7 Best Life Jackets for Dogs

7 Best Life Jackets for Dogs

Contrary to what many of us may believe, not all dogs are natural swimmers. Sure, many dog breeds love to take a dip, but there are a number that are not confident in the water at all.

As responsible owners, its our duty to keep our dogs safety front of mind and as such, a life jacket / PFD, or in this case a DFD (Dog Flotation Device) is always recommended when you’re out on the water.

10 Best Life Jackets for Dogs

In this brief article we look at some of the key considerations that you should factor in when buying a life jacket for your dog, as well as some tips and recommendations on affordable quality products.


Are They Even Necessary?

In a word – yes. Even if your dog(s) has their water wings and is a good swimmer, just as you would with your kids or indeed yourself, it is always better to play it safe and err on the side of caution. Paddling in the shallows or by the beach is one thing, but the further you venture out then the more important buoyancy vests become.

Swimming can be pretty exhausting and fatiguing for dogs particularly in windy or choppy waters or when they may be paddling against the current. A properly fitted life jacket will provide buoyancy; assist with keeping the dogs head above the water; make your dog more visible; help to reduce stress as well as making it easier to pull them back on board your vessel or paddle board.

Size Matters

Having an appropriately fitted life jacket is key for both your dogs safety as well as taking advantage of its functionality.

All manufacturers will have their own size guides with jackets catering for dogs as little as 4 lbs to well in excess of 100 lbs.

Your dogs, height, weight, shape, overall measurements and in some instances breed, all play a part in determining what size life jacket best suits. Certain breeds of dogs (think heavy thick bulky coat vs lean low body fat dogs), may require more buoyancy or freedom to stretch out. Too big and the jacket might slip off. Too small and the dogs range of movement will be restricted or even lack sufficient buoyancy.

Dog Life Jacket Size Guide

When measuring up your dog, you should initially focus on its girth. Using a cloth measuring tape, take the measurement around the dogs chest area or rib cage just behind its front legs. Then measure the dogs length from just behind its neck, along the spine down to a little before the base of its tail. Depending on the type and model of vest you are considering, you may also need to measure the circumference of the dogs neck as well.

Take the corresponding measurements and match them up with your chosen life jackets size and weight chart as provided by the manufacturer. Yes, you will also need to weigh your dog. If you are unsure or between sizes, then go for the larger size as you will be able to use the adjustable straps to create a secure fit.

Outdoor Master Shark Electric SUP Pump

Key Dog Life Jacket Features

Many of the quality life jackets will have similar features, but to make the most informed decision, give consideration to the following:

Close Up of Dog on iSUP

✔️ Quality – there is an element of you get what you pay for, but give consideration to the durability of the material; whether it is double stitched; the thickness of the straps and fastening clips; single or double layered Velcro flaps as well as any loose items or straps that your dog may want to chew on.

✔️ Grab Handles – these are one of the more important safety features as they will enable you to quickly and effectively pull your dog out of the water.

Grab Handles are also useful for controlling or holding your dog in a given position or as an aid when they are still learning how to swim. Smaller vests will likely have a single handle while larger ones should have dual handles.

✔️ Visibility – there are a whole range of colours out there but you should go for something bright and if possible with high-vis accents or reflective panels for added visibility.

✔️ D-rings – not essential but handy for attaching your dogs leash whilst on land. You shouldn’t fasten the leash to your boat or paddle board though as this can restrict their movement and be problematic in the event of an emergency. That’s what the lift jacket is for.

✔️ Quick Release Straps – similar to what you would expect to find on your ankle leash or other water sports accessory, an ability to unclick the buckles or release the Velcro straps quickly is always recommended just in case of an emergency.

✔️ Adjustable Straps – it’s unlikely that any of the quality life jackets will not have more than one adjustable strap, but having an ability to tighten or loosen the chest and shoulder straps as needed is of course important.

Supervision

You wouldn’t leave your young children out in the water unattended or unsupervised, nor should you leave your dog.

While a quality well fitted life jacket will definitely give you piece of mind and considerably reduce the chances of your dog coming to harm, you can never be too cautious. Be aware of the weather and water conditions as well as any potential underwater obstacles or water traffic and surrounding watercraft. Can your dog readily get out of the water unassisted i.e. flat sandy area or pool steps, or do you need to be ready and waiting as and when needed?

They are a member of the family and you’re in effect their Life Guard. Safety first.

<< Learn more about Paddle Boarding with your Dog including important safety tips >>

Recommendations

▪️High-vis colour (orange only)
▪️Adjustable shoulder and torso straps
▪️Reflective accents for greater visibility
▪️Front neck float for enhanced head support

▪️Available in sizes XS through XL
▪️Constructed with ripstop material
▪️Thermal insulation
▪️Dual rescue grab handles

Over the past 15 years, Outward Hound have established themselves as one of the leading providers of quality pet supplies and products. Available in multiple sizes, the Granby is a consumer favourite and one of the best-selling dog life jackets on Amazon. Designed with novice swimmers in mind and an ability to cater to dogs up to 100 lbs in weight, the adjustable vest contains neoprene side panels to aid buoyancy; rescue grab handles as well as thermal insulation for colder weather conditions.


▪️Adjustable torso and collar straps
▪️Neoprene fabric for enhanced buoyancy
▪️Available in multiple bright colour schemes
▪️Single top rescue grab handle

▪️Available in sizes XXS through XL
▪️Ventilated Velcro closures
▪️D-ring to secure leash
▪️Reflective accents for greater visibility

Made from a quick dry and fade resistant neoprene material and available in multiple sizes, the Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket is another highly durable customer favourite. Better suited to more confident swimmers, the fully adjustable vest has added features including a breathable mesh belly for greater comfort; quick release straps; heavy-duty grab handle; oversized Velcro collar area all wrapped in a flexible sporty design for enhanced comfort and support.


▪️3 adjustable points for better fit
▪️Available in red only
▪️Reflective piping for greater visibility
▪️Machine washable

▪️Open chest design for enhanced movement
▪️Available in sizes XS through XL
▪️2 sturdy grab / carry handles
▪️Multi-use weather proof material

One of the more interesting and multifunctional dog jackets on the market, the Kurgo Surf n’ Turf not only acts as a lift vest, but it’s also made from a weather resistant material so can double as a raincoat or simple dog jacket for greater warmth. While available in multiple sizes, it is sufficiently adjustable so that the medium size can be adjusted to suit different sized dogs. With all of the core life jacket features you would expect, the Kurgo Surf n’ Turf is definitely an interesting option.


▪️Three easy-clip covered buckles
▪️Made with thick closed-cell foam panels
▪️Available in three bright colours
▪️Enlarged telescoping collar support

▪️Single grab carry handle
▪️Available in sizes XXS through XL
▪️Reflective trim for increased visibility
▪️Manufacturers defects guarantee

RUFFWEAR Life Jackets are made to last and are suitable for rafting, kayaking, boating, surfing, paddle boarding and swimming. While simplistic in design, the subtle features include secure closed-cell foam paneling for enhanced buoyancy; adjustable chest and collar straps with buckles that tuck away for a cleaner fit; a single heavy duty lift handle as well as a leash D-ring and integrated light loop to secure the separately sold beacon or other accessory.


▪️Made with upgraded ripstop 600D cloth
▪️Hidden D-ring for dog leash
▪️10 different colour choices
▪️Reflective accents for better visibility

▪️Breathable mesh belly area
▪️Available in sizes XS through XL
▪️Single durable top grab handle
▪️Adjustable torso and collar straps

Another Amazon Best Seller and at a very affordable price point. The VIVAGLORY Sports Dog Life Jacket has a uniquely positioned neck design for a broader range of movement to keep your dog in a natural swimming position. The jacket has a more compact torso providing additional support around the dogs chest area while not hindering movement, plus extra thick sticky bands to help prevent hair from catching in the straps. With a huge colour selection, this is a pretty smart looking safety vest.


▪️Durable 600D Oxford fabric construction
▪️Available in red & yellow only
▪️Stainless steel D-ring for leash
▪️Single top nylon grab / carry handle

▪️Reflective trim for better visibility
▪️Available in sizes XS through 2XL
▪️Fully adjustable straps
▪️Quick release buckles

While the Kuoser Dog Life Jacket has received mixed customer reviews, its at a very affordable price point so for the money, it still represents great value. One review in fact gave the vest the thumbs up and that customer had a 120 lbs bulldog which is a pretty strong testimonial. Suitable to all boating and boarding activities, the vest features thickened EPE foam flotation panels as well as double Velcro neck cuffs to help stop the dogs hair from catching.


▪️Heavy-duty polyester construction
▪️D-buckle leash anchor point
▪️Adjustable neoprene straps for better fit
▪️Ergonomic integrated grab carry handle

▪️High visibility reflective piping
▪️Available in sizes XS through XL
▪️Contoured adjustable neck design
▪️Available in red and yellow only

EzyDog are an established pet supplies manufacturer with an extensive range of dog products and accessories. Their award-winning DFD life preservers boast up to 50% more ultra-buoyant material, strategically placed to keep your dog in a natural, easy swimming position at all times. The oversized buckles are nicely integrated for a more secure fit while the lowered contoured neck design enables your dog to have a full range of movement for unrestricted paddling and comfort.


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<< Short on cash? Check out some of the Best Cheap Paddle Boards on the market >>

There are of course many other quality products out there although in our view, the above recommendations check the majority of the boxes when it comes to value, durability, features as well as customer reviews and feedback.

Do you currently use a DFD or life jacket for your pet? Start a conversation below and share your thoughts and we will get back to you.

Until then, stay safe and get wet.

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