CoolZone Dog Product Review

Lea Jaratz

Even here in the midwest, it's been one of the hottest summers we can recall (but don't we say that every year?). Our dogs are furry, and because we don't have AC, the best they can do to cool off during the day is take turns laying in front of the fan or on a patch of cool tile floor. That is, until now -- Lyger and Lula have been testing the CoolZone vest and Coolzone pad, with "cool" results.

First, the basics: The products come with UniPack inserts that can be popped into the fridge and cooled off within hours. The gel inside becomes firm and opaque, signaling that they're ready to use. No soaking or freezing needed and no messy water driplets or sweaty ice packs to mop up after. (Read their About Section for the science behind why their method is better than the soakable or ice based products.) You put the appropriate pack into the sleeve in the pad or vest and it's ready to cool.

When the rep from CoolZone told me that these products were designed to help military dogs, including the thickly coated Malinois in Afghanistan and Iraq, I admit that I was a bit skeptical. The products we tested were the pet grade, but I'm sold on the fact that their higher level products are assisting the dogs serving overseas.

The large mat ($189.95) has room for 3 heavy duty inserts. Smaller sizes are available, and as you can see from Lula's modeling, unless you have a giant dog, you could probably get away with a small or medium. Just a little bit of body contact with the mat goes a long way to cooling her off, and she rarely takes up the entire space. While the packs are firm at first, they soften quickly, but seem to provide cooling for about 4 hours. Lula can snooze in all of her usual spots comfortably, just like it's a normal bed. On warm days, I'm tempted to snuggle up next to her to cool off.

The vest ($129.99 for medium) works similarly, but in this case, the packs are nestled up against the dog's abdomen, gently pressing the cool packs against the most hairless part of most dogs. There is netting between the packs and skin, and I've checked frequently to make sure his skin wasn't being frozen or burned from getting too cold, Quite to the contrary, there was never a biting cold sensation, but a very, very cool sensation. The vest is quite adjustable, as there is velcro on both sides and it's secured in place with the collar section, so it doesn't shift, slide or twist on him at all. It fits Lyger quite snugly, but we noticed that the snugness has a calming affect, like a "cool" hug. This dog dislikes most clothes, but he comes to me happily when it's time to put his vest on.

Other considerations we'd like to point out if you're debating buying a vest versus a pad:

  • The mat was ideal for a dog that is mostly sedentary, as I could leave the house for the day and not worry that the dog was trapped in a vest that would eventually become room temperature.
  • The vest was great for an active dog, but I will say that in Lyger's case, the sizing did not allow for him to urinate with the vest on. He's very broad chested, but otherwise small -- so I think he's a funny size. Needless to say, this would be a non-issue with the proper sizing or a female dog. I also do not recommend the vest for a dog that will be left alone all day -- making it more ideal for a dog that is traveling or moving about with a handler.
  • The up side to learning that he couldn't pee (cleanly) with his vest on was that we learned early on that the vest can be popped in the washing machine (on delicate) and hung to dry -- none the worse for wear.

While I'd always felt bad that my dogs were warm and toasty during the summer months, testing these products has made me more keenly aware of the hazards that high temperatures can pose, even to indoor dogs. Dogs that are brachycephalic, elderly, or ill may be especially prone to heat related injury (with life-long consequences) or possible death. So, whether your dog is going on runs, agility trials, drug busts, military raids or just hanging out about the house, be sure that the temperature isn't getting the best of them.

Now, our dogs' CoolZone packs have their spot in our fridge, ready to pop out at the first sign of warm weather or a walk on a sunny afternoon.

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