Choosing the Perfect Dog Life Jacket or Life Vest for Your Dog!

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viszla wearing a dog life jacket for puppiesHave you ever seen a dog on the beach sporting a dog life jacket? Wonder where they got it and if you need one for your pup? Pet life jackets help prevent dogs and cats from drowning at the beach or in a pool.

Your four-legged friends may be good swimmers, but oceans and rivers can become challenging to swim in when the current gets strong. Life vests are great for dogs that need a little help to stay afloat, they offer high visibility, and can give pet owners peace of mind. You can use a doggie life jacket during a trip to the beach, on a boat, while paddle boarding, or when swimming.

Do All Dogs Need Life Jackets or Life Vests?

Many water-loving dogs do not need life jackets for swimming in the pool, ponds, or other calm waters. It’s at the owner’s sole discretion as there are no laws regarding life jackets for dogs. Doggy life jackets provide an extra sense of security for dog owners when taking their pets in deep and rougher waters like the ocean.

We recommend canine life jackets for boating, in case your pup goes overboard. Even good swimmers can get caught in the current and tire out. If you’re wearing a life jacket for safety, it makes sense to have your doggo wear one too.

A personal floatation device (PFD) lets dogs enjoy the water longer as they tire out slower. The bright colors make it easy to find your pooch in the water, and the grab handles help pull them out if needed.

Choosing a Life Jacket for Fido: Some Tips to Get You Started

  1. Comfortable Fit– Dog life jackets often come with adjustable straps and buckles to make of a secure fit. The life jacket should be comfortable and not rub under the armpit or be too tight on the chest or neck. Your dog should be able to swim easily with the life preserver on.
  2. Reviews – It’s important to get a dog life jacket with excellent reviews. Some jackets use cheaper materials that will break or wear out over time. The life vest should be made of high-quality materials that are dog safe. Reviews help when purchasing life vests online. Other dog owners will write what they like or do not like about the product and you can get tips on how to find the right size.
  3. Effectiveness – The life vest needs to work, functionality is more important than how it looks. Some low-quality life vests are mainly for show and lack buoyancy. Always test a new life vest out in shallow water first to make sure that it works correctly and that the fit is snug but comfortable.

poodle wearing a life preserver for dogs

6 Things to Consider When Choosing a Life Vest or Life Jacket for Your Dog 

1. Your Dog’s Breed and Size

Larger dogs need larger life vests, while small dogs will need small vets. Most vests come in sizes XXS to XXL and are adjustable like human life vests are. Different brands have different sizes, so you will need to measure your dog to make sure you are purchasing the right size.

It’s important to find a life jacket that fits correctly. Life vests that are too small can restrict mobility, rub in the wrong places, and be uncomfortable. The idea is to make your dog more confident and relaxed in the water, not have them feel confined.

A life jacket that is too big can be equally uncomfortable and even dangerous. If the jacket is too big, your dog can slip out as you try to pull them out of the water.

2. Does it Float? Buoyancy! 

Dog life jackets are meant to float. Buoyancy is incredibly important. The life vest should keep the dog floating effortlessly at the surface, no sinking even if they stopped paddling.

The right life vest will allow the dog to float above waves and not be sucked under unless the wave is powerful, but they should pop back up. Dogs can choose to paddle or enjoy floating when wearing a life vest, so they can take breaks and not get too tired.

3. Materials Matter in Life Preservers!

All life vests are not created equal. High-quality life vests incorporate abrasion-resistant materials. They should have reflective trim for extra visibility. Most high-quality jackets use closed cell foam, which is softer, more comfortable, and allows for more movement without sacrificing buoyancy. Metal d-rings enable dog owners to attach a leash to the jacket, so a harness or collar isn’t needed.

4. Is the Dog Life Jacket Adjustable?

Adjustable life jackets are often more comfortable for dogs and have a better fit. You want to be able to lift your pup out of the water by the life vest handles without them slipping out.

The jacket should be snug enough that they can’t get out of it or entangle their arms. Many dog life jackets are adjustable around the neck and the chest. Adjustability is important because there is no one-size-fits-all for dogs, they have different body styles and fits just as people do.

5. Is the Life Preserver Cameo or Colorful?

There are many different styles to choose from when deciding on a life vest for your dog. Cameo life preservers come in fun colors like blue, pink, or the traditional brown and green.

Colorful life preservers help keep your dog more visible in the water, but the color is up to your personal choice and style. Make sure you can easily spot your dog if they were to fall in the water or get carried out further than normal.

6. Is it Safe?

Dog life vests are safe when made of high-quality materials and fit correctly. Life jackets that do not restrict movement, are comfortable, and buoyant, are safe for dogs and are great to use in the water.

The jackets help keep dogs from overexerting themselves or getting too tired. Dogs are typically good swimmers (some dogs naturally cannot swim, but it is rare) but just like people they can drown or get carried away by the current.

sheepdog wearing a dog life vest

Life Jackets for Dogs: Top Picks! 

There are so many dog life jackets to choose from. It’s important to get a high-quality dog life vest that is comfortable, buoyant, and also stylish. Some brands have better reviews and will help you feel more confident. You can find life jackets online and read the reviews to see how other pet owners like them.

Outward Hound Life Jacket

Outward Hound is a well-known brand that creates excellent products for adventurous pups. Their dog life jackets feature handles, adjustable straps, bright colors, reflective accents, and easy-to-grab double handles to pull your pup out of the water with ease. They come in many different sizes from petit pooches to extra-large dogs. These jackets are made from durable and high-quality materials and should last a long time.

HAOCOO Dog Life Vest

HAOCOO life jackets come in a variety of different colors and designs. They are adjustable and come in a variety of sizes. The jackets have reflexive accents, a clip for the leash, and a single handle to lift your dog. These jackets are great for dog owners that are looking for an effective canine life vest with more options in colors and design.

Ruffwear Dog Life Jackets

The Ruffwear Float Coat is a little pricier but is designed with comfort and ease-of-use in mind. The straps are on the outside and a little more secure than the average lifejacket. Instead of two straps around the neck held together by velcro, there is just one that is adjustable on the side. There is a clip for the leash and a single padded handle on the top. It comes in a few different colors. The jacket is comfortable enough for extended wear even out of the water.

The Best Dog Life Jacket for Doggos Who Love to Dress Up!

life jackets for dogs happy bulldog in pool

If you’re looking for a little more style, you can find life vests that double as adorable dog costumes for your pooch. Your pup transforms into a clownfish or a shark complete with a fin that sticks out of the water. Many of these life vets offer just as much floatation as traditional dog life vests.

Dog life jackets are great for water-loving pups that need a little extra help to feel confident in the water or to keep from tiring out too quickly. Pet owners can feel more relaxed about taking their dogs on boats, kayaks, the beach, or other aquatic activities, knowing their pets will be safe and easily visible.

Life vests keep dogs floating without having to paddle, they are great for exploring or taking a break from swimming. Many life vests feature handles that make it easy to assist your dog or pull them from the water if needed.

Bright colors help spot your dog in the water quickly. The right life vest won’t hinder mobility and will help your dog enjoy playing in the water.

Common Questions on Dog Life Vests

Why do dogs need life vests?

When should my dog wear a life vest?

What brands of life vests are the best?

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