Nothing beats the fun of summer! After spending all winter cooped up in the house, your dog can finally live it up and soak up the sun. But of course, dogs are not immune to excessive heat!
While warmer weather provides plenty of play opportunities, it can be dangerous for dogs that aren't prepared. Heatstroke and exhaustion are genuine threats that can have debilitating effects on your canine companion's health. If not addressed, those conditions can lead to brain damage, coma, or even death.
There's a lot you can do to keep your pup cool. In addition to adjusting outdoor hours, you can invest in a cooling vest or jacket.
These simple canine garments do a lot to reduce your dog's body temperature. Even during the hottest summer days, it'll keep your pooch comfortable and prevent any serious health issues.
Whether it's for a short walk or extended outdoor play, cooling vests and jackets can be a real lifesaver!
If you're not familiar with these unique accessories, we have you covered. Check out our top picks below. Also, don't forget to read our buying guide to get some insight into what cooling vests have to offer and some tips on choosing the right one.
4 of the Best Dog Cooling Vests & Jackets to Keep Your Pooch Cool This Summer
1. Canada Pooch Cooling Dog Vest
This eye-catching vest from Canada Pooch meets the mark. It's available in two brightly colored patterns. Not only that, but you can get it in an impressively wide range of sizes.
Canada Pooch has a detailed sizing chart that uses only two measurements, so finding the right fit is a cinch. Plus, adjustable straps make it easy to find-tune the snugness later.
The vest utilizes water-retaining fabric and a layer of mesh. Once soaked, the fabric layer will stay damp. Meanwhile, the mesh allows for optimal airflow, enhancing the evaporative process and keeping your pup cool.
The vest is pretty comfortable and doesn't have any areas that lead to chaffing. On the top, you'll find a slot for attaching a harness or collar.
2. SGODA Dog Cooling Vest Harness Cooler Jacket
Chic and well-designed, the SGODA cooling vest is worth your consideration. Unlike most vests, this unit fits like a full-fledged garment.
It has a lot of coverage and is built like traditional clothing. That means that more of your dog's chest and shoulders have protection. Three layers of material provide optimal evaporative cooling.
After you soak the vest and wring it out, the combination of absorbent cotton and polyester mesh offers a nice balance between effective cooling and long-term comfort. Not only that, but the outer layer provides some UV protection.
The vest is sporting a double zipper, adjustable velcro, and a durable aluminum buckle. It's pretty easy to adjust and comes in many sizes.
3. Derby Originals Hydro Cooling Dog Jacket, Blue
Here's a more straightforward option for those looking to provide quick yet long-lasting relief. The vest is pretty rudimentary as far as design goes. But that doesn't detract from its effectiveness.
The thick, quilted material sits on top of your dog's back. It's long enough to fall to the sides and provide adequate coverage. Meanwhile, two straps along the chest and belly keep the vest secure.
The most impressive part of this vest? It provides up to 10 hours of cooling after you soak it!
Three layers of material hold onto as much water as possible. However, it remains thin, lightweight, and comfortable.
4. Dog Cooling Vest/Coat for Medium and Large Pet Dogs in Summer
Clad in lightweight and absorbent layers, this vest holds a decent amount of water. More importantly, it evaporates slowly to provide long-lasting functionality on those hot summer days.
The outside layer is all mesh, which is great for optimizing airflow. On top of that, you'll find a couple of reflective strips for visibility.
The vest is a breeze to put on. It uses hook and loop closures for quick and easy setup. A quick-release buckle is also used for simplicity.
The clasp is hidden inside some internal flaps to keep it safe and out of reach for your dog. Overall, the vest is well-made and fully capable of regulating body temperature without restricting movement.
What Exactly is a Cooling Vest?
A cooling vest or jacket is a specialty piece of clothing that operates on very simple principles.
I know what you're thinking: Why put a thick jacket on your dog when the sun is already beating down on them? Wouldn't that make their body temperature rise even more?
If you were to put a standard winter jacket on your dog, they would suffer from heatstroke in a matter of minutes. However, cooling jackets are designed to lower body temperature through the process of evaporative cooling.
You see, dogs don't sweat in the same way we humans do. Humans release moisture from the sweat glands. When the sweat evaporates, the energy used to change the liquid to gas results in a small temperature drop.
If you sweat profusely, the cooling effect is even more noticeable. It's the same reason why you feel a sudden chill when you step out of the pool or shower.
Dogs aren't fortunate enough to have the biological means to achieve sweat-based cooling. So instead, they rely on heavy panting. While panting does work to some degree, it's not as effective as sweating.
A cooling vest or jacket simulates the cooling effect of sweating. It's akin to dousing your dog in some water. But instead of a one-off splash, you're soaking an absorbent garment, wrapping it around your dog's body, and triggering the natural evaporation process.
The concept has been around for eons. Even today, you'll find humans wrapping a water-soaked towel around their necks while working outside. You might even see the process in action in evaporative cooling units, which are also known as "swamp coolers."
It might not seem like much, but a cooling vest can make a significant difference. They prevent the dangerous effects of heal while keeping your dog nice and cozy through any hot weather.
Does Your Dog Really Need a Cooling Vest?
Nearly every dog will benefit from using a cooling vest.
The standard body temperature for canines is around 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. It's a bit higher than that of humans. However, it doesn't take much for dogs to reach dangerous body temperature levels.
Trouble can start at only 104 degrees. Heatstroke occurs at around 106 degrees!
Believe it or not, heatstroke and exhaustion can occur from a short walk. When the sun is beating down in the middle of summer, dogs feel the effects very quickly!
A cooling vest can avoid all of those issues. Now, they're not foolproof. These garments rely on moisture and dry heat to work efficiently.
Related: Essential First Aid and Emergency Care For Dog Owners
Arid Environments VS Humid Climates
Dogs that live in arid environments have the most to gain. However, those living in more humid climates might find that evaporation is too slow to provide any noticeable benefits.
All that said, it's worth a try either way. Even minor improvements can prolong your time outside and keep your pup safe.
Finding the Right Cooling Vest and Jacket
Before you grab the first cooling vest you see, there are some things to consider. Not all cooling garments are made the same.
We're talking about your dog's health and well-being here! So, you need to take some time and choose the very best that money can buy.
Here are some factors to keep in mind while shopping.
Size and Overall Fit
Of course, your pup's cooling jacket has to fit right! These accessories only work correctly if the fabric is touching your dog's skin. Loose-fitting coats just won't cut it.
The same goes for overly tight pieces! Super-snug vests will only restrict movement and cause skin irritation.
Most manufacturers offer a bevy of sizes. Some label them in basic size categories. For example, you might see "Small" vests or "Large " jackets. Others provide numerical measurements and garments that fit specific size ranges.
The best option, however, is adjustable vests. Pieces with adjustable straps are your best course of action because you can quickly provide a snug fit no matter what.
Take a few measurements of your dog so that you have a size reference. Measure the girth of the chest, the circumference of the neck, and the distance from the withers to the base of the tail. Those numbers should make it easy to find a vest that fits just right.
The materials are what make cooling jackets so effective. You want to stick to pieces that are absorbent and moisture-wicking.
The vest should hold onto a decent amount of water to promote evaporation and pull heat away. Beyond that, it pays to have something that protects from the sun's intense rays. Water-soaked fabric isn't enough to stop burns.
Look for a garment that incorporates thick reflective material. The vest should bounce the sun's rays right off, ensuring that your dog's back doesn't burn.
Compatibility with Other Accessories
Chances are, you're not going to use a cooling vest in the house. The clothing is made for outdoor use. As a result, you'll need to make sure that it works with your dog's existing harness or collar.
It's important to note that cooling vests are not harnesses. They don't replace them either. While vests and jackets can be pretty secure, they're not made to serve a containment role. The last thing you want is for your dog to rip right through the vest and escape.
Check to make sure that the garment is compatible with a collar or leash. It may have holes to let you gain access to a harness ring underneath.
Alternatively, you might see integrated attachment rings or buckles.
Safety features are a must. The vest alone will do a lot to keep your dog safe in terms of health. But what about all of the other hazards that come with outdoor play?
Look for things like reflective strips and bright colors.
The bright colors and eye-catching patterns make the vest more visible during the daytime. Meanwhile, the reflective strips will bounce light to make drivers aware of your dog's presence.
Both features are good to have if you walk on sidewalks or next to city streets.
Duration of Functionality
Here's something that many dog owners fail to take into account. Cooling vests take time to dry out thoroughly. That's a good thing because the evaporative cooling process keeps your dog comfortable the entire time.
So, what if you get a thin vest that dries out in five minutes? Those cheaper garments aren't exactly conducive to summer play. Unless you're only going out for short potty breaks, they're practically useless.
Look for thicker vests that last for at least 30 minutes. That way, your pup has ample time to play without having to worry about the heat.
Comfort and Dryness
Finally, pay close attention to how absorbent the vest is and how it affects the fur.
There's a fine line between being too wet and being wet enough. You want the vest to stay damp as it evaporates for prolonged cooling. But if the vest remains soaking wet as your dog plays, you could be looking at trouble!
Wet fur, excessive sweating, and a tight-fitting vest are a recipe for disaster. Sitting water can lead to painful sores and uncomfortable chaffing.
Your pup may end up with hot spots, which is another issue you don't want to deal with.
A good vest will keep your dog's fur relatively dry. A bit of dampness is fine, but it should never lead to moisture saturation.
Don't let your furry friend get too carried away with the summer fun. If you've never considered using a cooling vest and jacket before, now is the time!
These garments can make a huge difference and provide that extra line of defense against the scorching heat. Your dog will thank you for it!