EQDOG is a Danish company whose goal is to set new standards for dog accessories by utilizing the advanced technology of human products and create innovative solutions. Their products are made with adventure dogs in mind who need durable, well-made, high-quality products that are also comfortable and stylish.
Some would argue that wolves or hunting/guarding/herding dogs never needed a colling vest or a cooling mat, and they were all fine, so all these products are just the result of the “dog mom culture.”
Well, if you think about it, there are many differences in our dogs’ lives these days compared to even a few hundred years ago. First of all, dogs used to live outside 24/7, so they had weeks/months to get used to the weather warming up at the beginning of the season. These days, most family pets spend most of their time in an airconditioned or at least a somewhat temperature-controlled environment, so it's much harder for them to handle the heat when they go out.
Another difference is that traditional working dogs used to sleep through the hottest part of the day - preferably in a hole dug under a bush - and they didn't venture out unless there was something worth checking out.
These days we might have to take the dogs for a quick walk in our lunch break, or we take them with us for a vacation to a sunny beach, or they sit with us on a boat/SUP in the sun. There are also service dogs and working dogs who need to work even when it's hot, and their owner can't choose to only walk them early in the morning and late at night when it's cooler.
There are also many widely different breeds with very different needs and limitations. Originally dogs were bred for practical reasons, but as we all know, in the modern ages, most breeds were more bred for looks which took them far from those original working dogs/wolves.
Dogs are involved in our lives in very different ways than they used to, and many of them need some help to adjust to the situations we put them in. Does that mean that all dogs need a cooling vest/cooling mat or another cooling product? Absolutely not, but learning about these products and knowing when and how to use them can save dogs’ lives.
Evaporation-based Cooling Vests work by creating a big surface for evaporation. They utilize the same process when humans sweat to cool down because when the water changes from liquid to a gaseous state, it pulls energy from its surroundings, creating a small temperature drop.
You could achieve the same effect if you soak the dog before heading out for a walk, but wet fur can cause rubbing and hot spots on long-haired, double-coated dogs, while short/thin-haired dogs dry too fast for this to be effective over a longer period. I always carry plenty of water when hiking with Mia, but it can be hard to pour it on a double-coated dog effectively. Most of the water poured on the coat usually just repels, and half an hour later, the dog is dry again. This makes using water directly on the dog very ineffective and unrealistic if you hike and would need to carry all that extra water.
A cooling vest makes applying water much easier and more effective while it provides a longer-lasting cooling effect. However, the disadvantage of this solution is that the effectiveness of the evaporation process will depend on humidity levels.
On a humid day, the evaporation will be very slow or even non-existent, so instead of cooling the dog with the vest, they just have an extra layer on warming them. On the other hand, if the air is dry and there is a strong wind, the evaporation process will be speedy, and the cooling vest might over cools the dog first then dries soon after.
If you want to read more about the pros and cons of many different cooling products, check out our article introducing many options!
The EQDOG Cool Dog Vest has two buckles and covers most of the dog's back. When coming up with the design, the EQDOG team spent a long time studying and researching the topic and talking to veterinarians and experts in dog sports. I asked them to explain how and why they came up with this exact design to understand their reasoning.
Their approach to cooling the dog is to cool them more evenly (on a bigger surface) rather rather than focusing on the chest/shoulder area only. The reason behind their decision is that the colling effect will only be mild, not like other vests using ice. In their opinion, cooling a dog by 1 or 2 degrees will not have a diverse effect on the joints, muscles, or spine, while evenly cooling the body will result in higher effectiveness altogether. This design also allows free shoulder movement that a more closed design around this area might not.
A vest's smart feature is the zipper on the front. When putting it on a big-headed dog, this leaves room for a wide neck opening but neatly secures it when zipped up. It also has a layer under the zipper to prevent the hair from getting caught in it!
Another unique feature is the use of the ACO-DRY® material and a durable Hex-Mesh Nylon. The fabric is also highly breathable that helps speeding up the evaporation process.
The vest works by cooling the dog through evaporation, so you need to add water to it to make it effective. The outer shell absorbs the water quickly if it needs to be poured over it, but it's the easiest if you can soak and wring it before use.
The snap buckles are hidden between two layers of material, making the design even more streamlined and protecting the buckles from getting caught on something if the dog runs off-leash.
The design of the vest is very comfortable for active dogs: it leaves plenty of room behind the front legs and doesn't cover much from the shoulders. In addition, the material is surprisingly lightweight, even when wet.
The active cooling time is always highly dependent on the weather because evaporation-based cooling vests only work when the air humidity is low. They might stay wet for days if the humidity is very high, but that doesn't mean they cool the dog because the water cannot evaporate, which would cause the cooling effect.
We used it for the short walks during the latest heatwave and in the car during search training while Mia needed to wait before/after her tasks. Being mindful of humidity, I regularly checked the temps under the vest, but it has always performed well so far. Although she was protected from the sun and much of the wind in the car, the vest stayed wet and cool for 6+ hours with medium humidity levels.
We had a few training days with above 80% humidity levels, and on those days, I opted for a cooling mat instead of an evaporation vest just to be sure.
To objectively test the vest's effectiveness, we used the thermal camera that we also used for the winter coat article. The idea was that we go for a walk in the sun and check Mia's coat's surface temperature under the cooling vest when removing it.
The thermal image on the left shows the Cool Dog on Mia, while the second is right after removing it. As visible, the coat is significantly cooler than the dog or the environment, and Mia is comfortably cool under it. We repeated the experiment on two different days, first walking for half an hour on a 28 Celsius (82 Fahrenheit) day, the second time walking for 15 minutes on a 34 Celsius day (93 Fahrenheit), and got the same results.
We also checked the coat's and the vest's temperature with an infrared thermometer to specify the effect. The first two measurements are from her head and side that weren't covered by the vest, while the third is the middle section covered by the vest, and the last is the inside of the vest right after taking it off. I took multiple measurements on each spot, and they were reasonably consistent, so I'm confident saying the vest does make a difference, at least in the surface temperature of the dog.
The EQDOG Cool Dog is a lightweight and packable vest that can provide comfort for your dog on warm days - especially when the humidity levels are low. It is made of durable but soft materials with attention to detail in all design decisions.
Although some performance dog owners prefer half lengths cooling vests to avoid cooling the spine area, this product doesn't over cool the dog - especially if we think about a double-coated dog that is relatively well insulated. It might not be ideal to put it on a Greyhound right before sending them for a run without a warm-up in between, but it shouldn't cause any issues for most dogs in most everyday situations. Although it does not have reflective capabilities, the vest covering the back can also be practical for darker-colored dogs, so their back does not continue heating up in the sun while we only cool the shoulder and chest area.
You can buy the Cool Dog vest on their website and from some other distributors in Europe and Australia. They are planning to enter the US market in the future, but they do not have a reseller on the continent for now. If you are interested in their products but can't find a distributor in your country, message them to see if they can arrange shipping from Europe for you!
For reference, Mia has their Small size Cool Dog Vest.
Many of you asked Mia's measurements to better understand the different products’ fit. Your best chance of finding a good fitting gear is always to measure (and remeasure) your dog. Even we grab the measuring tape before getting a new product - even though we tested a lot of them, and have a good feeling of her size by now.
I share her measurements below, but don't go ahead and order the same size just because your dog is similar to Mia ;)
• Shoulder height: 19.5 inches (50 cm)
• Weight: 37-44 pounds (17-20 kg)
• Widest chest circumference (where the most harness would have the chest strap): 25-26 inches (63-65 cm)
• Neck circumference for collars: 15-16 inches (38-40 cm)
• Back lengths: 22 inches (56 cm)