Top 5 Best Dog Life Jackets (all dog sizes)

dog wearing high quality life vest on surf board

Whether you're going out for a swim in the lake, a dip in the ocean, or sailing on the open seas, it's great to have your dog by your side.

Dogs love to be in the water and often fearlessly jump into any body of water they can.

With that being said, you need to make sure that your canine companion is protected in the worst case scenario.

It's common knowledge that dogs are fully capable of swimming on their own. There's even a swimming technique named after them. But what happens when your dog gets tired or injured? 

Contrary to popular belief, dogs are susceptible to the dangers of water. Failure to provide them with the proper form of water protection can prove to be fatal.

dog swimming in water


Dog life jackets can keep your pooch safe while giving you the peace of mind to go on an adventure with no worry.

Similar to human life jackets, these accessories will keep your dog afloat no matter what.

They fit around your dog's torso and can be used comfortably all day long. Here are 5 of the best dog life jackets available on the market.


5 of the Best Dog Life Jackets for Small & Large Dogs

1. Ruffwear - K-9 Float Coat for Dogs, Buoyant, Secure, Reflective

Ruffwear - K-9 Float Coat for Dogs, Buoyant, Secure, Reflective


This vest from Ruffwear is designed to support your dog throughout the day. It's available in a few different bright colors and includes reflective trim for increased visibility. 

In terms of fit, this vest is snug without hindering their movement. The flotation material is located throughout the vest. It wraps underneath the belly and around the neck. In fact, it's carefully designed to put your pooch in their natural swimming position.

The neck piece is telescopic and can be adjusted to fit your dog perfectly. The bottom closure system is also adjustable. It's protected by the vest material while your dog is in the water. The exterior material of the vest is made from a durable webbing that's resistant to abrasive damage. There's also a strong webbing handle on top.


2. EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device Dog Life Vest Jacket (DFD)

EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device Dog Life Vest Jacket (DFD)

From EzyDog is this versatile flotation vest. It contains thick flotation material throughout to provide buoyancy. The vest wraps around the dog's belly and chest. 

Majority of the flotation material sits on the dog's back, but the security straps on the belly are also padded. The two straps are very easy to adjust and get a comfortable fit. Heavy-duty plastic buckles ensure that the straps stay in place no matter how hard your dog is swimming.

The top features a durable handle and leash loop for added control. The vest is available in bright red and yellow. There's also a camouflage option for hunting near lakes. All options have reflective trim on top.


3. Paws Aboard Red Neoprene Life Jacket, Dog or Cat Life Preserver

Paws Aboard Red Neoprene Life Jacket, Dog or Cat Life Preserver

This vest from Paws Abroad is a simple and effective way to keep your dog safe. It's available in a range of sizes and includes two durable straps on the bottom and around the neck to get a customized fit.

Velcro is utilized as an added defense mechanism against accidental removal. The vest features light padding around the back, chest, and belly area.

It's relatively thin to provide the full range of motion for your dog but still offers plenty of buoyancy to keep them safe.

It's clad in a vibrant red color with a familiar lifeguard logo. A strong webbing handle and reflective stripping are included as well.


4. Dog Life Jacket Ripstop Life Jacket for Dogs

Dog Life Jacket Ripstop Life Jacket for Dogs

Designed to be as comfortable as possible, this vest from Outward Hound is perfect for finicky dogs. The shape doesn't limit movement, so it can be worn on land and in the water.

It's made from strong ripstop material throughout. Thin padding is utilized on the back, sides, neck, and belly. A small padded flap on the neck portion of the vest can keep your dog's head above the water no matter how deep they get. Strong webbing clips make it easy to get a custom fit.

Velcro is added to the neck portion for extra comfort and security. The vest is available in orange, pink, and a bright fish design. There's also reflective tube trim on each side.


5. Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket Size Adjustable Dog Lifesaver

Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket Size Adjustable Dog Lifesaver Safety Reflective Vest Pet Life Preserver

This vest is available in a spectrum of bright colors that are highly visible. The color covers the flotation material, which wraps around your dog's torso and neck. The large flotation panels add maximum buoyancy.

The straps to attach the vest are adjustable so that you can get the perfect fit. Each strap uses velcro and a thick buckle so that there are two layers of protection.

A strong handle is located on the top of the vest. It's accompanied by a plastic leash D-hook. The adjustable straps have vertical panels made from a reflective material for visibility after the sun goes down.


Why Use A Dog Life Vest?

A life vest can save your dog's life when the unexpected happens. Even if your dog's a skilled swimmer, you need that extra line of defense. Humans wear life vests whenever they're in large bodies of water, so why not your dog? The main reason you'd need a vest is to cover all bases and protect your pooch from the following unpredictable factors.

Water Conditions

You can never be too sure of how water conditions are until you get in. Even if a stream of water looks calm on the surface, undercurrents can be wreaking havoc on organisms below. Not only that, but weather and water conditions can change in an instant.

If your dog is caught in rough waters, you'll be thankful that he or she has a life vest on. Even the strongest dogs are no match for mother nature. Dogs may have difficulty overcoming a current to swimming to safety. With a life vest, they'll be able to stay afloat until they get saved.

Behavioral Issues

Dog overboard needs to be saved

Dogs can get distracted pretty easily. All it takes is a speeding boat or rogue bird to catch their eye. They may try to chase the offending distraction, causing them to hop into a body of water they weren't prepared for. 

While you may have a great connection with your dog, you can never really predict how they'll behave. It's a good idea to have your dog wear a flotation vest around water even if you don't plan on jumping in.

Fatigue

To stay afloat without a vest on, dogs have to constantly move their feet. It's similar to how humans have to kick to tread water. The only difference is that dogs have four legs to control. After a few minutes of being in deep water, your dog can get tired and sink. They may not have time or energy to swim to shallower waters.

Life vests put some of the pressure off their legs. While they'll undoubtedly still treat water due to instinct, that extra layer of protection can make all the difference. 

Accidents

A life vest can save your dog if an injury is preventing them from swimming. Dogs may get injured from the impact of a fall into the water, animals, and much more. Boating accidents are quite common as well. If your dog falls overboard, you're going to need time to turn the boat around and reach them. In the meantime, they'll be treading in open water. A life vest will ensure that they stay safe at the water's surface.


What To Look For

Not all flotation vests are made the same. Unfortunately, there are no standards or regulations on how life vests should be made. It's your responsibility to ensure that the vest is suitable for your dog's needs. Here are a few things to look for.

Fit

Vests come in a variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate a wide variety of dogs. Vests are made to wrap around your dog's torso. To be effective, the vest needs to be snug. Too loose of a fit will make it easy for your dog to slide out while they're in the water. Measure your dog's girth and torso. The vest should fit well and be comfortable enough for your dog to perform necessary activities like sitting down and relieving themselves.

Buoyancy

Floating pads are used to keep the dog afloat. However, the placement of the material can make a huge difference. At the very basic level, dogs will need pads underneath their belly. This material will support the bulk of the weight.

Additional material around the sides and back will add further buoyancy. One often overlooked area of protection is the neck area. Should your dog become injured and incapacitated, flotation around their neck will ensure that their head doesn't fall under the water.

Color

Vests should always have a bright and visible color that stands out against the water. Neon yellow, orange, and pink are all great options. The color not only increases visibility for you, but for boaters, swimmers, and anyone else that could accidentally move into your swimming dog. A reflective material is also recommended, especially if you're on the water at night.

Durable Handles and Hardware

A dog life vest needs to have a durable handle on the top. This will make it easy to pull your dog out of the water if they need help. It should be made from a durable fabric with reinforced stitching. The same goes for the clipping hardware. It should be made from strong plastic to ensure that it doesn't break off in the water.

Over to You

Dog life vests are a worthy investment that will help you keep your dog safe. These vests can provide you with peace of mind as your dog explores the water and plays. No matter how smart, well-trained, or in shape your dog is, they can benefit from using a life vest.

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