CHARLOTTE – As temperatures rise and summer approaches, it’s important to pay attention to how our dogs are handling the hot sun. Overheating can be dangerous, even deadly, but a Charlotte company that specializes in technology apparel for animals hopes to change that.
Coolvio recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for its first product, bArctic. It’s a cooling shirt for dogs that converts 98% of all harmful UVA and UVB light into healthy red and near-infrared light. Plus, it doesn’t require any water.
Scientists and a team of more than 30 business partners in North Carolina and the U.S. have already created and tested the newly patented fabric for the shirts. Now, they need backers to help cross the finish line into production and distribution.
The manufacturer will only begin production if the $10,000 goal is met by May 15. As of April 22, the campaign had $9,495 pledged from 137 backers.
“Hopefully by the end of May, everybody will have their bArctics,” said Linda Coad, co-founder of Coolvio.
Coad said the idea for the cooling shirt came last spring during a trip to the beach with her dog, Audrey.
After just 30 minutes running around under the hot sun, Audrey was panting, laying down and drinking a lot of water. It seemed like she was overheating, so Coad wrapped her in the shade shirt she had been wearing. A few minutes later, Audrey was back up and playing for the rest of the day.
“It was a game-changer,” Coad said.
She told her story to the makers of her shade shirt, Lumiton, and asked, “Why don’t you make a cooling shirt like this for dogs?” to which they responded, “Why don’t you make a cooling shirt for dogs?” So she did.
Coad partnered with her friend, Remi Haygood, and the two founded Coolvio. Their first project would be working with designers and manufacturers in North Carolina to create bArctic.
Unlike other fabric, the patented material used in bArctic shirts does not trap and absorb the sun’s energy. Instead, it emits healthy red and near-infrared light, releasing the energy and creating a cooling effect. This is the same healthy light used by veterinarians to reduce joint and muscle pain and inflammation, Coad said.
Because the sun’s energy is released, the fabric doesn’t ever heat up. Coad said thermal images show a dog’s fur stays up to 31.1 degrees cooler when wearing a bArctic than when not.
Unlike other dog shirts currently on the market, bArctic also doesn’t use any water. This means owners do not have to worry about finding or carrying water, and the dog is not weighed down by wet clothing.
“It’s wearable shade,” Coad said. “It really does reduce the risk of overheating, but it doesn’t mean people can ignore the signs of overheating.”
According to Dr. Adam Berman, founder of Quail Hollow Veterinary Hospital on Park Road in Charlotte, signs of overheating or heat stroke in pets include breathing distress, restlessness, drooling, incoordination, pale, blue, or purple gums and collapse.
Dr. Berman said in an email that he can see bArctic being useful for dogs who have breathing issues or are at risk for overheating easily.
“Since dogs do not sweat in the same way people do in order to regulate their body temperature, panting is the main way they regulate their body temperature,” he said. “By breathing quickly, they are able to quickly radiate heat in the air that they exhale and breathe in cooler air to help keep their body temperature normal.”
Dr. Berman said many short-faced breeds such as pugs, bulldogs, boxers and shih tzu’s have a medical condition called Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome. These dogs have narrower than normal nostrils, an enlarged tongue, elongated soft palate and often a narrow windpipe.
“This combination of anatomic features makes them inefficient at inhaling cooler air and exhaling warmer air and as a result, they are prone to overheating very easily,” Dr. Berman said.
Many older large breed dogs, like Labrador retrievers, develop a weakness in their vocal cords with age, a condition called Laryngeal Paralysis. Similar to brachycephalic dogs, these dogs also struggle inhaling cooler air, exhaling warmer air and are prone to overheating, Dr. Berman said.
“It is really exciting to see products like bArctic becoming available as another tool in the arsenal for pet owners to keep their pets safe,” he said.
Haygood said she and Coad considered waiting to launch the Kickstarter campaign because of coronavirus, but decided not to.
“This is the time when people are getting outside. They’re getting out there with their dog,” Haygood said. “We want to extend people’s time outside and not worry about their dog overheating.”
Back this project: Visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/coolvio/worlds-first-cooling-dog-shirt-by-coolvio to pledge an amount and reserve a bArctic shirt. Learn more about Coolvio at www.coolvio.com.