It's Fathers Day here in the UK and it's coincided with a heatwave as temperatures soar to 32 degrees with warm air pushing up from Spain.
Albie & Kizzie are taking early morning walks to try and avoid the worst of the heat but by 9am it's already over 20 degrees, the conditions are ideal for us to get out and test the brand new Ruffwear Jet Stream Cooling Vest 2017 in true Barks & Bunnies style!
Read on for our full product review.
The Ruffwear Jet Stream Cooling Vest is a new addition to the Ruffwear dog cooling coat range introduced as part of their Summer 2017 range. Available in two colours, Blue Lagoon and Salamander Orange and available in six sizes so that all breeds of dog can enjoy the benefits of a cooling vest.
The Jet Stream is an active-fit cooling dog vest that uses a lightweight, stretchy and thin spandex top across your dogs back to provide shade from the sun while the chest and belly areas benefit from the same technical fabric as the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler which disperses heat from your dog's core.
We really liked how it fits close to Kizzie's body without any excess fabric meaning she can really benefit from all the cooling properties without feeling restricted in her movement since she is always active on her walks.
We were really interested to see how effective the Jet Stream would be at withstanding Kizzie's high impact energy levels on walks compared to a more traditionally styled dog cooling coat for hot weather which covers the whole back as well as chest and tummy.
The Spandex is not only stretchy but also very soft to the touch. It's lightweight and thin which is obviously essential to maximise the cooling effect but we think care of the fabric will be required to ensure it doesn't get snagged.
Kizzie is wearing a large which has a girth size starting at 32 inches and it really is the perfect fit for her.
Close to her body without being uncomfortably tight we can see this is an athletically styled dog cooling coat and although on this occasion we didn't place her harness over the top we are confident that her Ruffwear Front Range Harness would easily fit if we took her on a real adventure.
Its really easy to put on, the leg holes are generously sized so we didn't have any tricky moments of bending and twisting her body to put it on, she stepped into it easily, the spandex is very stretchy as you would expect, making fastening the zip very simple.
For Kizzie to get the full benefit from her new cooling coat we had to 'activate' the Jet Stream. This was really simple and far less complicated than it sounds!
Simply soak it in cold water (which we did by running it under our bath tap), wring it out and then it was ready for Kizzie to wear - it took us seconds.
Ruffwear describe the process of how their dog cooling coats for hot weather work in a really relatable way below;
"When you first step out of a swimming pool or a lake, you may notice a cool feeling when your skin hits the air. This is evaporative cooling. In fact, every human being performs the function of evaporative cooling each day through perspiration. When sweat evaporates, we cool down. If we move around, the air flow cools us down even quicker.
Ruffwear’s cooling gear works the same way. It’s built with three layers: a wicking outer layer that facilitates evaporation, an absorbent middle layer that holds water for evaporation, and a comfortable inner layer that transfers the cooling effect to your dog.
As the water evaporates, the heat around your dog is exchanged for cooler air. Continue re-wetting the cooling gear as needed to extend the cooling effect throughout your adventures".
So did it work?
Kizzie's nickname in our house isnt 'Wizzie' for nothing, she has two speeds, stop or fast and doesnt know how to have a meandering summer walk!
We soaked the vest in cold water before leaving home at 8.45am and then drove for a little less than 15 minutes before reaching our walk. It was still completely wet when we arrived and didn't require soaking again.
While walking our chosen route we checked the coat several times and it was always wet, sliding our hand underneath the coat to Kizzies chest, it was always cool even at the end of our 7km walk.
So what sort of walk did we do? The first 20 minutes were in direct sunshine, it was already approaching 25 degrees by 9am and possibly more when in direct sun.
We then walked along a shady path for around 10 minutes and a spent a further 10 minutes resting in the shady wooded area while taking photographs and enjoying the surroundings. We also wanted some respite from the heat for Albie who at this point wasn't wearing a cooling coat, for Kizzie too, even though she had her cooling vest and us humans were sweltering by now!
Returning to the car was another 20 minutes in direct sunshine and when we reached it the temperature gauge read 28 degrees in the shade. (To give you an idea of just how hot it is by 5pm at the time of completing writing this review and uploading the photos our garden thermometer now reads 33 degrees).
Kizzie didn't play ball on her walk, she rushes around enough without it already and we decided that it was just too hot for her to run around, although were note sure kizzie agreed as indicated by her barking for her ball.
For the majority of our walk, Kizzie was panting but she remained cool under her vest and didn't appear to take on that extreme panting that dog owners will be so familiar with and nor did her tongue enlarge significantly beyond its normal state, a very good indicator of how hot your dog is.
As expected the top spandex layer dried out reasonably quickly however that is designed to provide shade and not remain wet to provide cooling, the evaporative technical fabric on her chest and tummy remained wet and cool long after getting home. It's almost midday at the time of writing this blog and it's still damp.
The sporty fit and cut of the cooling vest allowed Kizzie to move freely and run around so we can easily see this vest being used for sporty dogs during high-intensity activities such as agility, gun dog work or when out with their owners who like to run or go on their mountain bike.
Overall the Ruffwear Jet Stream appeared to make a significant difference to Kizzie on her walk and perhaps even more importantly it appeared to improve her recovery time after her walk.
You can see below from Ruffwear's own product testing using their Pointer Ellie, and an FLIR Thermal Imaging camera how effective their dog coats are in hot weather.
Their dog Ellie went out in temperatures of 31 degrees, very similar conditions to what we are currently experiencing and it's clear that there was a significant difference after using the Jet Stream bring her temperature down to the mid 20's from the high 40's.
It is worth noting that these were not laboratory tests, however, we without question noticed an improvement in Kizzie's activity levels when wearing the coat compared to the same walk the previous day in similar temperature's without her cooling vest. The amount of activity, type of activity and individual weather conditions from an overcast humid day to bright sunshine with a breeze will also affect the vests performance.
We loved how this looked and so did several other dog owners that we met on her walk who asked about it.
The athletic fit gives it a really sporty appearance and we loved the bright orange colour - it was well themed to a summers day but also kept her visible at a distance and in the undergrowth when playing hide and seek!
We chose the Ruffwar Jet Stream for Kizzie based on how active she is. Kizzie is also really good off lead and stays close by with a successful and reliable recall (we know, we are really lucky!) so we are able to walk her without a lead and didn't require the added harness hole that the Swamp Cooler provides. We are confident that when needed we can use her harness over the top of the Jet Stream as mentioned above, which makes the Jet Stream suitable for Kizzie for on lead and off lead walks.
Why doesn't our other dog Albie have a Jet Stream you might ask? Well we think he is more suited to a Swamp Cooler as he has very thick, dense fur and will benefit from the maximum amount of evaporative cooling provided by the greater coverage of the Swamp Cooler. We are also still training him to recall reliably (he is six!) and we often walk him with the use of a long line, plus he is far less active on his walks and will happily spend a good few minutes sniffing a single spot, although he walks for hours he trots from sniff to sniff rather than engaging in high-intensity movement.
Jet Stream Overview (Product HERE)
Swamp Cooler Overview (Product HERE)
Both Albie and Kizzie have previously used cooling coats but we found them cumbersome to use and look after when not in use. They were made of a chamois material and fastened with velcro which Albie HATES! Keeping them clean was almost impossible and they had to be kept sealed in a plastic bag when not in use to prevent them from cracking, inevitably they smelt musty and damp.
We went into this review with slight apprehension and are genuinely surprised at how impressive the Jet Stream is. It effectively maximised its cooling properties, was simple to use, while looking great and not obstructing Kizzie's movement or preventing us all having fun on our walk.
There is absolutely no doubt in our minds that it has provided all the benefits Ruffwear stated and once home the fabric was still damp and still providing its cooling benefits.
At the time of writing this blog the temperature is set to stay warm well into next week with temperatures remaining at around 30 degrees. We are comfortable in the knowledge that Kizzie will be able to use her cooling vest out on walks and also around the house which was never really possible with our previous cooling coats due to the amount of water that dripped out of them, something the Jet Stream doesn't do.
Although we would always advise caution walking your dog in hot weather or engaging in high-intensity activities the Jet Stream has given us confidence that we can do everything possible to keep Kizzie cool when temperatures are hot.
PLEASE NOTE You should continually monitor your dog and their cooling coat/vest to ensure the coat/vest remains wet, if allowed to dry out the cooling process will not take place which may result in your dog's temperature increasing.
Some of you may already know that Barks & Bunnies was originally a business specifically making handmade dog treats. We were inspired by our own Golden Retriever Albie who suffers from Colitis, a very difficult condition to live with, and I should know because I have it too - well the human version anyway!