Best Life Jacket For Dogs

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If you are planning to bring your dog together on a paddling adventure, you definitely need to get a life jacket or personal floatation device (PFD) for your dog too.

Yes…some may argue that dog’s PFD is not required by law or that their furry buddy is a fantastic swimmer.

But even the best human swimmer drowns too.

That’s why we cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a good life jacket, even for your dog. However, different dogs have different body shapes, sizes and swimming styles.

So, looking for the best life jacket for your dog can be a frustrating experience. But fret not, we made this guide to specially ease that journey for you. 

From this guide, we will share how to select the best life jacket. Followed up by the 5 best life jackets for dogs available on Amazon for your consideration. Lastly, how to train your dogs to wear a life jacket.  

5 Best Life Jacket For Dogs

HOW TO SELECT THE BEST LIFE JACKET FOR DOGS

 

There are more than 100 breeds of dogs in the world. Hence, it is near impossible to find a 1 size fits all solution for dog life jackets. You need to take the following factors into consideration to select the best jacket for your dog. 

Size of the life jacket

If you think shopping for the right size of clothes for people is tricky, it’s trickier when shopping for your 4 legged buddy. Been there, done that. 

An ideal dog life jacket should comfortably fit your furry buddy’s body without restricting its movement too much. Your buddy should be able to walk, run and jump like it normally would without the jacket on.

But at the same time, you do not want the life jacket to slip out of your dog during emergencies. 

A proper manufacturer of dog life jackets will always have a comprehensive measuring instructions. So, pay close attention to this to accurately measure up your dog’s size. Normally, the most important part is the girth or circumference measurement for the chest and neck. Ensure you measure the widest parts. 

Your Dog’s weight

It is very important to ensure the life jacket can support your furry buddy’s weight in the water. 

So, always take note of your dog’s weight. Then ensure the jacket you are going to buy has sufficient buoyancy to support your buddy’s weight. Every life jacket has a weight range that it can support.

Handles or D-rings

Good life jackets or vests usually come equipped with a D-ring to which you can attach a leash or tether. It is a great way to keep your dog safe during the walks to the lake. Plus, it works on the water too. 

You will definitely appreciate this if your buddy gets too excited and stop listening once it gets on the water. Unless you are training for the Olympics, say no more to frantically swimming towards your dog each time it swims too far away from you.   

Just ensure the leash is properly hooked up. The rope should not get caught around your buddy’s legs or neck. 

 

All in all, try to get a life jacket with at least handles or D-rings on. 

Visibility features

If there are no reflective strips on the life jacket, ensure it has at least bright and highly visible colors. These will be handy for your to keep an eye on your furry buddy even in low light conditions.  

Floatation panels

Look out for floatation panels or features around the neck area.

This is to keep your dog’s head well above the water at all times. Especially important if your dog has a short snout. It prevents them from accidentally breathing in water.

This jacket is made from foam panels sewn inside neoprene fabric for buoyancy and thermal insulation for chilly waters. There are 2 adjustable bands with buckle straps around the belly and another 1 around the chest. So that you can adjust accordingly to your dog’s size.

Additionally, the band around the chest comes with a neck or chin float as an extra support. This helpful feature ensures your furry buddy’s head floats above the water at all times. 

However, there is one thing to note about this jacket design. All 3 of the bands with buckle straps do get in contact with your dog’s skin. The straps could irritate the skin and may even cause blisters after a long day rubbing against the skin. Especially if your buddy has a thin fur. 

Last but not least, there is a pair of grab handles sewn at the top of the jacket. So, it will be easy for you to lift your buddy up like a hand-carry bag whenever needed. 

This Dawson Swim Dog jacket comes in a variety of sizes. Ranging from XS to XL, this jacket can fit any dog between 11 inches to 44 inches in girth. 

PROS

CONS

  • Made of neoprene which provides insulation 
  • Has 2 grab handles
  • Has a neck float for security

 

  1. The straps rubbing the skin may cause irritation
  2. No D-rings

 

With more than 10 different bright colors available and reflective trims, the Vivaglory Ripstop Dog Life Vest is designed to be highly visible, even at night. You won’t lose sight of your furry buddy with this jacket for sure. 

This New Sports Style Ripstop from Vivaglory has 2 adjustable bands with buckle straps around the belly and another 1 around the chest. You can easily adjust it to fit a pup as small as a terrier to a hound as large as a German Shepard.  

The vest has a D-ring on top for you to hook on your leash. Right next to the D-ring is the grab handle. It will be handy if you need to lift up your furry buddy or pull it out of the water. 

One aspect that really caught our attention is that this jacket boasts superior buoyancy. That is because it’s made with 50% more floatation material than many other life jackets in the market. Plus, it is not bulky despite the extra paddings. 

That feature is probably intentional to compensate for the lack of floatation panels around the neck area. Many other happy buyers concur with this. They did find it sufficient to keep their buddies’ head above the water at all times.  

Moreover, this vest has a smart neck design that does not hinder your furry buddy’s natural movements. It has more space on the shoulder area. Hence, it offers a higher degree of comfort.   

As for the sizes, Vivaglory’s dog life jacket comes in 5 different sizes. It fits any dog between 17 inches to 38 inches in girth. 

PROS

CONS

  • Many choices of bright colors
  • Extra paddings for superior buoyancy 
  • Smart design for shoulder comfort

 

  • No neck floatation panels

Another great piece from Vivaglory. This Ripstop Dog Life Vest is a slightly older version compared to the New Sports Style. But it is still an amazing choice because both have many great features in common. 

In terms of similarity, this vest comes in 10 different bright colors and reflective trims. It is also constructed with extra padding for superior buoyancy to compensate for the lack of neck floatation panels. For convenience, there is a D-ring and a grab handle at the top of the vest. 

Now, you are probably curious on what is the difference between this Ripstop Dog Life Vest from the New Sports Style. 

Firstly, it has 6 sizes. There is an additional XXS option, specially made for toy breed dogs. With extra the size, this vest can fit any dog between 11 inches to 38 inches. 

Secondly, it does not have a smart neck design like the New Sports Style version. Your furry buddy may feel a little restricted around the shoulders. 

PROS

CONS

  • Many choices of bright colors
  • More choices of sizes for smaller dogs
  • Extra paddings for superior buoyancy

 

  • No neck floatation panels

This Float Coat from Ruffwear is the ultimate life jacket for your furry buddy. It is a premium and feature-rich jacket, thoughtfully designed to be comfortable, practical and easy to use. 

This life jacket features a sturdy grab handle with a D-ring under it. You can conveniently lift your dog or pull it out of the water with ease. The soft, buoyant PVC-free foam provides excellent buoyancy and a comfortable fit for both in and out of the water. 

In terms of visibility, there are 3 choices of bright colors. Plus, reflective trim increases your dog’s visibility in low light conditions. 

The design of Ruffwear’s Float Coat truly shows the amount of effort they put into making the best dog gears. The low profile handle gives you a firm lift. Plus, it is strategically positioned to maintain an ideal centre of gravity. So that you can lift your dog without putting it into an awkward hanging position. 

The telescoping neck closure is a brilliant design that fits a range of dog sizes. Moreover, it is permanently attached and secure. No need to buckle and unbuckle each time your buddy put on the life jacket. 

There are no additional floatation panels on the neck. But Ruffwear has strategically placed foam panels on the vest to support a natural swimming position for dogs. So much so that even a short snout dog can swim comfortably without breathing in water by accident. 

As for the sizes, Ruffwear’s Float Coat comes in 6 different sizes from XXS to XL. It fits any dog between 13 inches to 42 inches in girth. 

PROS

CONS

  • Strategically placed low profile grab handle
  • Super convenient telescoping neck closure 
  • Well placed foam panels for superior buoyancy

 

  • Only available in 3 colors

This dog life jacket from Ezydog is made with performance and safety in mind. It comes with a grab handle and a D-ring at the top of the jacket. The jacket design has 2 adjustable straps with buckles around the belly and 1 more around the chest.

Ezydog boasts that they used more than 50% ultra-buoyant foam to build this life jacket. Moreover, those foams are strategically placed to keep your dog in a natural, easy swimming position at all times. Hence, there are no additional floatation panels for the neck. 

However, we felt that this jacket lacks in comfort for dogs because the belly straps are rubbing against the dog’s skin. Ezydog mitigated this issue by using neoprene fabric as straps instead. We are in the opinion that it is best to have the vest cover the belly as well. 

 

As for the sizes, Ezydog Doggy Floatation Device comes in 5 different sizes from XS to XL. It fits any dog between 19 inches to 48 inches in girth. 

PROS

CONS

  • Extra paddings for superior buoyancy 
  • Well placed foam panels for superior buoyancy
  • Great option for big sized dogs

 

  • Only available in 2 colors
  • The straps rubbing the skin may cause irritation

 

How To Train Your Dog To Wear A Life Jacket

So your dog hates wearing anything you put on? 

That does happen quite often. The good news is, it is very possible to train your dog. The bad news is, there is no easy or instant way to achieve that. 

So, here’s how to do it…

You have to start long before your water trip. That’s why there is no instant way. You begin by slowly introducing the life jacket to your dog. Place the jacket at where it sleeps or sit often.

The idea is to let it get accustomed to the smell and the jacket itself. Remember to use treats to reward or incentivise your buddy along the way. It will speed up the warming up phase. 

Once your furry buddy got used to the jacket, slowly put it on. Just put it on loosely without buckling up will do. Let your buddy wear it for a few minutes before taking off.

Rinse and repeat over several days. Do not forget the treats! A little positive reinforcement goes a long way. 

Over time, if there’s lesser to no resistance, buckle up and increase the time wearing the jacket. Repeat until your dog happily wears the jacket whole day long. And most importantly, does not try to bite it off.  

By then, you are finally ready to hit the waters with your furry buddy.

Frequently Asked Questions (Faq)

Q: Should my dog wear a life jacket?

A: It is not required by law for a dog to wear a life jacket. But it is highly advisable to do so. Like humans, dogs do get exhausted from swimming and they can drown too.

Q: How do I maintain my dog’s life jacket?

A: Always refer to the manufacturer’s product care guide for this because different fabric or material has different requirements. Generally, you’d want to hand wash away all debris and dirt with fresh water (not sea water). Then hang it up to dry either in a sunny or shady place.

Q: What color of life vest is the best?

A: The best color is the most visible color. Choose a bright color that stands out. You want to keep an eye on your dog at all time and bright colors help to do so.

Q: Does a dog life jacket work?

A: Yes. It wraps your dog with floatation panels and provides better buoyancy. Your dog can even float safely on the water when it is exhausted.

OUR VERDICT

Our personal favourite is definitely the Float Coat from Ruffwear. No doubt it is a bit pricey but every dollar is very well worth it for this life jacket. The thoughtful design makes this life jacket superbly practical compared to others.  

However, if this is your first attempt at introducing watersports to your dog. And you are concerned that your dog may not like it at all, then the Vivaglory New Sports Style Ripstop Dog Life Jacket would be a fantastic option. 

CLOSING THOUGHTS

You and your dog’s safety should always be the number 1 priority.

So never skimp on PFDs.

Treasure your furry buddy, and get the best life jacket for it. After all, it’s going to keep your company during your water adventures and you do not want any tragedy to happen.  

If you are looking to kayak with your furry buddy, check out our guide on the top 5 kayaks for dogs

Jules and Ken

Jules and Ken

We are outdoor lovers, travellers, and writers all rolled into one. You have seen our posts here reviewing lots of different types of outdoor gear, camping equipment, RV equipment, kayaking, to cycling. Our reviews are guided by our years of experience being outdoors. We are happy to share our knowledge with you to make a better choice when you are outdoors.

We hope you enjoyed this article and if you have questions about Best Life Jacket For Dogs or want to leave your own personal comments, feel free to leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!

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