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5 Best Dog Cooling Vests and Bandanas to Prevent Your Dog from Overheating

Heatstroke can be fatal for dogs, but you can protect them and have a fun summer in the sun by using a dog cooling vest or bandana.

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5 Best Dog Cooling Vests And Bandanas To Prevent Your Dog From OverheatingRD.COM, VIA MERCHANT (3)

When summer arrives, we can’t wait to share the outdoor fun with our dogs. However, dogs wear fur coats year-round, making it challenging for them to regulate body temperature. While their furry protection helps prevent sunburn, it also traps heat. Dogs primarily cool off through panting and evaporating moisture from their tongues. Unfortunately, on scorching days when outside temperatures match or exceed their body temperature (100-102.5 degrees), panting alone is insufficient. This is where a dog cooling vest can make a significant difference, helping to keep them cool and safe. Heat stroke in dogs can quickly become a fatal threat without proper precautions.

While exercise is crucial for a dog’s physical and emotional well-being, summer safety must be prioritized. Heatstroke can rapidly claim the lives of dogs, particularly older ones and flat-faced breeds like Bulldogs and Pugs. Even high-energy pups, such as Border Collies, may continue playing in extreme heat until they collapse.

To mitigate the risk, never expose dogs to extreme temperatures or allow excessive exercise during the hottest part of the day. Restrict activities to the cooler mornings or evenings, and always provide shade, cold water and access to adequate air circulation. It’s important to note that even a dog cooling vest cannot fully protect paw pads from scorching surfaces—you’ll need dog shoes for that. To ensure your canine remains cool and safe while enjoying summer activities, pick up a dog cooling vest or bandana.

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Ruffwear Swamp Cooler Dog Harness
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Best overall dog cooling vest

Ruffwear Swamp Cooler Dog Harness

The Ruffwear Swamp Cooler Dog Harness is the best overall dog cooling vest for its smart and easy-to-use design. Simply wet the harness and put it on your dog to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable outing in the sun. This is a must-have addition to your accessory arsenal, particularly during car rides with your loyal companion. The design not only doubles as a walking harness (just clip a leash directly to the back next to the padded handle), but it also incorporates built-in evaporative cooling technology for the back, chest and tummy.

Open sides mean it won’t bind the dog’s legs or interfere with movement. With specialized layers, the wicking outside reflects heat and promotes increased evaporation, while the middle layer absorbs and stores water for effective cooling. The lightweight mesh, inside layer keeps dogs dry and comfortable. Choose from six sizes, then further tailor the fit to your pup with six points of adjustment.

Pros

  • Multiple layers for reflection, cooling and protection
  • Doubles as a walking harness
  • Minimalist design
  • Six places to adjust for the perfect fit
  • Two spots for leash attachment, plus a padded handle
  • Five sizes from XXS to XL
  • Three colors

Cons

  • Pricey

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Dogzstuff Dog Cooling Vest
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Best budget dog cooling vest

Dogzstuff Dog Cooling Vest

Budget-conscious shoppers, add this lightweight dog cooling vest to your cart, stat. The lightweight microfiber fabric provides sun protection and cools through evaporation. You can easily fit your dog’s regular harness over it for added security. To use, simply wring out the vest after soaking it, slip it over your dog’s head and securely fasten it around their tummy using the Velcro flaps, creating a snug fit.

For an extra chill, place the wet vest in a baggy and refrigerate for thirty minutes before putting it on your dog. Even if the fabric dries while you’re out and about, you can easily re-soak it using a dog water bottle without needing to remove the vest. With two fashionable color options and a range of sizes from XS to XL, finding the perfect fit for your canine companion is a breeze.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • UPF 50+ sun protection
  • Lightweight and thin fabrics wear easily under regular harness
  • Velcro straps for easy fitting
  • Comes in five sizes and two colors

Cons

  • Dries quickly in the sun
  • May stretch with lots of use

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Kurgo Core Cooling Dog Vest
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Most versatile dog cooling vest

Kurgo Core Cooling Dog Vest

For its convenience and adaptability, choose the Kurgo Core Cooling Dog Vest, a versatile option that can be worn over your dog’s regular harness (excluding dog life jackets). Open the top zipper to hook the dog leash to the harness or collar below. The dog cooling vest effectively covers the back and chest, securing under the tummy with an adjustable strap to provide a snug and comfortable fit.

Its light color and reflective material helps deflect the sun’s rays, while the wet fabric promotes cooling through evaporation. You can easily re-wet the vest as needed to ensure your dog stays cool and comfortable while enjoying outdoor activities.

Pros

  • Fits on top of existing harness
  • Two-way zipper access to hook leash through vest
  • Reflective and cooling
  • Machine-washable
  • Four sizes

Cons

  • Dries quickly, requires repeated wetting
  • Only one color

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All For Paws Chill Out Bandana
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Best dog cooling bandana

All For Paws Chill Out Bandana

Not all pets tolerate dog cooling vests, but you can still assist them in staying cool with the convenient and easy-to-wear Chill Out Bandana. Similar to vests, you simply soak the neck band in cold water, wrap it around your dog’s neck and secure it with Velcro. The bandana operates by utilizing evaporation to provide a cooling effect. For an added chill, you can store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Freezing is also an option, but it may cause the fabric to stiffen, reducing flexibility. The bandana covers a significant portion of the shoulders and the front of the chest, offering dogs relief from heat while maintaining a stylish appearance. Additionally, it is very affordable and is available in three sizes, ensuring a proper fit for various dog types. Pick up a cooling dog bed so your pooch has a refreshing place to rest and relax after a long day in the sun.

Pros

  • Ideal for dogs that hate vests
  • Convenient to put on and take off
  • Three sizes
  • Fastens easily with Velcro
  • Economical (less than $15)

Cons

  • Velcro may wear out with use
  • Some reviewers complain of odor

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Coolerdog Ice Vest And Collar
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Best cooling belly band and collar

CoolerDog Ice Vest and Collar

Developed in collaboration with veterinarians, the CoolerDog Ice Vest and Collar offers you two innovative products at a reasonable price, utilizing unique technology distinct from other dog cooling vests. Both the collar and the belly band feature specially designed pockets that securely hold pre-frozen FlexiFreeze ice packs (two sets included). The CoolerDog targets optimal cooling areas in canines (the neck and belly), delivering cooling relief for approximately 30 minutes.

The vest wraps snugly around the dog’s torso, while the collar fits comfortably around the neck. An adjustable strap connects them between the front legs to keep the body wrap securely in place. Crafted from machine-washable chew-resistant fabric, the vest and collar fasten effortlessly with Velcro, eliminating the need for buckles or hooks. Enhance your dog’s comfort outdoors even more with one of these elevated dog beds.

Pros

  • Comfortable and adjustable with no buckles to pinch your pup
  • Developed with vets
  • Reasonably priced
  • Comes with two FlexiFreeze ice packs (extras available)
  • Stays cool for 30 minutes
  • Velcro fitting attachments
  • Four sizes
  • Machine-washable

Cons

  • Runs smaller than expected for wide-necked dogs (Pugs, Frenchies)
  • FlexiFreeze packs thaw quickly

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What to consider when buying a dog cooling vest

When making the decision to buy a dog cooling vest or dog cooling bandana, it’s important to assess your dog’s activity level first. If your pet is primarily a house dog who only spends short periods of time in a fenced yard for supervised games of fetch, a cooling bandana may suffice. However, if you have an active companion who enjoys jogging, hiking, camping or accompanying you on boat rides across the lake, they require additional protection.

It’s also important to consider your dog’s age, as puppies tend to have boundless energy and may easily overexert themselves, while senior dogs and breeds with short muzzles are more prone to overheating. Prioritize investing in the best product you can afford to safeguard your beloved family member, as health and safety should never be compromised.

Next, take precise measurements of your dog. Use a tape measurer to determine the inches around your dog’s girth (the area behind the front legs), their neck circumference and the length from the collar to the tail. It’s also essential to choose a vest that matches your dog’s body shape. Additionally, combining a cooling vest with other cooling pet products can help ensure your dog remains comfortable and safe in warm weather conditions.

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FAQ

Do dog cooling vests actually work?

Yes. Most dog cooling vests use evaporation to cool off your dog. Plain water—hosing down your pooch—is also effective, but it’s a messy way to keep pups chilled (that works better on shorter fur, as longer fur doesn’t evaporate and cool effectively). The vest material does the same job, but better. You soak the vest in cool or cold water before putting it on the dog. The material speeds up the evaporation process, without the need to keep your dog wet. Some dog cooling vests also help reflect heat.

Stick a wet vest in the refrigerator in advance to increase the chill effect. Other dog cooling vests include ice pack inserts to keep dogs cool. Dog cooling bandanas also offer a cooling alternative for dogs that don’t easily tolerate a full vest, or ones that only need short-term cooling comfort while outside.

What’s the best dog cooling vest?

The best dog cooling vest is a well-fitting garment that enables easy movement, allowing your dog to play freely. The most effective vests incorporate conductive layers in their design, actively drawing heat away from your dog’s body and creating a cooler environment around them. If you intend to venture outside your yard, ensure that the vest either has a built-in leash attachment or can be comfortably worn over or under your dog’s regular harness or collar.

How do you wear a dog cooling vest?

Different dog cooling vests fit in various ways. Most fit over the dog’s head and across the back, with portions wrapping around the body. They attach with buckles and straps, or sometimes Velcro.

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Amy Shojai, CABC
Amy Shojai, CABC, is a certified animal behavior consultant and nationally known authority on pet care and behavior. She began her career as a veterinary technician and is the award-winning author of more than 35 pet titles, including pet-centric thrillers.
She writes for the veterinary and pet products industry, with more than 4,000 articles and columns published. Amy wrote the expert content at puppies.About.com and cat behavior content at cats.About.com (now TheSpruce.com). In addition to Family Handyman, she has written for Reader's Digest, HuffPost, MarthaStewartLiving.com, Chewy.com, DailyPaws.com, FearFreePets.com, HillsPets.com, AdamsPetCare.com, Purina, HomeAgain, Sergeants, Good Good, Catster.com, Dogster.com, Daily Paws and many more.
She hosted the Pet Peeves radio podcast, offers a fun Ask Amy video on YouTube and appears as a pet expert on Animal Planet’s DOGS 101 and CATS 101. Amy toured as the national spokesperson for Purina Kitten Chow “Lifetime of Love” and the Cat Chow “Way of Life” and wrote the award-winning “Cats Emotional Health” column as a Cat Chow Mentor for more than a decade.
Amy frequently lectures at conferences and gives webinars about writing as well as a variety of pet-related issues. Perhaps most memorably, she represented the “cat side” and won a nationally televised tongue-in-cheek debate (NBC Today Show, Fox, CNN and others), arguing whether cats or dogs are the more appropriate White House pets.