DIY Dog Cooling Mat

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Originally published June 7, 2016 and updated on July 16, 2020 and May 23, 2022. Originally sponsored by Purina Pro Plan with Collective Bias, Inc.

Any dog, but especially your senior dog, will appreciate a DIY dog cooling mat on a hot summer day. This is an easy beginner’s project that can be sewn by hand or by machine.

brown and tan dog looking at camera and laying on green cooling mat.

As my “babies” are growing up and leaving home for college one by one, I find that my dog, Lila, is becoming the recipient of my mom attention. Lila is a fun-loving dog, always the life of the party. I know she loves us and we love her, but she is not a cuddly dog. I have to find other ways to demonstrate my affection for her.

Find the simple, step-by-step tutorial for a DIY cooling mat for dogs about halfway down the article.

Frequently Asked Questions about Keeping Your Dog Cool

Depending on your dog’s fur, warm weather may cause discomfort, not just high temperatures. Also, the health of your pet and its age can impact the temperature when a cooling dog bed is beneficial.

How can I make my dog cooler?

Wipe your dog down with a wet towel. This provides a cooling effect as the water evaporates from your dog’s skin and fur. You can repeat this process often to help cool down your pet. Don’t forget to use damp towels on your dog’s chest and stomach where the hair is shorter and the the bottoms of paws.

Use a cooling cloth or colling blanket. These are designed to cool as water evaporates. You place the cooling cloth on your dog while she is laying down or standing still. Be sure to supervise your dog with the product.

lime green cooling pad next to clear plastic tube holding pad.
four different colored rolled up cooling towels in front of carrying pouches.
folded beige cooling mat on blue background with snowflakes.

Provide supervised access to a fan. You can place a fan where your pet lays or use a handheld fan.

Provide a cooling pad. You can follow the very easy DIY tutorial below or purchase one. There are even options with layers of foam to provide cooling relief and cushioning for old bones and to reduce joint pain.

large dog panting on blue mat.
tan dog and small brown cat sitting on a blue cooling mat.
reddish dog laying on grey cushion in front of box reading FurHaven.

How can I keep my dog cool in the summer without AC (air conditioning)?

Keep your dog in the shade, out of direct sunlight, and where there is a breeze blowing during the hottest hours of the day. This means you should also avoid walks or exercise during the hottest hours.

Continually provide plenty of fresh water. You can cool the water down by mixing in cold water or adding ice cubes.

Keep your dog’s fur as short as possible for the breed. Brush double coated dogs to removed excess hair.

Make safe, frozen dog treats.

Give your dog toys that can be frozen.

blue rubber rectangular dog toy in box reading Chill Fill.
yellow boned-shaped dog toy in packaging reading Chill and Chew.
blue ring-shaped dog toy pictured in front of German Shepherd.

Allow your dog access to cooler surfaces like a shaded, cool tile floor, hardwood floor or cement floor in the basement.

Create a makeshift air conditioner by placing a bowl of cold water with ice cubes in front of the fan. Pet owners should always supervise your pet near a fan.

Set up the sprinkler or a kiddie wading pool for your dog. Be sure to supervise dogs and children when necessary.

Use a cooling dog collar or cooling vest.

brown dog wearing tie-dyed cooling vest.
small tan dog wearing blue cooling bib in front of blue background with snowflakes.
large black dog wearing orange cooling collar.

Provide a raised dog cot so that there is cool air circulation. These cooling beds come in sizes for small dogs and big dogs. You can also place cold packs under the bed for more cooling, but be sure to supervise your dog so she doesn’t try to eat the packs.

brown dog laying on green raised cot.
tan dog laying on  black and grey raised cot.
Golden Retriever laying on black raised cot.

Do dog cooling mats really work?

Yes, they are a great way to help your dog cool off in hot weather. Panting is not the most effective way to cool off on a hot day, so helping your dog reduce their body heat can prevent heat stroke and make your dog feel more comfortable.

The best cooling mat is one that is large enough for your dog to spread out on when she lays down and can easily be washed or cleaned.

What’s inside a dog cooling mat?

Most purchased cooling pads contain gel. They can also contain water, but most often have additives to keep the frozen or cold water soft and malleable. Common additives are alginic acid, carboxmethyl cellulose and polyacrylamide. Although many claim to contain non-toxic gel, it is always a good idea to supervise your pet when using gel filled cool surface products.

When you make your own cooling mat you can choose what to put inside the bed and opt for non-toxic choices.

brown and tan dog with American flag bandanna on black leash.

I want Lila to enjoy every day and her senior years as much as she wants to enjoy them. I decided to make her a DIY dog cooling mat so that she can savor her summer walks.  The dog cooling pad is easy to make and she really enjoys relaxing on it. 

She’s now 16 years old, although she thinks she’s a much younger dog. Until about a year ago, she still loved her long, long walks as much as ever. After she turned 10, I began to noticed that it took her a bit longer to bounce back after a walk, especially a walk in warm weather.

I cannot believe that she is well over 16 years old! Even at the age of 14, she acted like a three year old dog. Even the vet has commented on it.

She’s the one that always wants the long walk (she’s dragging me along, not me dragging her) and she enjoys every second of our walks. I enjoy spending time with her and really get a kick out of how much she relives her puppy days through her walks.

brown and tan dog wearing American flag bandana laying down and smiling.

Now that Lila is getting older, it takes her a longer time to recover from her walks. A walk on a hot day really wipes her out.

She searches for the coolest spot in the house, which is the hard tile floor. Now that she’s older, I feel badly that she has to lay on the hard tile floor to help her cool down after a walk.  She certainly deserves her own cooling mat for dogs to pamper her a bit. 

I decided to make a DIY dog cooling mat for Lila to lay on after a fun, but hot walk. The cooling dog mat helps her recover from the heat of a summer walk and is much softer than the hard tile floor. 

tan and brown dog looking at camera and laying in brown dog bed.

When Lila’s not hot from a walk, her favorite place to lay is on her Brentwood Home delux Runyon dog bed. It’s unbelievably soft on her old bones and I love that the cover is washable and blends with my home decor. Lila and I are tough graders and we give her comfy dog bed an A+++.

DIY Dog Cooling Mat

Cooling Dog Mat Supplies

  • Old towel – choose a heavier, washable fabric
    • You can find towels at thrift stores.
    • You can also use a yard of fleece or other thick fabric.
    • You can repurpose an old sweatshirt for a smaller dog
  • Sewing machine
  • Filling – choose the filling carefully, considering your dog’s comfort and proclivity for chewing or eating items.
    • Small bags of ice cubes
    • Small bags for frozen peas
    • Frozen gel packs
    • Frozen washcloths or towels
    • A frozen or refrigerated sleeping bag for a large dog

DIY Pet Cooling Mat Tutorial

1 – You can use an old or thrifted towel. 

2 – I chose to use two bath mats to give my senior dog a bit more padding under her old bones.

3 – Line up the edges of the towel or bath mats and stitch them together by hand using a whip stitch or with a sewing machine straight stitch.

collage of 4 images of steps to make diy dog cooling mat.

4 – Leave an opening on one side so that you can insert the cold packs. The size of the opening will depend on the size of the cooling inserts you choose.

green mat with baggies of frozen peas and purple dog toy.

I have found it best to use zipper bags of frozen peas. The frozen peas do a great job of providing a cooling effect and are flexible enough to be comfortable for Lila to lay on.

Although, Lila has never once tried to eat the bags of peas, please always supervise your dog while using this DIY dog cooling mat to ensure their safety.

brown and tan dog with bandanna on green mat.

Lila is comfortable and much cooler on her DIY dog cooling mat. It cushions her old bones and she definitely deserves a bit of pampering in her old age. 

brown and tan dog sleeping on green mat.

After a nice long walk, a big bowl of dog food and a nap on her DIY dog cooling mat, Lila is definitely savoring the good life. Be sure to do all you can to help your dog savor every one of her days with a DIY dog cooling bed

More Ideas to Care for Your Dog:

You can find all our best ideas for your dog in the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.

brown and tan dog looking excited sitting on car seat with bag of dog food.

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  1. I love how appropriate this is to us ‘craft challenged,’ I really think I could make this cooling mat. It looks so comfy too! #Client

  2. Our Bella is slowing down too, she loves her walks but is crashed out for the rest of the day. We go early but It’s still hot. She is a rescue so I have no idea how old she really is but, like Lila, she has no idea she is getting up there. I’ll have to make one for her. Peas are great because she’s not a pea eater, but if I used carrots then watch out – I would have a huge mess!!!

  3. Lila certainly looks happy on her cooling mat. I really should make one for my puppy. I think she would like it. Of course, she may have to fight the cats for it!

  4. Love the pics of Lila! She is such a cute girl! I love the idea of a cooling mat for my dogs, I have 3 rescue pups! I’m going to have to give this a try!

  5. She’s adorable! We had a dog like her but never figured out what bread he was. What bread this she?

    1. I was fortunate enough to win a DNA test for Lila. She’s mostly mixed breed, but of the identifiable breeds, she’s Chihuahua, Rottweiler, Siberian Husky. She is 100% Lila! 🙂

      1. Thank you for your ingenious diy. My young long haired Chihuahua loves outings too.
        Unfortunately we live in a neighborhood outnumbered by big dogs. I can’t take too many risks so I invented a petcage on wheels using an old shopping cart but struggling with the overheating during summer that is until I saw your clip. We do not have a vehicle I am forever worried about either his safety or overheating.

        Your fur baby is worth spoiling and pampering.

  6. A very nice article . I loved it because it shows how much you really love your dog it was nice to hear something good for a change say hello to your dog for me I have a Belgian melon law name blue who is like my daughter since my daughter is moved away she is here with me and we take our long long walks but I’m the one it’s wearing out not she have a nice day and thank you for a nice write up

  7. It is so nice to see someone loving a cross breed, my girl is a cross breed and a rescue. Lila looks like a beautiful little soul, she obviously has a very good life. Thank you for loving a dog……
    by the way, I really like the cool mat idea,

    1. So nice to meet a fellow rescue dog mom, Anne. We’re very blessed by being rescued ourselves by our rescue adopted dogs, aren’t we?

  8. How many times can you refreeze and reuse the peas for the cooling mat?
    Do you need new ones each time?

    1. Since no one will be eating the peas, they can be used for several months. You may have to break up chunks of frozen peas after a few refreezings, but it’s easy to do by hand.

  9. exorbitant! The Products You mentioned above are helpful for those who want to purchase a cooling mat for their beloved pet, but do not know how the cooling mat works. But this article is very helpful for this person. Like Study Pets, which reviews and suggests the best products for pets like cooling mats, beds & much more. For more information, visit our online portal to learn more about cooling mats.

  10. What would you suggest for a filler for a large cooling mat for a Siberian Husky? That would be a lot of frozen peas.

    1. It sure would be a lot! lol You could still use frozen peas because you can just keep refreezing them (and absolutely won’t be eating them) and reusing them. It would be a one-time investment. But you could use ice cubes or gel packs. You can also freeze towels and use them. Please let me know if you find something that works well for you.

  11. I have just bought some water absorbing beads for floristry to make a neck cooler. These might be good for a cooling dog bed as well. I’m in NZ and the beads were $2 per pack, each pack swells up to .5 of a litre of beads, so potentially cheaper than using frozen peas. The water gradually releases from the beads and they shrink back to their original size.

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