Monday, August 01, 2011

Product Review: Cool Pet Bed from The Green Pet Shop

It seems like every summer there's a new "keep your dog cool" product. I've tried a lot of them and have found all of them pretty useless. Zentek crate mats don't do anything to cool a dog, I totally fell for the hype on those, bought two of them and my dogs HATED them.

A couple of years ago I bought a couple of canine coolers. They worked for a while, were a pain to re-charge (get cold again), were SUPER heavy to carry around and travel with and within a year (even with my short nailed dremeled dogs) burst at the seams (about the same time too) and leaked all over my car - in the hot humid weather - think mildew gross damp smell for weeks.

So why can't someone invent a product that really stays cool for our dogs in the summer? This year I ran across the 'Cool Pet Bed' from The Green Pet Shop. Once again I was skeptical - does it really work? Here are the claims:
The COOL PET PAD is a revolutionary new self-cooling pet cushion that cools without refrigeration, water or electricity. No maintenance, no mess. Automatically re-charges itself. YOU DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! 
 The COOL PET PAD is weight or pressure activated. As soon as your 4 legged friend lies down the cooling effect starts. It will last up to 3-4 hours of constant use and will last for years. It will re-charge itself automatically after a brief period of non-use. How cool is that? (Get one for yourself!)
That's a lot of promises and I'm still feeling like a sucker for buying those Zentek mats (2 @ $49/each) back in I was skeptical. Then I kept hearing about these 'new' cool pet beds that are magically cold when pressure is applied.

After our weekend at the Yankee Golden Retriever Club's trial at the SportsZone Soccer Facility in Derry (indoors, NO AC and 90 degrees outside) I was pretty desperate for something that will help me keep my dogs cool. Frozen bottles help (a lot), but it was really hard to keep huge jugs of water frozen for day two of the trial (and yeah, I pretty much dragged around 8 huge jugs of water in my giant cooler).

So in some degree of desperation, I bought one of the 'Cool Pet Beds' made by The Green Pet Shop. The day I bought it the ambient temperature was 92 degrees with moderate humidity, I had just gone home to feed/potty the boys and was on my way back to the office. I took the bed out of the box and tossed it on my car seat for the 5 miles back to work...The large version is 35" x 23.6 - a bit wider than my 42"x21" side by side crates. The large size retails for $49.

I sat down and drove away. My initial thought was - this isn't working - a Zentek moment. I actually felt hotter as I stuck to the mat fabric and then - WOW, it got cool. Not cold mind you, cool. It's hard to describe, but imagine the sensation of sitting on a cold rock on a crisp October morning - or stepping onto ceramic tile that is 10-15 degrees cooler than air temperature. It was pleasant - and surprising.

I brought it home and presented it to my dogs - expecting them to embrace it immediately. This is new guys, doncha love it? They didn't. They ignored it, them grudgingly laid on it when I made them do so and they didn't stay on it very long. So when I went to train on Tuesday (a week ago) night I put the mat in Teller's crate before I loaded him and off we went. Temperatures were now in the low 80's, humidity was low. I ran the AC on drive over and fully opened the all the doors and windows when we arrived at the agility field. Usually Teller will pant a little while I setup a sequence or course and he'll be hot when we're finished working. I came back to the van to find him not panting (yay), worked him a little (panting), gave him some water, walked him out a little, then put him away while I helped someone else train. When I checked in on Teller a few minutes later he was relaxing again, lightly panting (open mouthed breathing) - he was dramatically cooler than I'd have expected, thus more relaxed.

This was enough of a sign for me to buy two more Cool Pet Beds from Clean Run - one for each boy, those arrived on Wednesday. This weekend's trial was local, but also in an un-air conditioned space. Temperatures were in the mid-80s, varying levels of humidity. It was relatively hot inside. The boys spent the weekend on the cool beds, they seemed reasonably comfortable on them. It certainly wasn't WOW cool, but they seemed comfortable.
Woo in a Box

My observations are thus:
1) The cool beds do seem to be cool - not cold mind you - cool. The good news is that cool pet beds don't need to be kept cold. When I put the boys in the van on Thursday afternoon, the inside temperature was well over 90 degrees. The cool beds responded to weight and cooled right off. Nice to know!

2) They're advertised to stay cool 3-4 hours. I believe that the actual time that they remain effective is closer to 60-90 minutes IF the dogs move around to find a new cool spot. In one place I think the effect is closer to 45 minutes. I think this is comparable to the water filled canine cooler bladder beds - if they start cold they'll stay cold for an hour or so until the ambient air temp raises the temperature of the water in the bladder.

3) Recharge time (removing the pressure/weight off the surface) is relatively long - not the 'brief' period of time advertised. I ended up taking Kipling's away and swapping out Teller's every hour or so, putting the used one in a cooler.

4) I highly doubt that this product will last for 'years' - as the construction is not actually durable. My dogs do no dig on mats, they have rounded dremeled short nails and the cool pet beds have not seen a lot of use. In between uses I've wiped them down with a wash cloth and folded them back into their original boxes. In a couple of days and one full weekend of use two of the three beds already have tears in the fabric exposing the gel inside. This is really disappointing considering I have approximately $160 invested in the three Cool Pet Beds.

5) These beds - lighter than the canine coolers for sure - are heavy. I lugged all three of them in and out of the trial site in a reusable grocery bag three times (deciding it was best NOT to leave these beds at the trial site).

6) The sizes are weird. I thought I might be able to get away with a smaller version - I never bought the LARGE canine cooler because of the heft, yet my dogs were able to make use of the medium ones by laying on their bellies or sides and leveraging the 'cooler' parts. I looked at the medium sized Cool Pet Bed and found 15.7" x 19.7" too small to be even remotely useful.

7) I like that the product is labeled non-toxic, I'd like to know what exactly was in the gel though...

In summary, I like the product, but I DO wish it was more durable. I DO wish the cooling effect lasted longer too...Is it worth the price? I think so - if I had one dog or smaller dogs it'd be a no-brainer, I'd buy two or three of them so my dog had a fresh one every hour or so at a trial. But alas, my dogs require the $50 or $80 size Cool Pet Bed - so they've got one each and I'll have to manage recharging.I also hope they don't completely fall apart now that they have tears - I didn't expect gently used products to become damaged this quickly.

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