Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Halo Coats Review


Someone has asked some advice about da 2 diffrunt designs of Halo Coat dat are availuble for us blind dogs, and Muvva tried to answer da question on da article page, but reply was too long and Muvva couldn't abbreviate it cos dere iz impawtunt points to mention for boff coat designs.

So we iz puttin dis review here for peepul to read.

Here it is:


This review is to help people who are considering buying a halo coat for their blind dog.

There are pro's and con's for both designs and I've tried to point them all out in this review to help you decide which design would be best for your dog.

I don't put either of the Halo’s on Bonnie at home, it's best she learns how to navigate herself, she got confused when she couldn't bump into things to learn where they were because the halo stopped her touching things with her nose. Dogs use their sense of smell more to navigate than any other sense, so they don't really need a halo coat indoors, nor in their own garden, as long as there's no spikey bushes or twigs that can stick in their eyes, I find Bonnie's happier in the garden without the halo coats on. And she's learnt where the bushes are and any obstacles like plant pots or walls.

Jim Carter, Opthalmic Specialist she see’s for her SARDS explained that in the home it’s best she doesn’t wear any aids for her blindness, as dogs find their way around by smell, and each thing in the house has its own unique smell, so even if you move furniture around they know it’s been moved. As long as you don’t move things around every week that is. Jim’s the top guy in the UK for veterinary opthalmology and lectures at Bristol University as well as holding clinics in the south of the UK. I’m very fortunate that he also holds a regular clinic at my local vets every 2 weeks. So when she needs her six monthly checkup its not a major road trip to get her seen.

I find she’s a lot happier in the home not wearing either of the halo coats. When I first tried them on her in the house she was totally confused and got a bit stressed too. Without them, she learnt her way around very quickly, and now you wouldn’t even know she was blind apart from that funny little thing they do like going around things extra wide, instead of just passing close by. I suppose they know things are there, but not how far or close they are.

So she only wears her halo when we go out and in new places where she hasn't learnt her way around, or visiting friends houses. She feels better with the halo's on then as it gives her more confidence and she feels safer.

Here’s my findings on both designs, I hope it helps.


The Halo For Paws Jacket style

The Halo wire isn’t as rigid as the Muffins wire, so bends out of shape easily and I find very difficult to get the right shape back. So sometimes it’s a bit lop sided.

The problem with this is, if the wire is not adjusted properly, it tends to graze across the eyes when the she turns her head, which can scratch the eye or damage it, as the design of the coat brings the halo wire close to the dogs head and it can bend or become eye level rather than just above the eyes. So you have to be very careful when fitting it to your dog that the wire is bent up and well away from the eyes. From the front there’s no way the wire can touch the eyes or the nose if you’ve bent it into shape properly. You can also adjust the wire as to the amount of wire infront of the nose.

The coat itself is a good design, disregarding the halo for a moment, once it’s on it’s on and there’s a loop to fit a leash so it’s like a harness. It doesn't wrap the dogs body as well as the Muffins coat, but it's a firm fit. It's also not as long as the Muffins coat, but that could be my bad measurements when ordering the coat.

Another problem with this coat is that you can’t detach the halo, so if you’re out somewhere and don’t need the halo, like in the car or indoors somewhere other than at home, the halo wire gets in the way and can knock into or get caught up in things and that confuses Bonnie.

Bonnie is happy wearing the jacket halo but unfortunately having both SARDS and Cushings, both conditions cause her to put on weight, so the jacket is very tight and she can’t wear it now. I have considered making a new jacket but not plucked up courage yet as it looks a bit complicated.

Muffins Halo

I can’t really think of anything wrong with the Muffin’s halo the halo is detachable so convenient if you're in the car it's easier to stick the wings and halo on when you get out of the car or if you're anywhere your dog doesn't need the halo itself you can just take the wings and halo off easily in seconds.

The halo is high above the eyes, so no way can the wire get anywhere near the dogs eyes. So in that respect it’s better. You can also adjust the length of the halo on this design. And if the halo sticks out too far infront and looks more rectangular than round, it's easy to bend into a rounder shape. It keeps it's shape a lot better than the jacket halo does being made of stronger materials.

I do find the jacket part gets grubby so I’ve made a couple of new coats after sourcing coloured denim and extra wide velcro. They were pretty easy to make using the original as a pattern.

I hadn't adjusted the shape of the halo in these pics, it's now rounder and looks a lot better.

I prefer the jackets I made to the original Muffins Halo one, they are prettier, and you can choose patterned denim that suits your dog. So if you have a blind male dog, maybe go for something something more boyish. I found the material for Bonnie's on Ebay, just search for 'patterned Denim' and make sure it's a good stiffish denim rather than a denim look fabric as it needs to be the same firmness as denim used for jeans. I used denim that had a pattern on one side and plain on the other, and then found some fab bias binding on Ebay to match or blend with the material. With the material that was left over I made a matching bandana for each coat, so she looks really smart when she's wearing her Muffins Halo. The only thing is I didn't put a pull ring on the coats to fit a leash, and she can't have her leash fitted to her collar as the wing's get in the way, so I put a harness on her. I should get a couple of leash rings and sew them to the home made coats, but haven't got round to it just yet.

Jim Carter the Opthalmologist says a harness is better for dogs with SARDS as collars tend to put pressure on the neck and the nerves from the eyes travel down through the neck. I didn't know that. Don't understand it, but he's the expert, so trust what he says is right.

Another good thing with Muffins Halo is, if your dog puts on weight due to SARDS or Cushings you can just make another coat and use the wings and halo on it. So whether your dog gets thinner or fatter, the halo is always going to be useful, whereas it's not so easy to do with the Halo For Paw's jacket due to the design of the coat.

I do feel a bit embarrassed when we're out and she's wearing the Muffins Halo, as people tend to stare and think she's in fancy dress whereas with the other jacket they just look at her and know she's blind. Plus where I live people tend to put their dogs down if they’re blind or disabled. Not sure if that’s because they’re not educated about the dogs disability or they don’t feel comfortable going out with a dog with disabled aids, or they just think that because the dogs disabled it has to be put down. I get some pretty weird looks when she’s in her buggy as well, and tend to use it away from home. I throw it in the car and drive somewhere to use it. She loves her buggy and feels safe strapped in it, and again it's easier to put the Muffin's style halo coat on her as the wings detach easily when she goes in her buggy and go back on easily when she comes out of her buggy to walk. You soon get used to the funny looks from other people whether your dog's in a buggy or wearing a disability aid, and you learn to look straight back at them and give them the 'she's disabled get over it' look.

I did find she hates road walking since going blind as the traffic scares her to death, as it would me, hearing cars and trucks roaring past and not knowing how close they were or if they were heading towards me.

So she only really wears her halo coats when she’s in someone elses house visiting, or somewhere strange having a walk, like parks and wild places or even the beach (rocks).

I think she's happy wearing both. With the Muffins one if we're out, as I sad earlier, it's easier just to take the wings and halo off if she doesn't need them whereas with the other jacket design you have to take the whole jacket off.

I honestly think there's pro's and con's for both of them but to be totally honest the Muffin's Halo comes out ontop for me. It's a better design for the dog, easily adapted to have the halo on or off while still wearing the coat, and more convenient for me.

They're both pretty expensive, so not the kind of thing you want to buy and then find out it doesn't suit your particular dog.

Another thing to take into consideration is the breed of your dog. If, for instance you have a big butch boxer, or an Alsation you wouldn't want a sissy looking Muffins Halo coat for him because he wouldn't appreciate his street cred dropping drastically. But you can now get Muffins Halo's designs in baseball player style (I think it's baseball, could be American football).

And you can always make a cover for the wings if you wanted, so they're more butch and not so pretty. Just a bit of imagination and the 'werld's your lobster' as Bonnie says.

I hope this review has helped and if you need any advice, or help or just want to ask a question fire away! It's no bother at all to help.