Every year dogs drown in swimming pools, rivers and lakes. Not all dogs are natural born swimmers. Just as some are bred to be around the water, some just are not.
If you take your dog to the water, consider their safety. A life jacket or life vest may save their life. It may give your dog that little bit more time until you can help them out of trouble. Always keep your eye on your dog around water just in case.
Quick comparison guide to the best dog lifejackets
4 reasons your dog should wear a life jacket:
1. Couch surfing dogs
If the only surfing your dog does is on the couch. Some dogs just aren’t built for the water. Although I have seen many amazing bulldogs hanging 8 on a long board, they are not designed to swim for long periods of time. Dogs that are big headed, short snouted, little legged and slightly rotund may struggle to catch their breath when trying to doggy paddle their way out of trouble.
2. On the Go-Go Dogs
Does your dog play until he drops. My dog could swim and play all day and often doesn't know when to stop. He forgets to rest and have a drink because he is so excited about being at the beach. You may think your dogs are great swimmers, but they can easily become exhausted.
3. Salty Sea Dogs
I love salty sea dogs especially scruffy little terriers, but even these need to be protected from the high seas. If Scruffy falls overboard while the boat is at sea, it doesn’t take long to lose sight of him. I have actually done this but fortunately, as each wave rolled through I could see my little fella in his bright yellow life jacket paddling desperately to get back to us. It only took a split second but I was shocked at how easy this could happen.
4. Extra special dogs
Puppies, older dogs, injured dogs or dogs with mobility problems need a helping hand . These often do not have the strength or stamina to swim for long periods and tire very easily. We need to take particular care with these special pooches.
5 things to look for in a dog life jacket
If it is time to consider buying your dog a life jacket, look for the following:
Dog life jackets should have a good amount of buoyancy to keep your pet afloat in the water. Some dogs are naturally more buoyant than others and buoyancy will vary between dog breeds, size and shape. It may be inaccurate to judge a lifejacket on the dogs weight alone. Look for a dog life jackets have flotation under the belly, as well as the surrounding back and sides. I recommend you look for good flotation around or under the neck area to keep your dog’s head above water.
Brightly colored vests increase visibility and help you and others see your dog in the water. Look for reflective material as an extra safety pre-caustion. Spare loops or D-rings are handy if you want to attach a beacon or light to the jacket
This is my all time favorite must have for a dog life jackets. These are great for lifting you dog out of the water. Essential if you are on boats or if you have to lean down to retrieve your dog. Look for strong handles, particularly if you have a larger, heavier dog. I like to see good support under the dogs rib cage to disperse the weight and make it more comfortable for your dog. I don't recommend lifting your dog often as this puts pressure on their rib cage and chest, particularly for larger dogs.
4. Size and Fit.
Critical. Measure your dog correctly against the manufacturers sizing chart to ensure the best fit. Make sure your dog is comfortable, that he can swim, sit and lie down easily, and for our little boys, can pee while wearing the life jacket. All breeds of dog are so different in shape and size. Some have bigger barrel chest, others are long or short and of course really big or small. Size and fit will cary so much so between dogs so ensure you check the sizing charts and measure accurately.
Dog lifejacket will perform differently in different climates. In cold water your dog will benefit from thicker, snugger materials and build of jacket. However in tropical climates and warm water, your dog may overheat and I would recommend a jacket that has a lighter fabric and does not cover too much of your dog. This can be a thin line between having enough buoyancy and not being too bulky. I like to let my dog had regular swims if he is standing around in his jacket for too long on warm days.
Time to put on the life jacket:
- Unclip all buckles and loosen the straps
- Place the jacket on your dogs back and connect the clips and buckles
- Tighten the chest straps and adjust them for a snug fit, not too tight !
- Tighten the neck straps but allow for it to be a loose fit so that pooch can still breath easily.
The best dog life jacket reviews
Every dog is different in size and weight, the condition of were you take your dog vary, the climate and temperature, how often you use the jacket, the flotation required and so may other variations. I have chosen to review the three best dog lifejackets, in my opinion. They all have great reviews, and will keep your dog safe in the water.
1. Ruffwear K9 Float Coat
The Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat is designed for dogs of all shapes and sizes. This is a premium, fully-featured life jacket that includes thoughtful details like a strong handle, optimally positioned to lift dogs out of the water, and reflective trim for enhanced visibility in or out of the water. This is a premium, fully-featured life jacket.
- Built with strong, abrasion-resistant materials
- Natural swimming position made possible by strategically-placed closed cell foam panels
- Strong, low-profile handle is optimally positioned to help dogs out of water
- Telescoping neck closure adjusts for a range of dog sizes and is permanently attached and secure
- Easy-to-clip sheltered buckles keep straps firmly in place over time
- Water-compatible webbing remains stable in wet environments
- Light loop for attaching a light or beacon
- Low-light visibility with reflective trim
- Sizes from XXS to X-large
Ruff wear K-9 float coats come in a wide range of sizes, from XXS through to XL. Measure your dogs girth, the widest part of your dogs rib cage and cross reference that against the Ruff wear sizing chart below.
If you dig is between sizes, then use the additional measurements of coat length and neck opening to ensure you get the most suitable life jacket for your dog.
Reviews for the Ruff Wear float coat are extremely good. 96% of reviewers scored this life jacket as 4 or 5. The few 1 and 2 star reviews only related to getting the sizing right for your dog.
- PRO: The Ruff Wear life jacket is very tough and durable. It has a very sturdy handle for lifting. It is well manufactured and has neat, concealed straps and buckles. Ruff Wear jackets also have excellent buoyancy.
- CON: Being so tough and solid, the Ruff Wear jacket is not as breathable as others. In warmer climates, ensure your dog has a chance to cool down. It is also the most expensive of the jackets.
I always like to see the jacket fitted in the flesh. Now that looks like one happy customer.
2. EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device (DFD)
The Doggy Flotation Device has been designed and extensively tested to give your dog the most ergonomic and snug fit possible.
Our unique Ultra-Buoyancy Foam is strategically positioned around the vest to keep your dog in a natural swimming position at all times.
EzyDog dog life jackets are built from high performance materials to play just as hard as your pooch, keeping them safe and comfortable wherever they may roam.
- The Doggy Flotation Vest boasts up to 50% more ultra-buoyant material, strategically placed to keep your dog in a natural, easy swimming position at all times.
- Sturdy nylon D-ring means you can clip a leash to the vest.
- Rigorously tested to ensure the most ergonomic and comfortable fit possible.
- Easy to adjust neoprene straps make putting on the life vest a matter of seconds.
- Won’t hinder or restrict your pooch’s natural movement
EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device (DFD) sizing guide:
Reviews are very good for the EzyDog life jacket. 90% of reviewers scored this life jacket as 4 or 5. The few low reviews are related to the build quality. Not a common but did occur on some occasions.
- PRO: Designed to keep your dog upright with the head out of the water. This jacket does have comfortable neoprene belly straps and good flotation. May be better is warm climates due to not having full cover underneath.
- CON: Lacks full belly support if used for lifting. Only has one handle which may not suit if you have a larger dog.
3. Outward Hound Ripstop Dog Life Jacket
Outward Hound Ripstop Life Jackets sport high visibility colors with reflective strips and outstanding flotation.
Our unique, multi-handle design is constructed to add strength and durability for pulling dogs out of the water.
- Convenient top grab handle for easy resuce by hand or boat hook
- Front float assists in keeping dog's head above water
- Reflective accents and bright colors for high visibility
- Adjustable straps and neoprene belly band for comfortable and secure fit
- Good bouancy
- Sizes from XS to X-large
Reviews are also very good for the Outward Hound life jacket. 86% of reviewers scored this life jacket as 4 or 5. The negative reviews again relate to the build quality which seems to be not as tough as other jackets.
- PRO: This jacket has a wide underbelly strap that disperses weight well. It has two handles which make easier lifting of larger dogs more
- CON: Not super breathable and may not be suitable for extended time in warm water. Flimsy build quality in some jackets.
The decision on which life jacket to buy will vary on your dog, the condition of were you take your dog, the climate and temperature, how often you use the jacket, flotation required and so may other variations.
My pick of dog life jackets is the Ruff Wear K9Float coat. Many other purchasers agree with 96% of reviewers giving this one a 4 or 5 star review. I have had one myself for years and it is still in great condition, fits well, looks good and provides good flotation for my dog.
Knowing how to keep your dog safe in and around the water is an important part of protecting your dog from danger. A dog life jacket will keep your dog safe in the water and give you more time and more fun with your best friend.
OK one more video just for fun... and because I can't stop watching dogs surf. This is Dice the Australian Shepherd hits the surf at Wreck Beach, Sleaford Bay, South Australia