Keep Dogs Cool in Summer With Pads or Vests

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The best thing to know during these dog days of summer are the signs of heat stroke. The best thing to do is make sure your dog never reaches that point.

One of the best ways to keep dogs cool in summer is to use a cool pad, vest or collar. Such aides are used by military or other working dogs, sporting dogs, show dogs or even pets to stay cool — or to cool down after exercise.

How cool pads keep dogs cool

The pads get cool in a variety of ways:

  • Evaporation. This works like a swamp cooler. Polymer material inside the pad quickly absorbs water and slowly releases it for evaporation making the pad cool.
  • Using water to absorb heat. This works like a water bed. Water absorbs heat well, helping to bring the dog’s temperature down. One variation on this is having a device to pump water across or through ice for more intense cooling.
  • Gel pads that absorb heat. These use a gel rather than water to transfer heat from the dog.  Some gel pads require cooling or freezing; some don’t.

Products to keeping dogs cool in summer

There are many other options with a wide variety of prices.  It pays to shop around; the same product is offered at different prices from different vendors. Here’s a sampling:

Water Cooling Pads

  • Canine Cooler® Thermoregulating Pet Bed is filled with water for cooling with a memory foam liner and vinyl outer cover. It comes in four sizes ranging from small (18″ x 24″) to extra large (36″ x 72″) and one color aqua. Prices run about $50 to $70. This pad can be very helpful to dogs with arthritis or painful joints because of its cushioning qualities and coolness. While it is shaped to fit in most standard crates, it is not designed for use in direct sunlight.
  • Lesotc Dog Cooing Mat is a water-filled mat that is safe and easy to use. The mat is made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) material that is non-toxic. A removable cover is washable to keep the mat clean. Measuring 14.9-inches by 11.4-inches, it suits dogs weighing less than 40 pounds. For larger dogs you can buy several and tape them together. When the water is emptied out of the mat, it is can be folded and is easy to carry. It costs about $12 from Amazon.com
  • Med Canine Cooler uses a fluid-cooled memory foam that is activated with water. The pad is covered in medical-grade vinyl that wipes clean.  Sizes range from medium (24″ x 36″) to large (36″ x 48″). They cost $90 and come in blue.
  • Hound Cooler Dog Cooling System is battery-powered pump that runs cold water from a cooler through tubing inside a pad.  You have to add ice to cool the water. The pump runs on four D-cell batteries or can be plugged into a car cigarette lighter. The 11″ x 22″ pad comes in blue and costs about $100.

Gel Pads

  • Gel Pet Mat  contains a special gel that is cooler than the dog’s body temperature. It doesn’t need need soaking or refrigeration.  It comes in four sizes ranging from small (8″ x 12″ x 1/2″) to extra large (36″ x 20″ x1/2″) and ranges in cost from about $20 to $40. It can be put in a pet bed or rolled up and stored.
  • K&H Dog Pet Gel Pack has removable gel packs that go into the freezer. After they’ve cooled, they can be put in a dog’s bed for six to eight hours of cooling before it has to be refrozen. The blue packs are 9″ x 12″ and cost $30 at Petco. Beds with pockets for holding the gel packs are available starting at $100.
  • COOL Pet Pad is activated by a pet’s weight.  No electricity, water or refrigeration is needed. After four hours of constant use it can be recharged by being left unused for a “brief” period of time. It comes in four sizes ranging from small (11.8″ x 15.7″) to large (45″ x 27.5″). Prices range from $20 to $80.

Collars and Vests to Keep Dogs Cool in Summer

A cooling pad isn’t going to be much use to a moving dog. The same technologies make pads cool can be used in vests and collars. Prices vary quite widely depending on the design and durability of the item.  Here are some highlights:

  • The Cool Zone Working Dog Vest is designed for military or police dogs, sporting dogs or service dogs who are active or working in hot conditions where it’s hard to stay cool. The vest uses inserts that have to be soaked and put in a refrigerator or freezer to cool. The vest covers the dog’s sides, chest and belly.  Sizes run medium to extra  large in blue, khaki, and fluorescent lime or orange. Prices start at $170.  Extra cooling packs are available for $80 each.
  • The Cool K-9 vest is a simpler — and less expensive — alternative that uses polymer crystals to create evaporation to keep dogs cool in summer. It comes in three sizes ranging from small to large and costs $38. It has reflective strips on the vest for better visibility.
  • Casual Chillybuddy Cooling Jacket takes a different approach to keep dogs cool in summer. Its outer layer is a reflective mesh of synthetic materials that reflects light away from the dog.  An inner cotton mesh can be soaked in water to create evaporative cooling. Both layers allow for air circulation. Five sizes are available.

Another type of device to help keep dogs cool in summer are cooling collars. CoolZoneDog.com offers a Cool Collar that works like its vest and can be used with the vest.

KoolCollar has a space for ice or segmented tubes of artificial ice to be inserted into a collar. With the ice, the melting water through the collar causes evaporation.  With the artificial ice, there’s cooling but no dripping. These collars come in three sizes ranging from small to large in blue, black or red.  The collar costs $20 to $22 dollars.  The artificial ice insert costs $10 each.

The Chill Collar uses gel inside the collar.  The whole thing is frozen before use.  This costs about $30. Outward Hound sells cooling bandanas and vests for dogs ranging in price from $4 to $55.

A Final Word About Keeping Your Dogs Cool in Summer

Overheating is a potentially fatal condition. It doesn’t take expensive or high tech gear to prevent it. A hose, a tub of water or even a wet wash cloth rubbed over your dog’s face and coat can help keep his body temperature in safe ranges.