DIY Cool Coat for Your Greyhound
Greyhounds cannot sweat through their skin to release heat as humans do. Therefore, your hound pants. Excessive panting is a sure sign your pet is overheated. Other signs include bright red gums, lack of coordination and overall physical weakness. Heatstroke can cause your hound to collapse.
If you're going to have your hound out in the heat, you can take some precautions to keep him cool. One of those is a "cool coat." This is a coat that takes advantage of evaporation to draw heat away from your hound's body. The cool coat is made out of some material that holds water well and doused with water. The evaporation action draws the heat away from your hound's skin.
TRADITIONAL TERRY CLOTH COOL COAT
This is the traditional cool coat made out of an old towel. It's best to use the cheap towels rather than the over-sized, luxurious ones. Rumor has it that the velour towels will hold more water, so will keep your hound cooler for a longer period of time. When selecting your towel, be sure to choose a light color so the sun is reflected rather than absorbed into the coat.
The stomach straps are a full 10 inches wide, providing evaporation action in the chest area. Since the blood runs closest to the skin around the chest, throat and ears, this is an important cooling feature.
- 1 small bath towel (try to find one that is 22" or 24" wide and 40-some inches long)
- 10" piece of velcro (1" or 2" wide)
- 2 yards of extra wide, double-folded bias tape (or 2 yards of 1" ribbon folded and pressed lengthwise)
3. Fold the bias tape over the raw edge of the V that forms the neckline and top-stitch in place.
4. Fold the coat lengthwise with right sides together. Stitch a seam along the front chest closure as shown in the diagram below.
6. For each stomach strap, fold bias tape over any raw edges and top-stitch in place. Leave one long edge of each rectangle raw. Stitch the scratchy side of the velcro to the right side of one strap. Stitch the fuzzy side of the velcro to the wrong side of the other strap.
8. OPTIONAL (note from Corrigans): Use the leftover towel scraps to make pockets to hold sponges or ice. Remember that the chest area is a good one to cool. In the flowered sample below, I added an ice pocket with a velcro closure stitched in place on the front chest area. I cut two 5" squares of toweling and sewed three sides. Then I turned it right-side out and added seam binding along the top edge. I added a small bit of velcro on each side to hold the pocket shut when filled with ice. Then, I made a straight stitch just under the seam binding on one side to hold the pocket in place on the front of the chest. There are really no rules on the pockets. Just make them the size you need to hold sponges, sports ice packs or loose ice cubes.
There. You're done. If you know you're going to be in a hot situation with your hound, just soak your coat and put it in a zip-top bag. You can even keep it in your cooler. Be sure to bring lots of extra water to pour over the coat as the water evaporates and the coat dries. Your hound will be calm, cool and collected even in very warm conditions.
One note of caution: Cool coats are only effective if the water is kept cold/cool. A soaking wet towel in the sun will become overheated prior to all water evaporating as the water in the coat quickly rises to the temperature of the air around it. Check the temperature of the coat frequently.
NO SEW COOL COAT
For a quick and easy solution or in a pinch, use a synthetic chamois or a towel held on with sheet stays. The sheet stays are the kind with the jaw clamps on both ends. This is very quick, simple and works well, although not as attractive as a sewn one.
SYNTHETIC CHAMOIS COOL COAT
This cool coat uses high-tech, very absorbent synthetic chamois. It's available in the car washing section of discount stores or dollar stores. It is very lightweight and compact and would be a great addition to a first aid kit for your hound. It could be soaked and put in a zip-top bag and kept in the first aid kit, ready for any heat-related emergency.
You could also use regular chamois, but it is more expensive. Also, since it's a leather product, your hound may want to chew on it. The synthetic chamois is advertised to be twice as absorbent as natural chamois, so should keep your hound cool for twice as long.
- 1 piece of synthetic chamois (found in car care section - a 3 1/2 square foot piece will do)
- 4" piece of velcro (1" or 2" wide)
1. As shown in the diagram below, fold the chamois in half lengthwise. Cut 4 1/2" off of one end, leaving 19 1/2 inches for the main body of the coat. From the 4 1/2" strip, cut two 7" pieces and one 6" piece. Cut the 4 1/2" x 6" rectangle down to be 3" x 6"; this will be the chest strap.
2. Sew one 3" side of the 3" x 6" rectangle to the front of the coat. Turn the coat inside out and sew the other 3" side to the opposite side of the coat as shown in the diagram.
4. Go try the coat on your hound to find out where the stomach straps should be placed. You want them to go behind the front legs so that your hound can walk easily. Mark the position.
5. Place one stomach strap on the body of the coat as shown in the diagram below and stitch in place. Repeat for the other strap on the other side of the coat. Remember to place the velcro so that the two sides will meet properly when wrapped under your hound's chest.
Now you have a lightweight, super absorbent cool coat that can be used to keep your hound cool. Fold it up and soak it thoroughly with water. Place the soaked cool coat in a zip-top baggie and store in your cooler or fridge.
These designs are courtesy of Amy and Jack Corrigan, Greyhound Manor Crafts, (c) 1998, used with permission
Note: In the athletic wear accessories departments of many stores, you can find newer high-tech cooling cloths. They are typically narrow, so you may need more than one. They are not cheap, but if you find a good deal, you may want to try one of these designs using those. The great thing about them is they can cool up to 10 hours.