The UK is enjoying a June heatwave as warm air pushes in and temperatures in the South East and across the country are widely reaching 30 degrees for a sustained duration.
Our dogs Albie & Kizzie are taking early morning and evening walks to try and avoid the worst of the heat but even by 6am it's warm enough that we are all sticky, hot and uncomfortable - ideal conditions for Albie to road test the updated Ruffwear Swamp Cooler 2017 dog cooling coat.
Buy the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler Cooling Coat here or read on for our full product review.
The Ruffwear Swamp Cooler has long been a central part of the Ruffwear dog cooling range and in 2017 received an update with a refreshed design offering a new and impressive feature.
We were really excited to find the design upgrade now includes the addition of a lead portal on the back of the coat allowing access to your dog's harness (there has also been additional reflective piping added).
The Swamp Cooler is available in one colour, silver-grey and features a bright blue panel with contrasting yellow piping that runs along both sides. There is an impressive size range comprising six different sizes to fit most breeds of dog from miniature to giant.
Designed to provide full body coverage for your dog the Swamp Cooler gives shade from the sun and maximum evaporative cooling to help disperse heat from your dog's core. Ideal for everyday use and hiking the Swamp Cooler is perfectly suited to the type of activity our dog Albie enjoys, for more active dogs that enjoy high-intensity activities the Ruffwear Jet Stream could provide an excellent alternative with a streamlined athletic fit.
We really liked how the Swamp Cooler covered Albie's body, it gave good coverage across his back and underneath his tummy over his chest area so he can benefit from the technical three-layer evaporative fabric keeping him as cool as possible.
The lead portal on the back is well located and allowed his lead to come through the coat without pulling the fabric out of place.
The clips to fasten the coat are a very welcomed feature by Albie - he hates the velcro straps that some cooling coats use to fasten them.
We instantly appreciated the lead portal feature, it makes the coat flexible for a variety of different situations and it's compatible with Albie's Ruffwear Front Range dog harness.
Albie is wearing a size medium coat which has a girth ending at 32 inches, his girth measures at just over 30 inches so he was comfortably in the size range and once we put it on we could see it was a great fit.
There was no excess fabric flapping around his sides so there was nothing to distract him or worry him and the coat is kept close to his body without being restrictive. We believe it was these factors that meant he was happy to wear the coat and we experienced no problems with him showing signs of unease over his new accessory. The excellent tailored design and fit allowed him to get the best cooling effect from the three-layer evaporative system.
Putting the coat on was a simple case of slipping it over his head and then fastening the two girth straps with the easy to use buckle clips. Adjusting the girth straps was simple and quick too. The whole process took no more than a minute or two before we were up and running - or rather walking!
For Albie to get the full benefit from his new cooling coat we had to 'activate' the Swamp Cooler. It was really easy to do and took just a couple of minutes.
To start the cooling process the coat needs soaking in cold water which we did by running it under our bath tap and it then any excess water needs to be wrung out. Because the Swamp Cooler is a larger coat with more fabric than the Jet Stream it took a couple of times to wring out the excess water, we found taking each bit of the coat in stages appeared the most effective way to stop any drips. We were surprised at how much water soaked into the fabric so be generous when wetting it.
Ruffwear describe the process of how their dog cooling coats for hot weather work in a really relatable way;
"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? Simply put, yes!
We soaked the coat before leaving home and after a short 15-minute drive arrived at one of our normal walks around 6pm with the coat still wet and with no need to re-wet it.
The temperature was 32 degrees when we arrived and the location we walked at doesn't have as many shady spots as where we walked when reviewing Kizzie's Ruffwear Jet Stream (read the review here).
Albie enjoyed sniffing all his favourite spots and did his usual canter/trot from grassy patch to grassy patch! While in the enclosed field he was completely off lead so could roam around as he wished and all at his own pace. It wasn't long until he looked at us expectantly... he knew we were at the place where we play ball! We played fetch with him for about 10 minutes, even with the cooling coat it was oppressively hot and we thought that was plenty of play and took a quick break together in the shade under a big oak tree.
We then went on a short lead walk around the area to really test out the lead portal and see how well the coat would stay in place when in use - we experienced no issues, the coat didn't slip to either side and remained perfectly in place.
We checked under the coat several times, it remained cool and damp for the duration of the walk which lasted approximately 45 minutes in total. Returning to the car the temperature hadn't changed and was still a sticky 32 degrees! Albie although hot did seem more comfortable than our previous days walk where he had no cooling coat in very similar weather conditions. His panting was less and his recovery rate appeared much quicker.
We got our size large Ruffwear Quencher travel dog bowl (click here) out and filled it with water so Albie could enjoy a big drink!
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 Swamp Cooler bringing 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 Albie's comfort levels when wearing the coat compared to a similar walk the previous day without his cooling coat (see our Jet Stream review which was done just 24 hours earlier). The amount of activity, type of activity and individual weather conditions from an overcast humid day to bright sunshine with a breeze will also likely affect the vests performance.
We really like how the coat looks, the aqua blue and yellow piping look really smart and makes it very eye catching and stylish. We also thought the colourway was perfect for a hot summers day and it makes a real summer statement!
The Swamp Cooler benefits from the evaporative grey fabric all over the body and we found it had a reliably robust, trustworthy appearance with soft fabric making it pleasing to the eye.
The reflective piping will help keep Albie visible on a hot muggy nights walk (or as my gran would say a hot 'fuggy' night!) and the addition of a flash of blue and yellow helped keep him visible in daylight even when at a distance.
We chose the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler for Albie because he isn't really an athletic dog who partakes in high-intensity activities (unlike our other dog Kizzie!). He seems to most enjoy normal everyday walks and hikes which is exactly the activity that Ruffwear have designed this dog cooling coat for.
Albie's fur is very dense and thick so the full coverage provided by the Swamp Cooler will give him the best chance of staying cool while it works the evaporative cooling. We are also still training Albie to recall reliably (he is six!) and we often walk him with the use of a long line when off-road or using a front and back clipping harness when on the pavements so the lead portal was an instantly attractive feature that came as a real bonus providing a solution not given by many other dog cooling coats.
Our other dog Kizzie uses a Ruffwar Jet Stream because of how active she is. The active, athletic fit of the Jet Stream is very well suited to how Kizzie rushes around on her walks and Ruffwear have designed it as an active coat for active dogs (read our review here).
Swamp Cooler Overview (Buy here)
Jet Stream Overview (Buy 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 weren't quite sure what to expect from the Swamp Cooler having previously used other dog cooling coats with limited success. However, we are really pleased with the results. It certainly kept Albie cool, looked great and was seemed more effective than other dog cooling coats we have tried in the past.
One of our favourite things is the versatility the Swamp Cooler provides. We know it's keeping Albie cool and we can use it both on a roam around the countryside and normal lead walk, it's fantastically flexible.
There is 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 sun is setting but our garden thermomenter is still at 30 degrees. We are comfortable in the knowledge that Albie will be able to use his cooling coat out on walks and also around the house which was never a possibility with our previous cooling coats due to the amount of water that dripped out of them, something the Swamp Cooler hasn't appeared to do when taking the time to wring it correctly.
Although we would always advise caution walking your dog in hot weather the Swamp Cooler has given us confidence that we can do everything possible to keep Albie 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.