to understand more and more about you. Indeed our canine companions come well equipped to deal with the environment and the changes that they themselves are subjected to, however one aspect always catches them off guard: the heat.
It is no secret or any surprise that dogs come with a coat of fur. Some come with thin coats, others come with thick woolly ones, and in both cases they feel a lot of discomfort when summer rolls around, and they have to deal with heat. This is not a new problem, as it has been around for ages now, and humans have come up with a rather neat and at the same time elegant solution for our canine companions: the cooling pad.
The idea behind
The idea behind the cooling mat for dogs is easy to understand, and it has a bit to do with physics. When you are in a cold room which has a heating source present, you will notice something interesting. The top part of the room is heated while the bottom half stays relatively cool.
This is because hot air is slightly lighter than cold air which causes it to rise above the cold air, and it can create a hot top cover for the interior while leaving a nice cool blanket for the bottom. The mat works with this concept, encouraging the dog to sit and lie down on the mat in order to get cooler as a result of the cool blanket of air.
Another side of this concept is the fact that this is not just an ordinary mat as it is made out of materials that absorb and dissipate heat instead of promoting it. Indeed, this little mat will not keep your canine friend warm during the winter, but it will keep him or her cool during the summer.
Benefits of the cooling mat
There is a bit of controversy here which was started by radical animal rights groups. However common sense tends to win against these groups in the vast majority of cases and this case is not different.
Besides the aforementioned benefit of keeping your dog cool during the summer, the cooling mat comes with a couple more surprises up its sleeves.
- It stops the dog from shedding so much during the summer — all dogs shed, all the time, however they shed a lot more during the summer or during particularly warm days. The cooling mat will keep them cool and it will stop them from shedding so much all over the place. Our piece on a grooming tool to use when your pooch is shedding will help keep your dog neat.
- It keeps the dog clean — without this mat, your dog will lie down on the floor, thus becoming dirtier than before. This mat provides a nice protective layer on which the dog can lie down and relax without the dog getting dusty, dirty or feeling uncomfortable due to the dust that is on the floor.
- The mat acts like an insulating layer — the floor is a drafty place to be. It is easy to catch a cold, have sore joints, have ear problems, etc. We humans know how uncomfortable this experience can be, and your dog is not exempt from it. When subjected to the draft at floor level, the rushing thin airflow and the cold, your dog will become ill.
From a cold to rheumatism, your dog can develop the same problems as you would by lying on the floor for an extended period of time. The dog mat can and will insulate the dog from this airflow, keeping him or her a lot more comfortable, a lot more safe and a lot more heartier as a result of that.
- His or her own territory — That’s right, in a very short period of time, that mat will become your dog’s personal territory. It’s easy to argue that the entire house is his or her territory, which is true, but not personal territory, the territory that only your dog sits on. That being said, there are a lot of advantageous effects that come with the concept of personal territory, and you will see your dog attempting to keep it clean, always sitting in it and protecting it against intruders.
- The comfort — This one is easy to understand, however it must be noted. It is, in fact, a lot more comfortable to sit on anything other than the floor. The dog mat offers your canine friend a nice and comfortable surface that he or she can sit or lie down on in full comfort.
Disadvantages that come with the cooling mat
A cooling mat, even though we don’t like to admit it, brings a couple of disadvantages to the table as well. In order to make an educated decision on whether or not to buy this mat for your 4 legged companion, it is at the very least fair that you receive the bad side of the
- It takes up space — It will not take up the entirety of the room nor an absurd amount of space in your house or apartment. It will take up the required amount for your dog to sit, lie down and even stretch comfortably. The amount of space depends on the size of the mat, and the size of the mat depends on the size of the dog that the mat will be bought for, so it is safe to assume that the amount of space will not be that much of a problem, but still some people consider this an inconvenience.
- It is not advised to move the mat once placed — This has nothing to do with the technical specifications of the mat itself, or with the way in which it was designed, but rather with your dog’s psychology.
Once you place the mat down and the dog settles on it, that spot becomes his or her spot. Moving the mat around causes the dog to become a bit confused and it lessens the bond that he or she develops with his or her spot, and you can potentially wind up with a mat that your dog will not care about. It is highly recommended that you avoid changing the position of the mat once placed down, except if the situation absolutely demands it.
- One more thing to clean — as mentioned before, all dogs shed their fur, all the time. Your dog will spend a lot of his or her time on the mat, shedding on it. The rest of the house will become less filled with hair and fur, however the mat will be full of it. It goes without saying that the mat will have to be washed or scrubbed every now and again, preferably weekly or bi-weekly, depending on the dog breed you chose. It’s not really that big of a deal, and you can be done with it in a couple of minutes.
- Your dog might prank you with it — there are various breeds that are quite intelligent, and out of those few intelligent breeds, the majority of them will be a bit mischievous. The Husky, the German Sheppard and the Miniature Bull Terrier are notorious for this, and make no mistake about it, they will prank you and they will use the mat against you.
So if you are the proud owner of a mischievous dog breed, and you buy a dog mat for them, you might just get to see, and be a part of, some hilarious moments such as, being tripped randomly with the mat, having your dog put the mat in odd places like the bathroom, the front door or in the middle of your bed. Your dog might also like to munch on things, and our piece on how to stop your pooch from chewing everything is a great read.
Picking the right mat for your dog
Buying a cooling mat for your pooch is not exactly as easy or and straight forward as you might think. There are quite a few things that you have to keep in mind before making the purchase, and finding a mat that is perfect for your dog can be a pain in the neck at times.
First off, you have to ask the question “How much space does my dog need in order to be comfortable?” A rule of thumb is that your dog has to be able to stretch on it and lie on his or her side with legs half extended and still be comfortable.
This can be a pain for Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds owners because these are the tallest dogs in the world, however there are other things to keep in mind. Breed characteristics aside, each dog has his or her individual personality, likes and dislikes certain comfort conditions. That being said, the dog’s preferences have to be taken into account when buying the mat. Also, if you have older dogs, their needs will be different as we’ve outlined in one of our articles on taking care of senior dogs.
Does your dog like to lie down on tougher surfaces? Does your dog prefer softer fabrics? How much time does your dog spend lying down on average?
Interestingly enough, the dog mats come in an extraordinarily wide range, some of them even resembling smaller dog beds, so there is a lot of choice.
What not to buy when it comes to dog mats
There are some materials and fabrics that your dog will either not respond well to, downright refuse to stand on, or cause him or her a lot more problems than it would solve.
At the top of the list is rubber, and the rubber mats that come out of it. These mats will either be very thin or bulky and thick, either way it is not a good choice for your dog.
First off, it can gather a lot of bacteria and it is not exactly the easiest thing to clean. It can also gather sweat, be generally uncomfortable and cause your dog to develop joint problems in the future because the way in which he or she sleeps. We know how joint pain can decrease the quality of our pet’s lives, so our piece on hip pain in dogs and its effects will give you more knowledge to address this problem.
Second on the list is plastic, and yes plastic dog mats exist. They are generally thin, they come in a wide variety of colors, and they tend to do a lot of harm to your dog. First off, they work against the principal of a cooling mat, and they actually trap heat a lot of the times.
They deteriorate easily, they can crack, and generally provide a rather though and uncomfortable surface for your dog to stand, lie down and even sleep on. A good thing to note is the fact that dogs generally refuse to even stand on the plastic mats, much less sleep on them.
Foam comes in 3rd place and it is a problem for dogs. It might be covered with a fabric or a straight up sheet of foam, but in both cases it will annoy the living hell out of your dog. Foam is a material that is used in insulation and furniture, with the specific property o trapping heat and providing warmth.
This is counterintuitive to say the least when you are out to cool your dog off.
Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that dogs, just like us, sweat constantly. That foam mat will act like a glorified sponge and soak up all that sweat, leading to the development of harmful bacteria, foul odor and overall discomfort because of the alterations that are made by moisture and overall wear and tear.
If you find that these mats are not right for your dogs, why not build a dog bed that you can customize as we’ve shown in our previous article under the health and care section.
There are a lot of choices out there if you are looking to buy your best friend a mat to lie down and sleep on. Make sure that you understand the breed and your dog as an individual beforehand, and that you come prepared before making a purchase.
The right choice will give the dog a lot of comfort, a lot of joy, and the possibility to play some pranks on you, however the wrong on will end up annoying your dog and costing you money in the process.