Cooling Vests for Dogs

Yes, it can be too hot to walk your dog, but cooling vests can help.


Cooling vests for dogs can help your dog stay cooler in hot weather. The best cooling vests, or coats, for dogs are lightweight, breathable, loose-fitting, and light in color. Anything heavy, tight, or dark will result in more heat absorption and retention, which is obviously not what we want. As the owner of a black sporting dog, I have investigated dog cooling coats extensively, and I have two favorites to share with you:

Dogs Overheat Quickly

It’s important to know when it’s too hot to walk your dog and how to keep your dog cool in summer. While dogs do have sweat glands, they do little to cool a dog’s body on a hot day.  The strongest mechanism dogs have for cooling their bodies is panting, which is also not the most efficient cooling system, unfortunately. That means it is on us, the pet owners, to keep our dogs safe during the dog days of summer. Dog cooling vests are one way to help us help them.

Chillybuddy Dog Cooling Vest

The Chillybuddy Dog Cooling Vest’s outer layer is made of a lightweight, woven plastic with a reflective aluminum coating. It is breathable and reflects the sunlight away to minimize radiant heat absorption by your dog. The inner layer is a perforated light cotton mesh that you can soak with cool water to enhance evaporative cooling for your dog. You can make the most of this by carrying cool water with you and rewetting the vest as needed. The Chillybuddy Dog Cooling Vest is machine washable, durable, and comes in multiple sizes so you can find the best fit for your dog. Prices start at $58.

K9 Cool Coat

Saratoga Horseworks’ K9 Cool Coat is also lightweight, light-colored, and breathable. It is made of one layer of a polyester mesh that can be soaked in cool water to enhance its overall cooling effect. The K9 Cool Coat also provides UVA and UVB protection, so it is especially appealing for dogs with sparser coats who are more prone to sunburn. The K9 Cool Coat is machine washable, durable, and comes in multiple sizes. It costs $49, but you can add features like embroidery for more money.

When Is It Too Hot to Walk a Dog?

Cooling vests can help keep your dog cooler on a hot day, but they are not a free pass to exercise your dog for as long as you want in extreme heat. To keep your dog safe and cool in summer, use common sense: If it’s hot and uncomfortable for you, it’s too hot and too uncomfortable for them.

As a veterinarian, I can tell you that there is no specific temperature that means it’s too hot to walk your dog. Many individual variables are involved in that decision, including your dog’s general health and fitness level, coat color, airway conformation (brachycephalic breeds like Pugs, Bostons, and Bulldogs overheat more easily), and the dog’s degree of acclimatization to the heat.

Pay attention to your dog and familiarize yourself with the early signs of heat stress:

  • Glazed eyes
  • Heavy panting
  • Noticeable tongue enlargement
  • Frothy drool
  • Disorientation

To help keep your dog cool while exercising in hot weather:

  • Choose shady routes as much as possible.
  • Shorten your excursions.
  • Exercise in the early morning and late evening hours when the heat and ferocity of the sun are lowest.
  • Make sure your dog is well-hydrated and has access to water before, during (yes carry water for your dog!), and after exercise.