Oh so cool! Best dog cooling jackets to help prevent your pooch overheating

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  • Summer is here and much as we humans might enjoy it, many dogs suffer in the heat. A cooling mat is one solution for a dog at rest, but for what if he’s on the move on a hot day? A great way to keep your pooch comfortable is for him to don one of the best dog cooling jackets.

    As a dog owner during warm spells, make the most of the light early mornings and late evenings, and if you have access to acres of shady forest, use them. However, while we might strip off to the bare minimum on a hot day to allow as much airflow over our skin as possible, the extra layer of a cooling jacket might be just the ticket for a hot dog.

    Most of these vest-like jackets keep the dog cool by evaporation. This means that the jacket’s cooling properties stay active until the wet material evaporates. The evaporation method is essentially the same as what sweating does for us (dogs being unable to sweat). You soak the vest in water, wring it out and put it on the dog. As the water evaporates, the air surrounding your dog’s body is cooled, thereby cooling the dog. Depending on the technical nature of the vest, it may have conductive layers to accelerate the removal of heat.

    Is it too hot to walk my dog?

    Knowing how to keep dogs cool is really important. They pant, seek out shady spots, and their usual activity under the hot sun can seem like a chore not a joy. As well as being unable to sweat, most dogs carry a thick, hair coat with them. Imagine going for jog wearing a coat designed for the depths of winter in the middle of summer? That definitely doesn’t sound appealing.

    Dogs on hot walks are at risk of heatstroke, which is a high temperature caused by dehydration and overheating. This condition can be fatal. Generally, experts say dogs are comfortable walking at 20°C or less, and most will be happy to walk in 21-25°C. However, this will hugely depend on his age, breed, level of fitness, the intensity of the exercise and any underlying health conditions he may have.

    As much as we feel that daily doggy exercise is a non-negotiable, in a heatwave the opposite may be true. As qualified dog trainer, rehabilitator and behaviourist Helen Masters advises: “An important thing to remember in extreme heat is that no dog ever died from missing a walk!”

    6 of the best cooling dog jackets

    Kurgo dog cooling jacket

    Kurgo Core Cooling Vest

    Sizes: S–XL
    Colour: Icy blue/storm blue

    Reasons to buy: Great for use on walks
    Reasons to avoid: Cooling time is effective but short

    This lightweight vest has a dual action – its silvery reflective colour reflects the sun to keep the heat away, and after being soaked, it evaporates water to cool the dog’s chest area and neck.

    Good for walks as it features a two-way zipper to access the harness or collar. It probably keeps evaporating for an hour’s activity before it needs rewetting but is very effective during this time.  It has an inner core that stores the water, while the inner mesh lining transfers the cooling effect to the dog’s body.

    This vest typically comes up on the small side, so check the sizing chart and err on the larger size if towards the top of a bracket.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk, viovet.co.uk or gsequestrian.co.uk
    In the US? View now at amazon.com 

    Terrier wearing WeatherBeeta cooling coat

    WeatherBeeta Therapy-Tec Cooling Coat

    Sizes: 12 sizes from 25–80cm
    Colour: Blue

    Reasons to buy: Dual-fabric for improved cooling
    Reasons to avoid: Not the most attractive design and one colour

    This has a special super-absorbent PVA lining that is activated by cold water. The outer is mesh, which allows air to flow through the cooling material. The Therapy-Tec includes ceramic fabric technology designed to increase circulation, improve muscle function and enhance recovery. It’s a high-spec product that does the job of keeping dogs cool, for a competitive price.

    There are 12 sizes of available, so you should be able to find the perfect fit for your dog according to WeatherBeeta’s sizing chart.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk, viovet.co.uk or gsequestrian.co.uk

    Animate dog cooling coat

    Animate Cooling Dog Coat

    Sizes: 8–32in
    Colour: Navy

    Reasons to buy: Long cooling time
    Reasons to avoid: Drips at first

    This coat should help your dog retain a normal body temperature, enabling him to stay at 6–12ºC cooler during high temperatures, thereby preventing illnesses such as heatstroke. It’s great to use after exercise to cool the dog down while he is panting and trying to reduce his own body temperature.

    It features a water-activated design and is made with super-absorbent cooling materials. It comes in six sizes, and is also fully adjustable around the stomach and chest for a comfortable fit.

    Like most of these coats, it can drip a little when you first put it on, but it stays wet and cool for hours so does the trick.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk or viovet.co.uk
    In the US? View now at amazon.com

    Ruffwear dog cooling jacket

    Ruffwear Swamp Cooler Harness

    Sizes: XXS–L/XL
    Colours: Sage green, heliotrope purple or graphite grey

    Reasons to buy: High cooling power and very adjustable
    Reasons to avoid: Less coverage than a full coat

    This has a three-layer construction which has a dual action of protecting against heat and reflecting the sun. The wicking Spandex layer reflects heat and aids evaporation, the absorbent middle layer stores water to keep the dog cool, while a mesh lining helps to keep the dog dry.

    We love the built-in padded handle, lead attachment and load-dispersing chest/belly panel. It’s robust and suitable for active dogs, as it allows a full range of motion and is easy to take on and off with the adjustable side-release buckles.

    It is quite pricey, but it’s high-spec with the three-layer construction for maximum cooling power. Ruffwear also make a cooling vest.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk
    In the US? View now at amazon.com

    Easidri cooling coat for dogs

    Easidri Cooling Coat

    Sizes: XS–XL
    Colour: Blue

    Reason to buy: Great coverage
    Reason to avoid: Limited colour options

    This popular coat has a unique cell structure which slowly releases its moisture without wetting your pet’s fur. It’s super absorbent, so can take in a lot of water to evaporate, while at the same time, it is durable and tear- and scratch-resistant, so ideal for those dogs who enjoy a bit of rough and tumble.

    It is easy to adjust with chest and stomach straps, and the seven sizes (including wide fittings) mean there’s a fit for every dog. Some cooling coats are quite skimpy, but this one covers most of the body, so can exert its cooling action on the skin covering the internal organs which is a definite plus. A high-quality, effective coat.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk or viovet.co.uk

    Kipetto watermelon cooling dog vest

    Kipetto Watermelon Cooling Vest

    Sizes: M–XL
    Colour: Red/green

    Reason to buy: Super-fun design
    Reason to avoid:
    Not the most straightforward fit

    This one is a bit of fun! It’s not as high-tech as others on this guide, but it’s a great price and will spark a giggle while out and about on a summer’s day – while keeping your dog cool. Who doesn’t feel better at the sight of watermelon on a hot afternoon?

    It is made of cooling fabric, which is both breathable and highly absorbent. You dunk it in cold water and wring out the excess. It is a very lightweight jacket, so while it might not be the most advanced in terms of cooling technology, it won’t trap heat when the water has evaporated.

    You need a fairly compliant dog who is used to a bit of dressing up as the design has no straps, meaning you have to wriggle legs and head through the holes.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk

    How to choose the best dog cooling jacket

    First of all, think about how you want to use the jacket. Will your active dog be wearing it to keep him cool on a walk? If so, will he be on- or off-lead? If you plan to use the jacket while exercising, a secure but non-restricting fit will be a priority, especially if you plan to let him off. You don’t want loose material getting caught on anything. Look at designs with a harness-style fit that stay in place while allowing freedom to move. These jackets typically have less coverage, but allow a more secure fit.

    If you plan for your panting pooch to wear his jacket while relaxing at home or in the garden, he’ll still need a comfortably fitting one. However, if he’ll mostly be reclining in the shade, the fit can be a bit more relaxed. If your pup’s a bit of a Houdini, you might want to opt for a jacket with leg straps so he can’t easily wriggle out.

    Next, consider it is possible to find jackets that work with frozen gel packs. Bear in mind that the gel packs can be heavy, which is an important consideration, as carrying extra weight around can make dogs hot with additional effort. Alternatively, you could consider doubling up on cooling power by kitting out your canine with one of the best dog cooling mats to lie on.

    Finally, don’t leave the sizing to chance. Once you’ve selected the best jacket for your dog, have a look at the size guide. This will show you how to measure up your dog for the best fit and give you the best idea of which size to buy. It’s always good to leave out the guesswork if you can. A little tip: use a length of string to obtain your dog’s measurements and then measure the string (especially useful if you only have a metal measuring tape!)

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