Sometimes you’ve just got to beat the summer heat any way you can, and a dog cooling vest might be exactly what you’re looking for. These nifty little accessories for our canine companions work through evaporation, allowing a dog to stay cool throughout the whole day if you pick the right one. Of course, picking one out is the hard part, and that’s why we’re here to help.
What to Look for in a Dog Cooling Vest
Picking out the right vest is an essential part of keeping your dog from getting heatstroke or suffering from heat exhaustion. While most people use them for active applications, during walks or trail runs, they’re a great accompaniment for many dogs with dark coats who are just having to sit outside.
Most of these vests work based on evaporation. If you’ve ever been hiking and stopped to soak a bandanna or scarf to keep your neck cool then you already know how well this works.
Instead of just drying out in the sun immediately, however, many of these vests incorporate a bit of extra material. These extra layers can both aid in evaporation and help with the retention of water.
Just as well, you’ll also find that many of them have a water repellent interior layer so that your dog doesn’t end up just being a soggy mess when you take the vest off at the end of your day together.
There are a few key things to consider when you’re looking at these vests.
Look for the following before deciding on the final pick:
Depending on the application you’re going with, a tougher outer layer might be essential. The inner layers are most often made of cotton, which can hold an amazing amount of water, but there are also some specialty materials available. The inner layer is just as important since they need to be water repellent and comfortable for the dog to wear in order to maximize the utility of the dog cooling jacket for your pet.
Coverage is the hardest thing to figure out when you don’t already have the jacket or vest in hand. Your goal is to cover the dog’s entire torso smoothly, protecting their internal organs from excessive heat. Look for elastic waistbands and try to get a length before you decide on a final jacket.
Some dogs with an impressive chest to waist ratio, such as bulldogs, may be better off with a cooling collar but the average dog should be able to find sufficient coverage with a wide variety of different vests.
The fit is important. Too tight and your animal will be uncomfortable, too loose and you’ll lose the cooling effects of the jacket.
Most vests will give you a variety of sizes to pick from, and you’ll want to take a close look at your dog rather than just guessing. Most of them are made for certain chest sizes, so grab a tailor’s tape and get measuring.
Try to avoid too much guesswork, fitting really is one of the most important parts of these. Especially if you’re planning on using them while active instead of just chilling in the backyard.
Some extras are more important than others. For most of us, a ring to attach a lead to is going to be the main concern but there’s a couple of other things to look for depending on the application.
Tougher outer layers are made for trail running, to prevent stickers and goat’s heads from getting stuck to the jacket in excessive amounts.
Reflective stripes are awesome for walks and runs in urban areas and can help keep your dog safe when there’s traffic around.
Some vests are even made to be used specifically with some other products, so take a look and see what you can find before you make a final decision.
Of course, if you want our opinion on it then we’ve already found what we think will be the perfect fit for most canines out there.
Ruffwear – Swamp Cooler
This is a three-layer dog cooling jacket which attaches with an easy-to-use pair of side buckles. This allows you to get your furry friend ready to go in just minutes once you’ve soaked the vest.
The cool part here is the three-layer construction. The outer layer allows for quick wicking of the contained water and evaporation, while the middle layer holds on to the water and keeps it stored. Finally, the inner layer transfers things to the dog’s chest.
Our opinion:The vest comes in a variety of sizes as well, allowing for the all-important fit to be made well. When sized appropriately it’s almost guaranteed to cover a dog’s entire torso area and allow for them to be quite cool and comfortable while you’re on the go. Add in some reflective trim to help keep your dog safe while the two of you are being active and you’ve got a definite winner.
Individual Reviews of Our Other Picks
Since they’re such a versatile device, you can expect to find a huge amount of variation in these vests. We’d like to humbly present those which we find to be the best, in order to help you and your pet come to the right conclusion.
Frontpet Cooling Dog Vest With Adjustable Side Straps And Highly Visible Reflective Padding – Best for Urban Running
For the urban athlete and their equally sleek canine, this is one of the best fits around. It’s highly visible and reflective while maintaining a sleek profile which will allow your dog to move freely.
The coverage here isn’t the best, but you really shouldn’t be out pounding the pavement with your pup if the asphalt or concrete is too hot for their paws anyways.
The reflective stripe is broad and along the back, meaning your canine will be highly visible while wearing this cooling jacket.
The biggest problem with this vest, however, is that it has only one size. The chest ring only extends from 18” to 23”.
If this vest fits, however, you have a great way to make sure that both you and your dog can stay active in an urban environment all the way through the hot months.
Ruffwear Jet Stream – Best for Athletic Training
This is the “little brother” of our top pick, and it comes with every bit of the same recommendation. While it doesn’t offer the same superior coverage of the Swamp Cooler, it will allow your dog to move with one hundred percent freedom while still keeping them cool.
This is less of a protective item than some of the other vests, and more of a convenient way to make sure that your dog can complete their training in the summer months while remaining comfortable.
It offers pretty good water retention, but for those who train their dogs for agility courses and other endeavors which require them to be able to move with complete freedom, it’s a godsend.
If you’ve got a warm climate, an athletic dog, and dreams of winning competitions by training when it’s too warm for others, then you could do worse than the Ruffwear Jet Stream.
Dog Cooling Vest by EXPAWLORER – Best for Backyard Lounging
While it’s got a bit of a looser fit than some of the others on our list, EXPAWLORER has a good thing going with this vest when it comes to sitting around in the backyard. The coverage is also a bit lacking, but paired with a mat then you’re in really good hands.
It can be used for athletic endeavors, but we really feel there are better-suited cooling jackets for that kind of thing while remaining within the same price range.
The cool thing is that with this product comes an insanely precise sizing range as well. You’ll be able to tell well in advance if you’re able to use it.
For backyard lounging in the shade, during those hot months, the looser fit of this jacket is forgivable due to superior water retention and a low price.
PupPal Pet Cooling Vest – Best Value for Your Money
The PupPal Pet cooling vest may not be the best at anything in particular, but it shines in being able to offer you the most value for your dollar. This simple cooling jacket velcros in the back, making it easy to stick on even stubborn mutts.
They also have precise guidelines on sizing, which means that you won’t have to make any errors and returns during the whole process.
The pink color may turn some people off of this jacket of course since it’s not exactly the manliest or the most efficient for keeping the sun off. Other than that you’re in good hands.
If you can get past the pink coloration, the PupPal Pet Cooling Vest offers a huge amount of value for your dollar, but it really can’t compete with some of our more expensive picks.
BINGPET Dog Cooling Hunting Vest – Best for Hunting Dogs
Most of us don’t use dogs for deer, and a lot of hunting happens in hot weather. If you’re the type who likes to keep your dog’s carnivorous instincts alive, then this might just be the right vest.
It comes in blaze orange, so you can maintain the high visibility you need on your working dogs, while still having the evaporative qualities of the rest of our picks.
It’s simple, comes in four sizes, and holds water very well. You’ll just need to pack an extra bottle of water along to use on it if you’re not going to be somewhere with streams.
The thing is: it doesn’t have enough coverage to be of use for most of us when comparable options are available at roughly the same price.
For hunting dogs, BINGPET’s evaporative harness is pretty much a perfect companion but the rest of us may want to look elsewhere.
Some Tips for Using Your Cooling Vest
How you use the vest is important, since this is for your dog’s protection. Your furry friend shouldn’t rely only on a vest if they’re just a puppy who happened to land in the wrong climate. When that happens you may want to pair things with a cooling pad and hold off on the runs and walks until a cooler season rolls around.
Keep the following in mind and both of you will be happier:
- If you want to check how well your vest is working, you can either feel under the vest or check your dog’s ears. The ears will usually give you a better idea of how Fido is doing overall.
- Check the vest’s moisture level frequently. Some vests will dry out quicker than others, and if the vest is totally dry it’s just going to warm your pup up instead of cooling him down. This is particularly important on trail runs where water may not be available.
- Not all dogs will take well to these vests. In this case, if you insist on being active during the day a cooling collar may be your best bet. For lounging a cooling mat is a good idea either way.
- If it’s particularly hot, then refrigerating the cooling jacket after wetting it is a good option. This will both keep things cooler and last for longer than if you just wet it down all by itself.
- Do not use one of these cooling vests as a lifesaving device, particularly if refrigerated. If you put a refrigerated vest on a dog which is already in a hyperthermic state(suffering heat exhaustion or heat stroke) it can cause thermal shock. Seek out immediate veterinary assistance instead.
If you’re using one to keep a dog cool who’s just been given the run of the yard, then make sure you provide plenty of water as well. A cooling mat in the shade is also a good idea for those who are particularly prone to heat stroke, such as bulldogs and other short-nosed, big chested breeds.
With a dog cooling jacket, you can rest assured that you and your pup can make the most of the summer. Whether it’s more comfortable laying around or just making sure that your working or athletic dogs can get their training done despite the heat, there’s simply no reason for you not to make sure your dog is fitted for one if you’re living somewhere the thermometer is regularly on the rise.