Tried and tested: cooling mats and vests for dogs

Derri Dunn
15 June 2022 - 11 min read
cool coats and mats

Is your dog starting to feel the heat?

There are lots of simple, cheap ways to keep your dog cool in summer, but there are also some great products to help with this.

In June 2022 more than half of 500 pet owners we surveyed told us they had bought a cooling product to help their pet through the hottest days. Nearly 88% of them had invested in a cooling mat, pad or bed, while 27% opted for a cooling coat or vest.

We don’t want you to waste money buying the wrong things for your dog, so we’ve rounded up the best cooling mats, beds jackets and vests and tested them on our panel of real pooches – from tiny Chihuahuas to a giant mountain dog.

Read the reviews to find out what we thought and – more importantly – which ones our canine co-workers highly recommend.

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A person high fiving a dog
A person high fiving a dog

Our expert panel

Find out more about our expert testers, in size order…

Wallace, Karakachan

At over 50kg, Wallace is our biggest and hairiest product tester. His suspicious and paranoid temperament is perfect for putting products through the ‘is this too weird/scary to allow within 10 paces’ test.

Ava, Alaskan Malamute

Ava knows that she deserves only the best. She’ll be casting an expert eye over over the quality of the products on test – they’ll have to be both chic and sturdy to pass muster with this high-end hound!

Tiffin, Cockalier

Tiffin’s the baby of the bunch, at just six months old, but is gaining experience fast as an expert product tester. This plucky pooch won’t hold back from destruction testing – she’ll be putting every item through its paces at 100mph.

Team Chihuahua

Monty, Pugsley and Archie come as a package and represent testing on behalf of multi-pet households. They’re a tough bunch to impress, particularly Monty, who’s known to be ruthlessly critical of any weakness or imperfection.


Dog cooling mats and beds reviews

We've tested four different designs of cooling mats and beds.


Wilko Pet Cooling Mat

The Wilko Pet Cooling Mat is our budget option. Near identical cooling mats are available from other high street retailers including Home Bargains, Aldi and online through Amazon. They're usually available in any colour you like, as long as it’s royal blue.

Wilko cooling mat

  • RRP: £4-£8

  • Sizes available: Small (40cm x 45cm) | Medium (50cm x 65cm) | Large (70cm x 91cm)

  • Size tested: Large

  • Doggy tester: Wallace | Karakachan | 50kg

At just £8 for the largest size we weren’t expecting advanced technology from the Wilko Pet Cooling Mat but we were surprised by how heavy it felt — there’s a decent amount of cooling gel in it for the price.

Despite that, it’s thin and the largest size available was a bit inadequate for a dog of Wallace’s stature. Owners of very large dogs might have to look to more expensive brands to get a size that’ll work for them.

When Wallace sat on part of the mat the gel squished away and didn’t really support him, so he wasn’t particularly happy to lie on it on the ground. It did feel noticeably cold when the gel moved inside the mat though.

In our outdoor test his temperature on the thermometer actually increased after about 20 minutes of him basking on the mat. Although as it was a sunny day, it was probably just his skin warming up in the sun. He would have moved to the shade if he was becoming uncomfortable.

When the mat was instead laid in a bed he rarely uses he voluntarily slept in this spot for several hours. He’s a very warm dog so he seemed to find some benefit from it, but when I felt the bed after he moved it was actually warm to the touch.

Wallace isn’t a chewer, but we reckon his Cockapoo housemate, Millie, would have made short work of the mat given half the chance. The back of the mat says it consists of ‘polyurethane gel and polyurethane foam’. Neither are toxic, but I image they’d make a bit of a mess, especially in a carpeted room. For that reason, we wouldn’t leave this one unsupervised with a chewy pup.

Verdict: Best on a budget

If you don’t have much to spend, the Wilko mat makes a welcome cool layer on top of their regular bed. It’s a bit thin and unforgiving on bare ground and doesn’t seem to cool as effectively as some of the more expensive mats and beds tested.

Zooplus Soft Cooling Mat

The Zooplus Soft Cooling Mat has a softer look and appearance than the plasticky blue mats that we see more commonly. We want to find out if it’s a case of style over substance.

Zooplus cooling mat

  • RRP: £19.49-£24.99

  • Sizes available: 68cm x 49cm | 88cm x 49cm

  • Size tested: 68cm x 49cm

  • Doggy tester: Monty, Pugsley and Archie | Chihuahua cross | 4kg

This cute cooling pad with its polar bear print is a lot prettier than the slightly clinical looking Wilko and Scruffs mats. But a scan of the product information reveals it’s essentially the same stuff below the bonnet as the ultra-cheap Wilko mat – polyurethane gel.

The surface has been covered with a softer, smoother and more padded layer. It’s not soft or fleecy, more like the sort of padded, wipe-clean surface you’d see on a baby changing mat. But it was a lot less ‘weird’ feeling for flightier dogs to sit on – like our slightly temperamental trio of Chihuahua testers.

It doesn’t squish and give in the same way the Wilko mat did so even with three pint-size pups on board, no one ended up against a hard floor. The coolness of the gel appeared to get through to the surface of the mat pretty well so essentially it had a similar cooling effect to the cheaper mat. But in an altogether cushier, more even and aesthetically pleasing design.

The two size options available for this mat are pretty small. We only tested the smaller option – plently of room for three Chihuahuas to share, but the bigger size available would be far too small for our Malamute and Karakachan testers.

Verdict: For little dogs who like a little luxury

The price is really keen for a mat that has better weight distribution and comfort features than the most basic ones available. A nice balance between shiny plastic mats and soft material beds.

Scruffs Cool Mat

The Scruffs Cool Mat looks pretty similar to cheaper mats at first glance… but has a few important differences.

Scruffs cool mat

  • RRP: £16.99-£44.99

  • Sizes available: Small (50cm x 40cm) | Medium (77cm x 62cm) | Large (92cm x 69cm) | X-Large (120cm x 75cm)

  • Size tested: Large

  • Doggy tester: Ava | Alaskan Malamute | 30kg

Good news for big dog owners – Scruffs have an X-large size available for plus-size pooches or those that like to share. Ava only tested the large size, but it’s great to have an option for really big dogs, albeit at a much higher price than the other options on test.

First impressions of the Scruffs mat were positive. The more premium price gets you thicker material and a slightly more ‘full’ feeling mat than the cheaper ones we tested.

There’s a small but important design difference between this mat and the at-first-glance near identical £8 Wilko mat – the gel filled ‘ribs’ run widthways instead of lengthways. That might not matter much with smaller mats but with the larger sizes we noticed it meant the dog got better support from the gel, with it having less room to migrate out from beneath them.

The materials are listed as a gel that’s 98% water and a ballistic nylon coating. Sounds tough, but it wasn’t noticeably different looking to the cheaper mat. Cooling performance seemed similar too – like the Wilko mat this cooling pad felt warm where the dog had been sat afterwards.

Verdict: Best for big or heavy dogs

With a larger size available and a better design to stop the gel squishing about, this was a good option for large hounds.

Scruffs Cool Dog Bed

The Cool Dog Bed from Scruffs offers something a bit different from the other cooling pads and mats. Some dogs really just like to have some sides on their bed, so this is an interesting alternative to placing a cool mat in or on their regular sleeping spot.

Scruffs cool bed

  • RRP: £49.99-79.99

  • Sizes available: Medium (75cmx53cmcm) | Large (90cm x 60cm) | X-Large (100cm x 75cm)

  • Size tested: Medium

  • Doggy tester: Tiffin | Cockalier | 7kg

Like the Zooplus cooling mat, this is essentially the same as the more basic mats below the surface, but with a bit of a makeover to make it more comfortable. It has a mesh base and comfy cushioned sides. The sides themselves don’t have any cooling properties.

Tiffin’s human particularly liked how it looked nicer than the ‘cool pack’ style blue mats, so it blended in with the decor. She tested it out in room that gets pretty warm, but doesn’t have direct sunlight.

Tiffin didn’t favour the Scruffs bed over her regular sleeping spot on the sofa, despite its cooling properties. She also didn't cool down and actually seemed to get warmer while sitting on it. But this observation wasn’t limited to the Scruffs bed – we saw it with the Wilko and Scruffs mats too and reckon it’s just inevitable when they have a long nap there and make the bed a bit warmer.

Verdict: An all-in-one solution

It’s nice to have a simple all-in-one bed that incorporates a cooling pad and sides – as long as your dog finds it comfy. For the price you might prefer to just add a cooling mat to their regular bed though.


Dog cooling vest and coat reviews

Now for our test of canine-cooling wearables...


Kurgo Dog Core Cooling Cest

This Dog Core Cooling Vest from Kurgo is the sportiest looking of all the cooling coats we tested – it looks like it’s ready for summer adventures.

Kurgo cooling vest

  • RRP: £44.99

  • Sizes available: XX-small | Small | Medium | Large | X-large

  • Size tested: X-Large

  • Doggy tester: Wallace | Karakachan | 50kg

We really liked the mesh look of the Kurgo cooling vest – it looked and felt like a premium product, with tough stitching, heavy duty zips and wide webbing straps. But it's slightly padded, which feels counterintuitive for something that’s meant to cool your dog down.

That ‘padding’ is actually what soaks in and holds the water to keep your dog cool. It has to be thoroughly wetted before you put it on your dog. The wetting does make it feel quite a bit heavier too.

Our tester Wallace has a somewhat suspicious temperament and he’s a sensitive soul. We thought he’s be horrified by the feel of a wet, heavy garment against his fur, but he was actually really unfazed.

Adjusting the straps was a doddle and the vest was roomy for his deep chest and a great fit on the shoulders. It did come up short on his back though. Wallace is a giant breed but sadly even the biggest size didn’t give him the kind of full shoulder-to-tail coverage Ava the Malamute had from the coat she tested.

Wallace was oblivious of the coat on his walk and we really liked the zip in the middle that gives you access to a harness clip, meaning you’re not limited to using a collar and lead.

But the real magic came when we took the coat off. Not only was Wallace several degrees cooler after running about in the sunshine, he was completely dry while the coat was still a little damp. Witchcraft!

Verdict: Comfortable, cooling and looks great

Being so large, hot and hairy, Wallace has to take care walking on hot days. We think this coat could really extend the times of day he could go out in summer. It’s just a shame there isn’t a longer size for really large dogs.

Ancol Dog Cooling Coat

Ancol’s Dog Cooling Coat is a simple no-frills offering at a very competitive price.

Ancol cool coat

  • RRP: £13.79-25.49

  • Sizes available: XS | S | M | L | XL | XXL

  • Size tested: L

  • Doggy tester: Tiffin | Cockalier | 7kg

Little Tiffin was the closest size match the jacket we had to test. Unfortunately it was still far too big and swamped her. She’s still a growing pup but we could probably have sized down by at least one size for a better fit on the length.

The velcro straps are really quick and easy to fit. The downside is that pets and velcro sometimes don’t mix - all that fur and outdoor activity can clog the velcro hooks and stop them working and for that reason we prefer a coat with clip fasteners.

Despite being oversized, the coat brought Tiffin’s temperature down even after being outside. It didn’t leave her magically dry like the more expensive Kurgo coat though – her fur was a little damp.

It’s a convenient way to keep her cool by holding water near her skin but it doesn’t have the same high-tech features as some of the others – a damp towel wrapped on her might have had a similar effect.

Verdict: An inexpensive starter coat for hot-weather walkies.

It’s a great price – but you might want to spend more for better comfort and dry-feel features for longer summer adventures.

Prestige Cool-Coat

The Prestige Cool-Coat is an unfussy design, but does have a nice size range and a choice of a few pastel colours.

prestige cool coat

  • RRP: £20.99-£44.99

  • Sizes available: X small | Small | Medium | Large | X large

  • Size tested: Large

  • Doggy tester: Ava | Alaskan Malamute | 30kg

The Prestige Cool-Coat is one of the cheaper cooling vests on test, but it’s still a fair investment, especially for larger dogs. The material felt a bit odd – stiffer than we expected. As with the other coats tested it just feels a bit counter-intuitive putting an extra layer on to cool your dog down.

Once it was soaked and wrung out, the cost felt a little less stiff and moulded to Ava’s shape better. She didn’t seem to object to wearing it in the slightest and the rose-pink is very fetching on her! There’s a hole in the back to attach your collar or harness if you need it.

The really impressive thing about the coat was how cold it felt after a good run-around – it was noticeably colder than Ava so must have been a great relief in the heat. And yet her fur was dry after taking it off.

Verdict: Does the job without breaking the bank – a bargain

The price was really keen and it kept Ava noticeably cooler on a hot day. The Velcro’s easy to use but we would have preferred something longer lasting as it’s already full of hair!

Easidri Cooling Coat

The EasiDri Cooling Coat is one of the highest rated cooling vests on Amazon at the time of testing and comes in a really wide range of sizes.

Easidri cool coat

  • RRP: £32.99-£82.99

  • Sizes available: XS | XSW |S | M | MW | L | XL | XXL

  • Size tested: XS

  • Doggy tester: Monty, Pugsly and Archie | Chihuahua cross | 4kg

We chose the EasiDri Cooling coat for our Chihuahua tester because it has a huge range of sizes, including a couple of ‘wide fit’ options for those barrel-shaped dogs.

Unfortunately, even the tiniest size gaped a little at the front and was a bit long. An XXS size is needed to include toy breeds. The design also seemed to just be a scaled down version of a ‘big dog’ coat – at this price point it’d be nice to have something that’s specifically designed for the more diminutive proportions of toy breeds, especially around the throat area.

Like the Prestige cool coat, it felt stiff and starchy when dry, but had a not-unpleasant moleskin feel once dampened. It’s another velcro coat which could potentially clog with hair on furrier breeds.

Monty had no objection to the feel of the coat and didn’t seem to find it wet or unpleasant against his ultra-short fur. He also felt dry and cool after wearing it, so the moisture was held well in the coat. That includes the outside surface too – it didn’t leave water patches on furniture when he wandered inside for a sit down.

Verdict: Great performance, but more design detail would be nice.

We couldn’t fault the cooling performance of the Easidri. But it’s an expensive coat and we would have like to have seen a design that’s better tailored for smaller dogs and maybe a choice of colours to make it feel a little more premium.

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Frequently asked questions about dog cooling mats and beds

Still on the fence over whether to buy? Here’s everything else you need to know.

Should I choose a cooling mat or cooling vest?

It really depends on where you need to keep your dog cool!

Cool mats, pads and beds are great to have about the house so your dog can lie on them anytime they’re feeling the heat.

Cooling vests, coats and jackets are more for outdoors and on walks. You usually have to soak them before use so you wouldn’t really want your dog mooching round the house in it, getting everything damp.

You can even get cool dog collars and dog cooling bandanas for a lighter option, although we wouldn’t expect them to work as well as a full-coverage jacket.

How does a dog cool mat work?

Cool mats are very easy to use. You just put them down and let your dog lie on them – the suface should be refreshingly cold to them.

They’re filled with a gel that becomes cooler when it’s moved around and comes under pressure from the dog’s body, so you don’t need to do anything to prepare them for use.

How do cooling vests work?

Cooling vests take a bit more work then cool beds and pads. Most will need soaking and wringing out before you put them on your dog.

They work by convection. As your dog gets warm, their body heat is transferred to the water in the coat and that energy is used to evaporate the water. This evaporation really helps your dog cool off.

The best and most technologically advanced designs will hold the water in the coat and won’t make your dog’s skin and fur uncomfortably wet.

Are dog cooling mats toxic?

The gel in the cooling mats we tested was either polyurethane or a water-based gel, neither of which are toxic.

No cooling mats in the UK should contain toxic gel or materials but you should still remove the mat immediately if it gets chewed. You don’t want your pup to ingest the outer cover material and the gel could make a sticky mess of your house.

Can you put a pet cooling mat in the freezer?

Gel mats for dogs shouldn’t need any cooling or freezing. They work by the gel inside moving around and feeling cooler under pressure.