Swamp Cooler, noun  1. (informal) An evaporative cooling device; a device that cools air by blowing it through or across a moist pad or membrane.


There are approximately 78.2 million owned dogs in the United States. If you are like the millions of other dog owners, then you know they have become an important part of our lives.  From the Humane Society’s website I found these interesting stats:

  • Thirty-nine percent of U.S. households own at least one dog
  • Most owners (60 percent) own one dog
  • Twenty-eight percent of owners own two dogs

Georgie panting after a short walk in Florida.  
He is wearing his Ruffwear Knot-A-Collar and matching Leash

Now heatstroke (AKA Hyperthermia) in dogs is quite common and I have seen estimates that state that millions of dogs die of heat stroke each year. Many are left in vehicles, even for minutes and die and others die left in hot homes or when taken out for their walks or runs.  Certainly active dogs are more suseptible to getting heat stroke, as is the case in humans in hot weather or extreme environments.


From…Hyperthermia is a term describing an elevation in body temperature. This increase typically occurs as a response to a trigger, such as inflammation in the body or a hot environment. When a dog is exposed to high temperatures, heat stroke or heat exhaustion can result. Heat stroke is a very serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Once the signs of heat stroke are detected, there is precious little time before serious damage – or even death – can occur.


Although I am not as active as I used to be when I was younger, I do enjoy taking Georgie to the park and having him run free.  I have taught him to stay as I continue to walk about 100 feet away and then call him. He runs to get to me at top speed so he can receive his treat. At times my wife and I will play a game with him and he will run from her to me and back again.  He is so cute and knows this game and doesn’t even wait for our commands.

Georgie Running on the Beach

He will simply run to her for a treat, then turn around and run back to me to get another one.  After a few back and forth runs, we call it quits and give him time to rest.  Of course we monitor this activity and make him wait for his reward so he can catch his breath each time.  This little game gives him an opportunity to use his muscles, burn some calories and please his pack leader, me.

Now in the summer, I have to be especially careful when I take him out and noticed that this little Chihuahua, Jack Russell 14 pound mix, doesn’t overdue it and get heat exhaustion.  Dogs effected by the heat will simply lie down when they are hot and try to release some of that heat through heavy panting, sweating through their nose or their foot pads. If their body temperature  goes over 104° it will require immediate  action, over 106° it is a dire emergency and they should be taken to the nearest vet or hospital for treatment.

So how do we protect our precious pets from getting hyperthermia and how can we keep them cool when we take them out on a walk, hike or other activity?  Well I have found the perfect product to help keep dogs cool.  It is the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler.  Ruffwear is noted for their Performance Dog Gear®  and manufactures and sells outdoor gear for dogs.

Now the name was given to this vest to make you understand that this is no ordinary vest and at a suggested retail price of $54.95 you would imagine it has to be special.  Well I can assure you it is special.  Ruffwear compares this vest to an “on-dog” cooler. The special fabric used in the vest is lightweight, encourages water evaporation and keeps the dog comfortable. You see, you take the vest and soak it in cold water and wring it out.  Then is slips onto the dog through a neck hole and securely buckles at the ribs.  Once you get the hang of this you will find it fast and easy to get on and off.

As we know evaporation is a cooling process and is often referred to as  “Evaporative Cooling” and you can read more about this process and how it works with this vest here.  The short description of the process is that the water in the vest evaporates and as it does, it keeps the dogs body temperature in check and cools the dog, even in the hottest environments.  When I read about this vest, I decided to give it a shot and if it worked, I would review it for IMPress.

Now Georgie wears a coat in the winter to keep him warm and is used to lifting his legs to get it on because he knows it means he is going for his walk. He wasn’t quite sure about the Swamp Cooler, until he wore it a couple of times and realized that wearing this vest meant keeping cool.  Now he looks forward to having me put it on.

We try to take him wherever we go and this is how we socialized him he has the nicest disposition.  He has become the favorite of the hundreds of people he meets at the stores we shop and loves running in the park.  He no longer pants as we walk him through the hot “Flea Market” on the week-end and doesn’t beg to be picked up and carried in his doggie bag.  He can run as he did before and we have noticed he no longer pants excessively and has more energy.  You know at my age and with my experience writing product review and articles, I have to see it to believe it.

The Ruffwear Swamp Cooler is the perfect addition to your dogs wardrobe and a necessity if you live in a warm climate or if you like to take your dog out in the summer season for long walks, hikes or other activities.  I have noticed that the vest will not only feel cool to my touch for a few hours after I wet it, but I can remove it and wet it again for continued cooling during a long day outdoors.

I usually don’t recommend many dog products since many of our readers are are photographers and journalists, but was compelled to write this review and share my amazing findings with all of you, especially since photographers love to take their dogs on assignments or take photos of them in action.  If you love your dog, as we do ours, and want to enjoy them in the warm weather too, then Ruffwear’s Swamp Cooler is a must buy item.


You can visit their exceptional website and purchase one there. There products are also available at many other internet or retail outlets.  Be sure to purchase only the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler and not a cheap imitation. The quality of the product and the research that went into their design is second to none. The fit is wonderful and I would guess, this little vest, will last for many years. Check out their blog for active outdoor dogs while on their site, there are some great and informative articles and posts there too.  Spend some time on there sites and pick out your favorite gifts for your favorite dog.

They offer free delivery on orders over $75 and have a complete 45 page online catalogue that features their complete line of jackets, vests and other apparel which even includes dog boots. They also produce a full line of accessories that you won’t want to miss. I an assure you that you will love their site, catalogue and products.  Great photos of dogs in action too!

Although the initial cost of some of their products might be a few dollars more then some of the others sold in pet shops or on the internet, I can assure you they are the Mercedes Benz in their industry and as they say, “You Get What You Pay For”.

I have given the Swamp Cooler our highest rating and will be reviewing some of their other products in the near future.  As you can see in our photo at the top of this page, Georgie was taking a walk with our granddaughter Lia and is already sporting his very cool Knot-a-Collar with a matching Knot-a-Leash.

Note:  We wanted to demonstrate in this photo how distressed a dog can get walking a few short blocks in warm weather.  We were in Florida when this photo was taken in September and the temperature was in the nineties. 

The Ruffwear Swamp Vest is available in a number of sizes from XXS up to XL so it can fit almost all dogs.  It is available in Ice Blue and you can find further information on this product here.

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About the Author

Len Rapoport
Len Rapoport
IPA Editor-In-Chief, ID: 1000 • I am an internationally published photographer and the founder of International Press Association. As president and editor-in-chief, my duties at IPA are extensive. For over 40 years I have written articles, had my photos published in millions of publications, record album covers, books, and in the digital media. I was senior marketing and sales executive for major corporations, including my own and as a corporate communications consultant. I have taught photography and formed IPA 20 years ago. I currently work from my home office and continue to actively cover media events in addition to all of my other IPA and IMPress responsibilities.