Why would a dog need a life jacket? Dogs can swim, after all. Right?
Well, not all dogs, and not always in the kind of water we humans like to take our best friends out on. Dogs, just like us, can get exhausted, particularly if they’re trying to swim against a strong current. They can also panic if they end up in the water unexpectedly. And then, there are just some breeds that don’t like water, and literally won’t swim to save their lives.
A life jacket for your canine companion could be a life-saving purchase. You can enjoy riversports, boating vacations, and fishing expeditions, all with your furry friend at your side, free from worry about what would happen were they to fall into the water.
- Why Not Just Leave the Dog at Home?
- What Should I Look For In A Doggy Life Jacket?
- Best Dog Life Jacket Reviews 2018
- The Final Decision
- And Remember …
Why Not Just Leave the Dog at Home?
Your dog may not like water, but he’ll typically like being apart from you even less (e.g. if you leave him with a minder or in a kennel). Dogs are highly social animals, and simply love being with their people.
Also, if you are an active individual who requires the support of a service dog, she may well need to be with you while you’re enjoying water-based activities, to ensure you feel safe, and are able to enjoy yourself as fully as possible.
And, finally, it may be your dog who is benefiting from water-based activities. You may need to train a working dog who will inevitably encounter water, or you may be helping an elderly or infirm animal through hydrotherapy. In both cases, it’s important to make sure your canine is kept as safe as possible.
What Should I Look For In A Doggy Life Jacket?
The most important things are that the life vest you buy for your pupper fits him properly, without being too loose, or too tight. Too loose, and the life vest may get caught on branches and underwater hazards, trapping your dog, or may come off completely, leaving them unprotected. Too tight, and they may be unable to assist themselves by doggy-paddling to safety, leading to panic.
It is also important to ensure that the canine life preserver doesn’t feel too heavy or bulky, which can distress an animal, and also that it is brightly colored, for visibility. Finally, make sure the life jacket has easy-grip handles that will support your dog’s weight as you lift them, via the life vest’s handles, from the water.
Other useful but not essential things to consider are vests that support your dog’s head, keeping it above water, and life jackets with D-ring attachments for your dog’s leash, so you can easily transition between water and land-based activities.
When buying a vest for your dog, make sure you check and follow the sizing guide properly, and ensure you get the best fit for your faithful friend.
The following reviews can give you a hand – or a paw! – choosing the perfect life jacket for your dog.
Best Dog Life Jacket Reviews 2018
#5 – Outward Hound Ripstop K-9 Life Jacket (Granby Splash)
This life jacket comes sized from XS-XL, and so is suitable for breeds from Chihuahua to Rottweiler, and everything in between. It offers high visibility, with reflective accents set against a choice of bright colors. There are two large, easy-grip handles, allowing you to easily grab your dog and remove them from the water, and the life vest also features a head rest float, to keep your pup’s head above water at all times. The side fastenings are easily adjustable to ensure a snug yet comfortable fit for your pooch.
This is a reasonably-priced life jacket, and would suit those who are taking a canine companion on a water-based vacation, and want to ensure their safety. This life vest is a little bulky, and therefore not ideal for dogs that choose to spend a lot of time in the water, or working dogs. However, as a basic safety precaution for vacations, it’s more than suitable.
(There seems to have been a rebranding and the company is now called Granby Splash.)
- Bright, reflective, hi-vis
- Dual-grip handles for easy rescue
- Floating head rest
- Seems bulky and heavy for the dog
- Sizing can run small – always order a size larger than you need
Who Is It For?
If you have a pool in your backyard, or you’re planning a water-based vacation and want to take your four-legged pal along for the fun, this is an affordable safety precaution that will meet your needs.
If your dog is a working dog, or you are regularly out on the water, however, this may not be the best life jacket for your dog’s lifestyle.
If you have a particularly large breed dog, it is worth spending a little bit extra to get a life vest where the sizing is more accurate.
Is it Value For Money?
As long as you understand that this life vest is not for dogs that are regularly in or on the water, it’s a good buy at a decent price. Ideal for the vacation-essentials pack.
- CAUTION: This is a floatation aid intended for use on a conscious dog in calm waters. Use rescue handle to life dogs in emergencies only. Do...
- CAN'T MISS COLOR: Whether your dog splashes near the shore or plays in the waves, the Granby dog life jacket by Outward Hound was made to be...
- PADDLE AND PLAY: The Granby Splash dog life jacket by Outward Hound is constructed with extra durable ripstop material that provides...
#4 – VivaGlory Dog Life Jacket
This one comes in a range of bright colors, all of which are reflective, in sizes XS-XL, meaning that you should be able to pick a life vest no matter what size of dog you have. This life vest seems to sit lightly on a dog, leaving them free to enjoy themselves and move around easily. It features a single top grab handle, which can also be caught by a boat hook, allowing you to easily pull your dog from the water should they end up in difficulty. There is also a D-ring to attach your dog’s leash once you are back on land, or if you need to tether them in the boat.
The stitching around the handle does not seem particularly durable, although it would be fine for occasional use, such as on vacation. Also, the fasteners have a tendency to come loose, which could pose a safety risk for your dog.
This is an inexpensive life jacket, and may be a good choice for those with a pool in their home or yard, who want to ensure their dog doesn’t end up in trouble while they’re enjoying themselves.
- Fully reflective
- Light and easy to wear
- Stitching isn’t very durable around grab handle
- Fasteners seem to come loose easily
Who Is It For?
The VivaGlory life jacket would be an ideal, inexpensive purchase if you have both dogs and a pool at home. It gives you peace of mind, knowing that, should your dog accidentally end up in the pool, he can easily be rescued.
Is it Value For Money?
As long as you acknowledge the limitations of this life vest, it’s a good, inexpensive buy to have around the house for those times when your dog wants to frolic in the pool, and you want to know she’s safe.
- BRIGHT COLOR: 8 different colors available, including 3 particularly BRIGHT colors and 2 Upgraded Camo style. REFLECTIVE detailing increases...
- SAFE MATERIAL: the materials of Vivaglory dog life jacket have passed CA65 standard, keeping your dog safe and comfortable wherever he/she...
- SPORTS-STYLE DESIGN: sports-style design gives your beloved dog a new look and does not hinder his/her natural movement
#3 – Paws Aboard Doggy Life Jacket
The Paws Aboard Doggy Life Jacket from Fido Pet Products is made from high quality neoprene, and so is fully waterproof. It comes in sizes XS-XL, and features a convenient top handle, so you can easily get hold of your dog if they get into difficulty in the water.
However, the Paws Aboard life vest is quite bulky, and can cause balance issues for smaller dogs. Whilst still inexpensive, there are cheaper options which do not have the issues around bulkiness, such as the Outward Hound Ripstop life jacket, which offers a similar standard of protection, without the possibility of causing a smaller dog to lose their balance in the water.
- Neoprene – fully waterproof
- Can cause balance issues for smaller dogs
Who Is It For?
Owing to the potential issues with smaller dogs, the Paws Aboard is recommended for owners with mid-size dogs who enjoy swimming, or who will be working in the water regularly.
Is it Value For Money?
There are cheaper, equally protective options available, which would also be better for small dogs. However, if you have a medium or large breed dog that is confident in the water, this may be an ideal purchase for extra piece of mind.
- New reflective strips for maximum visibility
- Bright designer colors and unique designs
- Handle on top for quick and easy grabbing
#2 – Swimways Sea Squirts Life Vest
Ever wanted to own a pet shark? With the Swimways Sea Squirts Life Vest, you can – well, almost! Designed for smaller dogs (these come in sizes Small and Medium only), the Sea Squirt features a cute dorsal fin design, so your pampered pooch can play at being a fearsome predator, and you and your family and friends can get some adorable photos, and plenty of “Awwww!” moments!
The Sea Squirt features a D-ring leash attachment, so you can easily switch between water and land-based activities with your dog, or tether them on a boat or at the water’s edge if you need to keep them out of trouble. The Sea Squirt life vest is also a comfortable yet heavy-duty design, offering full protection without getting in your dog’s way. If you have a long-haired breed, do watch their fur in the velcro fastenings, as it can easily get caught, which is uncomfortable for the dog, and, of course, results in the velcro wearing out more quickly.
This is a fun life vest if you have a little dog, and a large pool!
- Fun design
- Easy-use velcro fastenings
- Leash ring
- Only suitable for small dogs
- Not great for long-haired breeds
Who Is It For?
This life jacket is more about fun than function, but would make an ideal purchase for someone with a small dog who was a confident swimmer, to liven up those summer evenings out by the pool.
Is it Value For Money?
Although not expensive by any means, it is a little on the pricey side for something that’s more about novelty value than practicality. If you’re looking for functionality, this isn’t the life jacket for you, or your dog.
- Wearing a life jacket has never been so fun!
- US Coast Guard approved Type III Personal Flotation Device for children, with a flexible blue shark fin on the back
- 2 adjustable waist belts and an adjustable strap between legs ensures a custom fit
#1 – Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat
Finally, the Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat comes in sizes from XXS-XL, and is crafted in abrasion-resistant ripstop fabric. The grab-handle is optimally positioned to allow you to quickly and safely get hold of your dog if she ends up in difficulty, or for a service dog’s handler to be pulled from the water by their dog in the event of an emergency. There is an adjustable neck panel to keep your dog’s head clear of the water.
This is a higher-priced life jacket, although still under $100, and is definitely more for the serious watersports enthusiast who wants their dog to enjoy the fun, as well as those who are active, but require the assistance of a service dog. The grab handle is more than strong enough for a handler to cling to while their service dog pulls them from the water, if need be. The sizing chart for this life vest is also far more detailed than most others, allowing you to choose the optimal fit for your dog’s comfort and safety.
However, it can be difficult to get a jacket to fit large, barrel-chested, narrow-hipped breeds such as Pit Bulls. If you have a Pit, your best bit may be to get a custom-tailored life vest for them.
- Handle can support a human being pulled by their dog – ideal for those who require the assistance of a service dog.
- Adjustable neck support
- Detailed sizing chart
- Difficult to fit on unusually-shaped breeds
Who Is It For?
At the price, this life jacket is definitely intended for the serious water enthusiast. It is also ideal for those wishing to remain active who need a service dog to assist them in their activities. Definitely intended for more than just vacations.
Is It Value For Money?
Definitely, if you are an active service dog handler, or are regularly out on the water with your dog. This would also be an investment for those with water-focused working dogs.
- BUILT TO LAST: The K-9 Float Coat is constructed from time-proven, abrasion-resistant materials to instill confidence that the jacket will...
- STRATEGICALLY-PLACED CLOSED-CELL FOAM PANELS: Strategically-placed closed cell foam panels enable your dog to maintain their natural...
- STRONG, LOW-PROFILE HANDLE: The K-9 Float Coat features a strong, low-profile handle that is optimally positioned on the top of the life...
The Final Decision
There are two clear winners here: If you are a professional with a water-based working dog, or an active service dog handler, then the Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat can’t be beaten for performance. At under $100, it may also be a good choice for those who don’t mind spending more to ensure the very best for their pet.
If your needs are more general, and your budget more limited, however, the Outward Hound is an excellent basic-purpose life jacket for occasional boating vacations, or for having on your pooch when he’s around the pool or riverbank.
And Remember …
- Always ensure the life vest you buy for your dog is a good fit – snug yet comfortable
- Even if you think your dog is a strong swimmer, even if they love water – buy them a life vest. Just in case.
Last update on 2018-03-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API