UPDATED MAY 2017
As our so-called Southern California “Winter” comes to a close, and we move into Spring and Summer, temperatures are going to start rising fast. Owning a Husky in Southern California has forced me to become a semi-expert on keeping a dog cool during the worst of the heat, and I wanted to pass some of the helpful info I’ve learned, and the products I’ve used, over the last few years, to help make my dog as comfortable as possible as we face the hottest months of the year. Because there are so many things to cover, I have split this into three separate blog post: Beds, Outdoors, and At Home. So let’s get started.
The typical dog will sleep for more than half of the day, and because they spend so much time on their beds, why not make sure they’re sleeping comfortably in the heat? The following are three types of beds I use for my dog, Sierra, which are designed to keep her cool during the hot days, and sometimes nights, of Summer.
I’m going to start with my dog’s favorite product, the Cool Bed III by K&H. This bed has been a life saver, especially when it’s approaching triple digits outside. My dog sleeps on it every night and it’s the first place she goes to lay down after we exercise regardless of the temperature outside. The easiest way to describe this bed is to label it a mini water bed for dogs. Now I know what your thinking, water beds + dogs = a big messy accident waiting to happen, but this product is made to withstand normal abuse from your furry friend. The outside of the Cool Bed is made from a nylon and vinyl material that won’t puncher when a dog’s sharp nails get onto it. My dog, a 70lb. husky, has even jumped directly on it, multiple times, from the top of our bed, and we have yet to see any issues. If you are still on the fence, this bed also comes with a 2-year warranty which may help alleviate some of your hesitations to try it. When the bed first arrives, you’ll need to fill it with water. If you have a hose, this can be done in a minute or two. If you don’t, you can use a water pitcher, it will just take a little longer. Inside the bed, where the water goes, is a foam core. This helps to better dissipate the heat coming from your dog’s body when they lay on it, and keeps the bed cooler longer. The way the bed works is by constantly sucking the heat from your dog, into the bed, and as long as the ambient temperature is less than your dog’s normal body temp (99°-102°), it will continue to cool your dog off all day.
Like a lot of people, we have carpet in our bedroom. The only way our dog, Sierra, will sleep in the same room as us at night is by having the Cool Bed at the foot of our own bed for her to lay on. Even if you have a cooler surface, like tile or wood flooring in your room, the Cool Bed still comes in handy by providing a comfortable place for your dog to sleep, thanks to the cushioning effect of the water and foam core. The tile under the bed will also help pull the heat being absorbed by the bed, into the floor, making it more effective. Another benefit of using this on a hard surface will be preventing your dog from developing bald spots on his elbows, these usually develop when they constantly lay on a hard surfaces.
The only downside to this bed is it isn’t very portable. Because of the water weight, the larger sizes of this bed can get relatively heavy. I used to drag the bed from our living room to our bedroom every morning and night, but after about 6 months of this, the bed started to come apart at the seams. I contacted the company, and they replaced it under warranty, but I now know not to move it too often, and haven’t had a problem with any leaking since. One last tip on this bed, buy the darker of the two colors they offer. It helps keep the dirt from showing, which means you won’t have to clean it as often. We bought the lighter colored one the first time around, and had to clean it all the time to keep it from looking like it was smeared with dirt.
Like I stated before, my dog uses this product almost all day and most nights and it has definitely been worth the money. It comes in three sizes, two colors, and the price ranges from $24-$59. If you are thinking about getting one, here is a short video from the company’s website to give you some more info:
This product, also from K&H, is like a portable version of the Cool Bed but instead of water, it has gel. The gel makes it much thinner and lighter than the Cool Bed which also makes it more portable. The gel core works similarly to the water version, in that it cools by sucking the heat away from the dog’s body and distributes it into the gel. The biggest disadvantage of this pad is it works for a much shorter period before the core reaches the same temperature as the dog, and has to be re-charged by keeping the dog off it for 30 minutes or so. You can speed the process of recovery, as well as make the gel core stay cold longer, by putting the pad into the fridge or freezer. I often freeze the pad in the morning, and take it out during the warmest part of the afternoon. I currently use this pad in my living room, because it’s easy to pick up, and move out of the way, when we have company over. I also use this in my car when we go on longer road trips to help keep her cool in the back seat. It’s made of the same durable material as the Cool Bed (vinyl and nylon), and is relatively easy to clean. It folds up into thirds for storage, which is why it’s so easy to keep in a fridge or freezer. The down side of this bed is you sacrifice cooling power for portability. If you are looking for the longest lasting and coolest product, go with the Cool Bed III, but if you need something portable, this one works great. I need the best of both worlds, which is why I own both of them. These gel pads range from $15-$35 based on size, and can be purchased through Amazon.
Now that we’ve covered indoor beds, let’s switch to the great outdoors, or in this case, your backyard. Even though the two previous beds are meant for both indoor and outdoor use, they both share the same flaw, they don’t do well in direct sunlight. The heat from the sun will quickly heat the beds to a point that makes them uncomfortable for your dog to lay on. So instead, I prefer using an elevated pet bed in the backyard because it keeps your dog off the hot ground, it doesn’t heat up with direct sunlight, and you can easily move it to the area you, and your family, are hanging out without worrying about ripping it. I personally use the Coolaroo brand because of its affordability as well as its overwhelmingly positive reviews on Amazon.
One big benefit of this type of bed is the mesh surface your dog lays on is breathable. This allows for fresh air flow to the underside of your dog. This feature nice but is especially important for dogs. The underbelly and paws are two areas where heat easily escapes the dogs body. Keeping those areas open to air flow will help keep your dog cool on hot days. Also, if you’ve noticed your dog’s elbows are starting to lose fur and develop calluses, this bed is a necessity. When dogs have to lay on cement or other hard surfaces for the majority of their day, many of them will start to lose hair on their elbow areas, which if left untreated, can turn into calluses. Once they have these, it will take a long time for the hair to grow back in, and sometimes, it will never come back. These beds will help keep this from happening by giving them someplace soft to sleep when outdoors.
The Coolaroo’s are also durable. They are made to withstand mother nature, and when your dog decides to go romping in the mud just before laying on it, they can be hosed off without any issues. The company also sells replacement mesh, so you won’t have to buy a whole new bed when the time comes to replace the mesh. Based on the size you order, the beds can be found for $25-$45. The majority of them last for years, so they are definitely worth the money in both mine, and my dog’s opinion.
There are a few other types of cooling beds out there, but from my experience, these three beds cover any area your dog might want to lay down and relax. If you think I have missed an important one, please comment below because I love checking out new products. Otherwise, check out Part 2 or Part 3 of this dog cooling blog post next.