We all know that most dogs love splashing around in water whenever they get half a chance. But have you ever considered that a dog life jacket may be a good investment for your pooch? Of course, many breeds of dog are natural swimmers and love the water. But even so, the advantages of wearing a dog life jacket are worth looking at in more detail.
There are all sorts of factors which could make it difficult for your furry friend to swim including rough weather conditions, tiredness, physical condition, and other distractions. Also, open water swimming can be particularly dangerous for dogs A dog swim vest provides them with that extra level of security and you with peace of mind. So, in this blog post, we will run through a few of the best dog life jackets on the market to simplify the task of choosing a dog life preserver which is the right fit for your four-legged friend.
The Best Dog Life Jacket
Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket
Available in sizes ranging from x-small to x-large, this dog life jacket from Outward Hound is designed to suit all sorts of different dogs. You can strap them in tightly with the belly buckles and chest straps, while the dual handles are built into the design to make both rescue and restraint easier. And with its bright orange colour and reflective panelling, you don’t have to worry about visibility being an issue.
Buoyancy is assured thanks to the foam panels and secure neck float which is designed to help keep your dog’s head above the water level. The Velcro tabs help to prevent the straps from getting caught on obstacles while your furry friend is swimming.
Buoyant foam panels and secure neck float for comfortable above-water swimming
Bright colour and reflective straps for maximum visibility
Side handles for easy rescue and restraint
Available in five different sizes and securable with belly buckles and chest straps
- BrandOutward Hound
- Weight11.7 ounces
RUFFWEAR – K-9 Float Coat for Dogs
Designed to support a natural swimming position with its foam panels, the webbing which this dog life jacket is made with is also water-friendly and abrasion-resistant. A variety of types of dog are accommodated for thanks to the six available sizes and the telescoping, adjustable neck closures. You can also secure the side straps for a snug fit. At the top is a strategically-placed handle which allows you to help your splashing hound out of the water.
The colour is bright and there is also a reflective trim in the design so that your dog is less likely to swim out of sight. At the sides are easy-to-clip side buckles which hold the straps firmly in place.
Made with water-friendly and abrasion-resistant materials
Suitable for a range of dog shapes and sizes
Fully adjustable neck closures and side straps
Top handle to hold your dog in place or pull them out of the water
Paws Aboard Neoprene Doggy Red Life Jacket
Made in a bright red colour with reflective strips, making sure that your pooch is fully visible is one of the first priorities with this dog life jacket. A number of sizes are available, so measure your dog to check their size before opting for the right one – a cosy and secure fit should be aimed for. There is also a breathable mesh underbelly for added comfort. If you feel like your dog is in danger or has simply had enough time splashing around, you can grab them with the handle on top.
Around the belly and neck areas is a Velcro fastening system, which is comfortable, yet heavy-duty at the same time. The nylon straps are easily adjustable, and the buckles are quick-release.
Breathable mesh underbelly
Comfortable and durable Velcro fastening system
Adjustable nylon straps and quick-release buckles
High visibility levels with red colour and reflective strips
- BrandPaws Aboard
- Weight5.3 ounces
EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device Dog Life Vest Jacket
Available in three colours including green camo, this doggy floatation device has been designed and rigorously tested to provide an ergonomic and comfortable fit. Boasting 50% more floatation material than some of the other similar products on the market, your dog’s safety is a number one concern. As you would expect, there an integrated grab handle which helps to lower your dog into and get them out of the water once again.
And if your dog wants to go for a dip but darkness has already started to set in, the highly reflective detailing in the design provides increased visibility. Different sizes are available to suit a wide variety of dog breeds.
Advanced manufacturing techniques and high-quality materials used
Tested to offer a fit which is both ergonomic and comfortable
Reflective detailing perfect for night-time visibility
Integrated grab handle
- Weight9.6 ounces
Outward Hound Dawson Dog Life Jacket
Another pet life jacket option from Outward Hound, this one gets its buoyancy from the side panels which also provide support. And if your dog wants to go for a dip in the winter, warming insulation is built into the jacket so that he or she is kept toasty. On the top are two rescue handles to enable you to lift your pooch out of the water should they encounter any difficulties.
Bright red and orange colours are available depending on your preference to help make your canine easily visible. Choose from sizes XS to XL with the helpful guide so that you get the one which is the right fit for your dog.
Buoyant and supportive side panels built into the design
Warming insulation for chillier swims
Two rescue handles and bright colouring for safety
A range of sizes available for all sorts of dogs
- BrandOutward Hound
Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket
Obviously, style isn’t everything when it comes to choosing a dog water vest, but it is an added bonus that you can choose from eight fantastic colours. Each of them comes with reflective strips for enhanced visibility. Extra padding has been built into the design, but it has also been carefully crafted so as not to overly restrict your dog’s movement. Around the belly and neck is a Velcro system to keep your pooch securely strapped in.
The grab handle at the top is designed to be durable enough for you to lift your pooch out of the water if needs be. Quick-release buckles make it easy to put on and take off your dog as you would like.
Eight bright colours with reflective strips available
Designed with plenty of padding but also non-restrictive movement
Velcro straps and quick-release buckles for easy adjustment
Durable grab handle at the top
- Weight3.2 ounces
Queenmore Ripstop Large Dog Life Jacket
If your dream has always been to see your dog dressed up as a shark or a fish, you are in luck! Five quirky designs are on offer with this dog floatation vest, but quality is still a central consideration. The advanced breathable underbelly helps to facilitate proper draining and drying.
Made using ripstop polyester, it is waterproof and windproof, meaning that it can also double up as a cold weather coat. Inside is a breathable mesh lining which has been crafted to be both easy-to-clean and fast-drying. And it is durable enough to continue functioning effectively after regular usage.
Unique design which makes it perfect for a warm weather coat or Halloween costume
Breathable underbelly for quick drainage and drying
Waterproof and windproof ripstop polyester used
Both easily-cleanable and quick-drying
Paws Aboard Double Designer Doggy Life Jacket
If you own a teeny tiny dog, this dog floatation device from Paws Aboard comes is XXS – though other sizes are also available. Buoyancy and visibility are both carefully considered in the creation of this dog life vest. Adjustable straps around the belly and neck areas ensure that you can strap your furry friend in tightly.
Four different designs are available and each one of them is bright and loud enough to help spot your dog in dark and dingy weather conditions.
- BrandPaws Aboard
- Weight3.84 pounds
RUFFWEAR Jet Stream Cooling Vest for Dogs
A little more streamlined than some of the products which we have talked about so far, the Jet Stream has been uniquely designed to cool your dog using shade and evaporative cooling, making it perfect for high-energy activities. So, in warmer weather conditions, they can bolt around without getting overly hot and then be ready to cool down with a dip.
The design is three-layered and built-to-last, meaning that you can keep bringing it out for your dog to wear year after year.
Designed to cool using shade and evaporative techniques
Three-layered design, built-to-last
Perfect for all manner of high-adrenaline activities
Your dog’s comfort is paramount
Vivaglory Sports Style Ripstop Dog Life Jacket
An affordable and stylish option, eight bright and reflective designs are available depending on your preferences. As for the material which it is made using, it has passed CA65 standard which centres on safety and comfort. The design is simple and streamlined enough to not hinder any of your pooch’s natural movements.
Buoyancy is a central feature, and it uses a high amount of floatation material to ensure that your dog stays afloat while swimming. The ‘how to’ measuring chart helps you to select the size which is the perfect fit for your furry friend.
Sports-style design which doesn’t restrict your dog’s natural movement
Up to 50% more floatation material used than other products on the market
Passed CA65 standard
Eight bright and reflective designs available
- Weight10.6 ounces
Best Dog Life Jacket Buying Guide & FAQ
Things to Look for in a Dog Life Jacket
While many dog life jackets include a lot of similar features, there are subtle variations between them which are worth discussing in more detail. So, when you are browsing through some of the dog water vests which are available to you, here are just a few of the main features to be on the lookout for.
A neoprene dog life jacket isn’t going to do much good for your furry friend unless it can float properly! Of course, every reputable dog life jacket should have a degree of buoyancy, but some offer more than others. Not only this, the floatation is provided in different places. Some will have it exclusively under the belly region while others will be more concentrated around the back and sides of the product. And some will also have added floatation around the neck area to ensure that your pooch’s head stays above water. Ultimately, it is worth looking carefully at what sort of buoyancy levels are provided and where it is mainly concentrated.
Another central safety feature of a dog life jacket is how easily you can spot your furry friend when they are out in the water. Many of the jackets which we have discussed above come in a range of bright colours, and some of them also have reflective strips built in as well. If you often take your dog out after dark or you want to ensure that they stay visible in the dingier winter months, think carefully about which one you opt for.
Most of the products which we have talked about have some sort of a handle included, and this is especially important if you need to pull your pooch out of the water. Whether they are in trouble or you simply think that it is time they got out of the water, a tough and durable handle will make this task so much easier. Some of the handles are big and obvious, while others are more subtlety built into the design of the product.
- Size and Fit
Getting the right size is obviously important when it comes to selecting the best dog life jacket for your pooch. Consult with the provided sizing charts online and measure your dog accurately to make sure that the vest fits properly and does the job that it was intended for. Your pooch should be entirely comfortable sitting and lying down while wearing it. Some of the options which we have discussed provide more padding and floatation, whereas others are focused on offering increased mobility. You should also investigate how the vest can be attached to your furry friend – whether there are adjustable straps, Velcro etc. Before they go swimming, it is worth giving them the opportunity to try on the vest and get used to moving around in it.
Why Do Dogs Need Life Vests?
You may be wondering why a dog would need a life jacket in the first place. Well, here are just some of the reasons why one may come in handy – and even be life-saving.
- Physical Condition
Your dog’s physical condition can determine whether or not they need a life vest. Perhaps your dog is overweight or suffering from some other form of disability which makes swimming a challenge. Maybe your dog is simply old and not in the physical shape that they once were. At the other end of the scale, a puppy life jacket could come in useful to provide additional safety to a young dog who is not yet fully matured. And some breeds of dogs like dachshunds simply don’t take to water all that well, meaning that you may need to invest in a dachschund life jacket.
- Open Water/Boating
Just like every human on board a boat should wear a life jacket to make sure that they are safe in the water, the same goes for your furry friend. Even the best doggy swimmers can’t stay afloat for too long. Even if they are not wearing the vest the whole time, there should at least be one available on the boat in case it is needed.
- Poor Weather Conditions/Visibility
Most dogs are not in danger if they are swimming in still water on a warm summer’s day, but things become very different if conditions take a turn for the worse. Perhaps you want your dog to wear a lifejacket so that if they do decide to take a swim, they have an extra layer of protection. Otherwise, it could be that it is starting to get dark and you need the bright colours and reflective strips to make sure that you can see exactly where your dog has gone.
Safety Tips for Dog Floatation Vest
There is no point putting a dog life jacket on your pooch unless you are using it properly. So, here are a few tips to ensure that this is the case.
- Get Your Dog Used to the Vest
First and foremost, you want your dog to feel fully comfortable when they are wearing their life jacket. So, before they dip a paw in the water, you should give them a few days to get used to it. Have plenty of treats on hand to make this task that little bit easier! First, show the vest to your dog and allow them to sniff and inspect it. When you are putting it on him or her, rest it gently at first, leaving it loose-fitting. Over time, you can start to tighten the straps and get the sizing right. Gradually increase their time wearing it until they are fully comfortable.
- Adjust and Secure the Straps
To ensure that the life vest is working to its full potential, make sure that the straps are properly adjusted and secured. If they are too loose, the vest may shift and inhibit your dog’s swimming. At worst, they could end upside down in the water which can end up being very dangerous. On the other side of the coin, if the straps are secured too tightly, this can restrict breathing and also make movement difficult.
- Match the Jacket with the Intended Activity
Some dog life jackets are only suitable for certain types of activity, so think about what your dog will be doing while wearing it. Many are designed for deep water usage, providing a high level of buoyancy. Others help your dog to stay afloat but are more lightweight and aren’t as effective as safety devices. These ones are better in shallower and safer water such as in a swimming pool. Also, some provide a higher level of insulation and warmth than others.
- Don’t Let Your Dog Swim Unsupervised
Even though you invest in a life jacket for its protection, this doesn’t mean that you should let your furry friend go swimming without supervising them properly. Areas of open water are particularly dangerous where there are more likely to swim into strong currents or obstructions hidden underneath the water. Even wearing a dog life jacket, it is still a good idea to limit your dog’s time in these sorts of areas. Even swimming in a pool can prove to be dangerous unsupervised – particularly if there is no easy way of getting out or they can get caught up in a filter intake.
The Best Dog Life Jacket FAQ:
Q: What is a dog life vest and how does it work?
A: A dog life vest is a device which is designed to aid your dog’s floatation when they are in the water, helping to protect their safety. Like human life jackets, they come in a variety of sizes and have adjustable straps to make sure that they are fitted correctly. Many also come with a handle on top to make it easier to lift your pooch out of the water. A good dog life vest shouldn’t impair his or her ability to swim. You may consider investing in one if your dog is old or infirm, if you are going out boating or they are swimming in open water, or if the weather conditions make swimming more dangerous. Of course, you may want to get one simply for the added protection and peace of mind that it provides when your mutt is splashing about in the water.
Q: Does my dog need a life jacket to be on a boat?
A: While there are no legal requirements which state that dogs need to wear life jackets while on a boat, it is certainly a good idea for them to wear one or at least to have one available on board. While many dogs are naturally good swimmers, there is a big difference between taking a dip in the pool and open water swimming which may involve battling currents. You could find that your dog is neither strong or fast enough to swim alongside the boat with you and this can lead to issues. While short-legged breeds can encounter particular problems, the same can also apply to what may be considered ‘boat dogs’, such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers.
Q: How should I measure my dog for a life jacket?
A: Just as dogs come in all sizes, so too do pet life jackets. Many of the brands which we have discussed above have created sizing guides which allow you to match up your dog’s measurements with the correct jacket. You should use a tape measure to measure their length, neck girth, and body girth. It is also worth knowing their weight as well. When you are measuring their length, you should do so from the base of their tail to their neck. For neck girth, focus on the area where their collar would normally lie. As for body girth, this should be taken at the chest, which is the widest part of the dog. If your dog is borderline between two sizes of dog swim vest, it is worth going for the larger size. You don’t want the vest to be too tight and restricting or impossible to fasten in the first place.
Our Top Pick
We have chosen the Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket as our number one pick. Its bright orange colouring and reflective piping ensure that you can easily spot your pooch in the water. And if you feel like they are getting into any difficulties when they are in the water, dual grab handles are built into the life jacket for easy restraint or rescue. Five sizes are available to suit a range of different dogs, and you can ensure that the fit is right with the belly buckles and chest straps.
Safety is at the heart of the design, and the inbuilt foam panels improve buoyancy, while the secure neck float is there to keep your dog’s head above the water. And it has been fitted with Velcro tabs which help to prevent the straps from getting tangled up in anything beneath the surface of the water. The combination of buoyancy, safety, and visibility make this our top pick.
Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket