Whether it is to go swimming, kayaking, water skiing, or sailing off into the deep blue ocean with your dog, your furry friend will need a life vest.
Because not all dogs can swim, and they could potentially fall overboard while out on a boat!
Even if your canine is a pro swimmer, they will get worn out trying to paddle back to you against the fast-flowing water.
Here are the 8 top-rated dog life jackets that can help your pup stay afloat and keep their head above the water.
List of Best Life Jackets for Dogs
1. Outward Hound Granby Splash Dog Life Jacket
Our choice for doggy life jacket
The Outward Hound Granby Splash Dog Life Jacket is perhaps the most popular option on the market and has all the safety features you would want in a pet flotation vest.
It is made of durable ripstop materials, with thick foam side panels to provide excellent buoyancy and a neck float to keep your dog’s head above the water, ultimately keeping your fido safe. Plus, a neoprene belly band for optimal comfort and adjustable chest and belly straps to achieve a snug fit.
Additionally, it has dual grab handles, making it easier for you to pull large and heavy dogs out of the water. It also has reflective piping to help keep your furkid visible at all times.
2. Vivaglory New Sports Style Ripstop Dog Life Jacket
Best overall life jacket for dogs
The Vivaglory New Sports Style Ripstop Dog Life Jacket is another top-rated life jacket for dogs that you can consider.
Not only does it look good and sporty, but it also won’t hinder your dog’s movement. It is made of 600D oxford cloth with additional buoyant material to help your pup stay afloat. Combined with a thoughtful, strategically positioned neck design to provide more space for your dog and keep them in a natural swimming position.
Additionally, this dog life jacket vest features a rescue handle and a heavy-duty fastening system around the belly and neck to secure your fido. It also has reflective trims to provide added visibility in and out of the water.
3. Vivaglory Ripstop Dog Life Jacket
A dog life vest that offers good value for money
It is durable, made of ripstop cloth, and has extra padding to provide strong buoyancy. With the smallest size priced less than $15 and the largest under $30, the Vivaglory Ripstop Dog Life Jacket offers an excellent value for money.
Built with your dog’s safety in mind, it comes with a grab handle that gives you the ability to pull your fido out of any emergency. It also has adjustable straps at the neck, chest, and belly, with quick-release buckles and heavy-duty velcros for a secure fit. Not to mention, there’s a built-in D-ring that allows you to attach the leash.
This canine flotation device is available in many different colors and has reflective strips to keep your dog visible in and out of the water.
4. Ruffwear Float Coat Dog Life Jacket
Best canine life vest designed for avid swimmers
Is your dog a water sports enthusiast who loves a wide range of water activities such as swimming, rafting, boating, surfing, and kayaking? If so, look no further than this higher-end doggy floatation device Ruffwear Float Coat Dog Life Jacket to keep your furkid comfortable for long hours of wear and ensure that it can stand up to rough use.
It is made of top-notch water-compatible webbing to provide stability in a wet environment. Coupled with strategically placed closed-cell foam panels designed to let your dog swim naturally and keep them in an upright position. Plus, a strong, low-profile handle on the back allows you to pull your dog out of the water.
This life vest for canines also features a telescoping neck closure, meaning you can easily adjust it to fit dogs of all shapes. What’s more, it has reflective trims and an integrated light loop, where you can attach beacon light for enhanced visibility.
5. Outward Hound Dawson Dog Life Jacket
Best pet floatation vest for large dogs
Do you have a large dog? If so, consider the Outward Hound Dawson Dog Life Jacket, which the largest size can fit big dogs who weigh 85-100 pounds, with a girth size between 33-44 inches.
It is made of high-quality, extra-thick neoprene side panels to increase buoyancy and provide thermal insulation, ensuring that your large dog is comfortable swimming in cold weather conditions. Plus, there’s a front float chin panel to keep your fido’s head above the surface.
Also, it features dual rescue handles to allow for easy retrieving of your dog in emergencies and has reflective accents for better visibility.
6. Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket
Best safety vest for small dogs
Want a life jacket for small dogs? Check out the Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket, which the XS and XXS can fit toy breeds with neck sizes of 10-18 inches like Chihuahuas and Yorkies.
And when it comes to picking a life jacket for small dogs, sizing is not the only thing you have to consider. What’s equally important is the materials used as you don’t want it to end up being too bulky for your cute little friend.
This floatation vest is very lightweight, made of quick-dry, breathable neoprene fabrics, and flexible material. It also has an advanced breathable mesh underbelly to prevent heat exhaustion and allow for proper water drainage, plus adjustable straps and ventilated velcro closures to achieve a snug fit.
Additionally, there’s a top rescue handle that gives you the ability to pull them out from the water, and its bright color and reflective strips on both sides make it very easy for you to locate your dog.
7. EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device (DFD)
Most buoyant pet life jacket for dogs
Prefer a doggy life jacket with plenty of buoyant material? Check out the EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device (DFD).
It features up to 50% more flotation material than most life jackets on the market to keep your furry friend afloat and help them to stay in the water a bit longer. Combined with its high-quality, tough Cordura shell and advanced manufacturing techniques to provide your canine with a comfortable and secure fit.
Additionally, it has an ergonomic integrated handle, allowing you to pull your dog out of the water in case of an emergency.
8. Kurgo Surf n’ Turf Life Jacket
A multi-purpose dog floatation vest
The Kurgo Surf n’ Turf Life Jacket is a multi-purpose dog flotation device that serves as a life vest and a three-season coat. Guess what? You can also remove the floating layer to double it as a raincoat!
It features two transverse handles for quick and easy rescue while two metal D-rings for leash attachment. It also has two side adjustment points with quick-release buckles and adjustable chest and belly straps to achieve a customizable fit. Plus, it comes with reflective trim, making it easy for you to spot your dog from farther distances.
What’s more, it includes a hassle-free lifetime warranty!
Why Does Your Dog
Need a Life Jacket?
Dogs aren’t born swimmers. They will need to learn and practice. At that stage, they will need a little assistance from a life jacket to stay afloat. And if your four-legged friend can’t swim at all, then a life vest is a must, especially when out on a boat, as accidents can happen. Boats can tip over, and your dog can fall overboard. Or what if they get excited when seeing ducks and geese and decide to jump off? Without a life jacket, the chances that your dog swims to safety will be lower.
Also, swimming in the ocean, lakes, and rivers can be more dangerous than swimming in a pool. Your canine can get exhausted pretty quickly as they need to paddle harder against powerful, channeled currents to reach their destination. A doggy life jacket can help them stay buoyant and keep their heads above the surface when they get tired, ultimately protecting them from drowning.
How to Choose the Best Life Jacket for Dogs?
Perhaps the most important feature you need to consider is buoyancy. Ideally, you should look for a dog life jacket with more flotation material like the EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device (DFD) to keep your pooch afloat, especially if they are heavy.
2. Rescue Handle
And, of course, you would also want a life jacket with a top rescue handle. That allows you to pull your furry friend out of the water if an unfortunate accident occurs. You will find some vests only come with one handle, while some have two. And those with two rescue handles like the Kurgo Surf n’ Turf Life Jacket and Outward Hound Dawson Dog Life Jacket may be a better option as they will make it a lot easier for you to retrieve your dog.
3. Size and Fit
An improperly sized life jacket may not be able to keep your dog safe. Not to mention, it can also rub against their skin and cause discomfort. So, make sure to measure your fido correctly and pick the right size. Also, you would want a life jacket with adjustable straps to ensure a secure fit.
4. High Visibility
It is a better idea to choose a brightly colored life jacket to keep your dog visible in the water. Vest with reflective strips is a plus as it makes it even easier for you to spot your dog in low light situations.
Safety Tips for Using Dog Life Jackets
Train Your Dog to Love the Life Vest
First, you will have to make your dog comfortable and love the vest. Ideally, you would want to accustom your pup to wearing it before taking part in any water activities. While you can certainly force them to put on the life jacket, training them with positive reinforcement is better, which involves praising and rewarding. That way, they will feel happier in the floating device and enjoy their time on the water instead of trying to wriggle out of it.
Letting your dog jump straight into the water without properly fastening all the straps is not a good idea. Ripples in water can quickly shift the jacket away from where it should be, thereby disrupting your fido’s natural swimming motion and put them at risk of drowning.
Practice in a Pool
It is also a better idea to let your dog wear the floating device and practice swimming in a pool first, especially if they are a novice swimmer. The reason is that swimming in open water can put your dog in a dangerous position if they don’t have enough strength to handle the rougher conditions and waves.
Match the Activity
Some life jackets have more flotation material intended to protect dogs in the deep sea, while some have less buoyant with a more adorable look designed for use in shallow waters only. So, make sure to choose the appropriate safety vest for the water activity your four-legged friend will be participating in.
Don’t Let Your Dog Swim Unsupervised
Though life jackets serve as a life-protecting device, you should still never let your pup swim without supervision, particularly in the ocean, rivers, and lakes, as mother nature is unpredictable.
Dog Life Vests
How to measure my dog for a life jacket?
The most important measurement you will need is your dog’s girth, which is the widest part behind the front legs. If it is in between sizes, pick the next size up. Depending on which brand you buy, some manufacturers will also require neck circumference, length, and weight. Make sure to always refer to their sizing chart.
Does my dog really need a life vest?
Some breeds aren’t good swimmers and don’t do well in water. Also, injured dogs, senior dogs, overweight dogs, and those with a heavy coat and short legs may struggle to swim. Even if your dog can swim, they can get tired and find it hard to stay afloat. So, the answer is yes. Your canine will need a life jacket, especially when sailing into the deep, vast ocean. It helps to keep them safe if they accidentally fall off the boat.
How should a dog life vest fit?
As a good rule of thumb, you should be able to fit two fingers between your canine and the life jacket. That is to prevent it from hindering their movement and swimming position while ensuring it is secure enough to keep them safe.