The best dog life vests are ones that are highly visible and offer a high buoyancy to keep your dog afloat regardless of the conditions. Dog life jackets are must-have items for all adventure dogs and their owners.
Dogs have long been the subject of heartwarming stories, lore, and legends. They’re well-known for being everlastingly faithful to their human owners. They are also like little children wrapped in fur, with loving quirks like always wanting to be with their owners, no matter where they go. This especially holds true when you’re outdoors taking part in water activities.
Whether you’re swimming in a pool, rafting, or boating on a lake or a river, your beloved dog wants to be there! And why shouldn’t he? With some thoughtful precautions on your part, you can have your little shadow with you everywhere you go, wagging his tail the entire way. Just like people, dogs can have days when they can swim very well, and other times, they fall into water unexpectedly and paddle furiously just to try to stay afloat.
Many will argue that life jackets for dogs aren’t just for those who go swimming. Indeed, dogs should always remain visible especially when hiking in unknown areas, woods, and trails.
Dog Life Jackets — The Focus Points
Even the very best dog swimmers should always be wearing a personal flotation device or life jacket when they’re around water. Having them correctly outfitted in a flotation device will help immensely if they’re unexpectedly submerged. Well-fitted life vests can really help dogs that become tired in the water too.
You obviously want a dog life vest that fits like a glove. You also want one that is not only securely fitted onto your dog but also allows ample freedom of movement. Here are the best qualities to look for in dog life vests.
Brightly Colored Vests
We can’t stress how important it is to use a life vest that can easily be seen by boaters, swimmers and by you. If you need to pull your beloved dog out of the water, you have to be able to see them clearly and quickly. Colors like bright red, flame orange, yellow and neon green are all good choices. In addition, reflective materials are also a good idea.
If you need to pull your dog out of the water unexpectedly, you’ll want handles that are placed in the most useful places on the dog’s vest. This ideally means one handle near the shoulders and one near the dog’s legs so you can lift them from the water effectively.
If there is only one handle in the middle, you have to remember that many dogs tend to be top-heavy and their heads may bow towards the water when you try to lift them. You don’t want to submerge your dog’s head when you try lifting them, because that can make them panic.
Straps and Handles of the Right Length
You don’t want any long straps and buckles that are exposed. This will help to prevent accidental snagging the dog’s life vest on limbs, rocks or on other obstacles that could result in you losing your grip on the handle
You want a vest that has flotation material in the right places (if not everywhere.) This includes extra flotation material under the dog’s belly and under their head to keep their head above water .
You want devices made from sturdy materials that are rip resistant, stitched together well, and a device that’s made with flotation components that have a reputation of working well in water. Water-resistance is an obvious requirement.
You want the best personal flotation device or dog life vest you can comfortably afford to keep your beloved pet as safe as possible. More expensive devices can be well worth the extra money invested if they’re known to be effective in saving a dog’s life.
3 Best Dog Lifejackets Reviewed
You’ll know you’ve found a dog life vest that fits well when your dog seems to be comfortable wearing it and there are no noticeable areas where the vest is rubbing. You want to be sure that neither your dog’s back-end or front-end tip when he’s in the water. You want him to stay in a mostly horizontal position. When your dog is able to move freely and doesn’t seem bothered by the vest, you’ll know that you’ve probably found the best fit.
1. Vivaglory Size Adjustable Dog Life Jacket
As the bestselling lifejacket for dogs in many online stores, the Vivaglory Size-Adjustable Dog Lifejacket is a people-pleaser thanks to all of its ingenious features. First and foremost, it is available in five sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL) and seven bright colors. When buying their products, you may get a 24/7 customer service and a 90-day warranty.
Besides its looks, the Vivaglory Dog Lifejacket is also offering a very comfortable extra padding and strong buoyancy for a maximum level of safety. There are multiple nylon straps and quick-release buckles so you can make sure the lifejacket is fitting your dog perfectly. Obviously, you still need to buy the right size, but these buckles and straps allow for the perfect fit, enabling your dog lifejacket to make it bigger or smaller.
There is also a top grab handle allowing the dog owner to control the dog in all situations without any struggle. The loved D-ring will allow you to attach 99.99% of dog leashes out there so you can will your dog at reach at all times.
2. Outward Hound Granby RipStop
Outward Hound is related to Nina Ottosson—both brands are manufacturing wonderful dog equipment and toys. This dog life vest is a great product overall and it has received the highest amount of ratings on the web, and rocks 4.5 stars with over 3,300 feedbacks left by customers on an e-commerce website! It is available in six sizes (XXS to XL) and three bright colors (orange, pink and fun fish.)
Built only using sturdy heavy-duty materials, this life jacket for dogs is also keeping a slim look; it definitely won’t look overly bulky for your pooch! Here are the weight and girth measurements to help you choose the right size at purchase:
- XXS — 11-14″ Girth, up to 11lbs
- XS — 15-19″, 11-18lbs
- S — 19-24″, 15-25lbs
- M — 22-29″, 20-50lbs
- L — 26-35″, 40-70lbs
- XL — 31-42″, 70-90lbs
Just like the Vivaglory Dog Lifejacket, the Outward Hound Granby Splash has a series of buckles and strap to ensure a perfect fit as well as two top handles for a safe and convenient grabbing, if need be. There is an added front floating device to make sure your dog’s head stays above water at all times—it’s a great addition!
3. EzyDog Dog Flotation Device
Coming in five sizes and three colors, this lifejacket for dogs is designed and manufactured by EzyDog, a reputable dog accessories brand famous for their sturdy harnesses. It is the self-proclaimed best high-performance floating device for dogs, and it’s somewhat true, but it’s also double the price of other dog lifejackets. This is why it’s not the #1, however, if you are swimming with your dog often, it’s the best purchase you can make.
The EzyDog dog life vest flotation device uses superior durable construction and features up to 50% more flotation material than most other pet life jackets.
Just like the other floating dog life vests, the EzyDog one offers a convenient top handle to hold and direct your dog inside and outside of the water. It’s overall a better product than the competition but it wouldn’t justify the two-fold price tag for occasional users.
Why Invest in a Quality Dog Life Vest
Many people and most dogs absolutely love being in and around the water in nice weather. Water is just one of those sparkling, shimmering and irresistible attractions that has a magnetic power. Whether you spend your day walking on a dock, fishing, boating, swimming, kayaking or beachcombing, you want to be sure that when your dog sees that water and cannot resist jumping in, they will stay safe.
Here are some of the best reasons to motivate you to invest in an exceptional quality dog life vest or flotation device:
Animals are Unpredictable
Even when you’re pretty sure that you know all of your dog’s quirks, tendencies and habits, there can be times when they will just do something completely unexpected and out of the ordinary. This includes jumping in water even if you think they would never do that without your approval.
Nature is Unpredictable
Even if the water looks as smooth as a piece of glass, there can be undercurrents in that body of water that are not visible to the eye. Currents can pull your dog under the surface if the dog is not protected by wearing a flotation device. You never want to find yourself in the position of thinking that your dog will be safe in the water, just to find out later that they really weren’t.
You May Overestimate Their Swimming Ability
Even if your dog has shown exceptional swimming ability in the past, there are factors that can make them less able to handle swimming. They may not be feeling well or perhaps tired that day. They may have pain in a part of their body that keeps them from effectively swimming. You’ll never be completely sure of your dog’s ability to handle themselves in water, and you’re always better off being safe than risking injury or worse.
If your dog was to fall out of a boat, he could hit his head or be hit and injured by a part of the boat, a branch, a surfboard, paddle, water ski or another obstacle in the water. This could markedly affect his ability to swim. You’ll be glad you’ve protected him with a high-quality flotation device or a durable dog life jacket.
Get the Size Right
The old adage about measuring twice is very true, especially when it comes to buying the best dog lifejacket. You can use a tape measure to get your dog’s specific measurements. If that’s not feasible, you can also use pieces of string and hold them up to a tape measure later.
You’ll want the vest to fit well, but also to be comfortable enough so the dog can still walk around easily while wearing it. Freedom of movement is essential to allow your dog to use their paws to paddle while they’re in the water. It’s always best not to go by sizes printed on a package, but to go by your dog’s exact measurements for the very best fit.
Here are the measurements you’ll need:
- Length Measurement – The dog’s length is measured at the beginning at their shoulder blades and stretching to the base of their tail for the most accuracy. You simply want the length of their torso
- Chest Measurement – This measurement is taken up close to the dog’s front paws and going around their body in a circle at the widest part of their chest
- Neck Measurement – To get this measurement, put the tape measure or string where you would normally place a collar and measure in a circular pattern
- Girth Measurement – For accuracy in this measurement, be sure to measure the narrowest part of the dog’s waist. This is a point that usually falls close to the center of the length measurement
You might find that when you’re shopping for a life vest or flotation device for your dog. Some of them are specially designed for dogs with a more boxy physique, while others are made for dogs with big chests. Still, others are created for dogs with narrow hips. The type you ultimately decide to buy will often vary by your dog’s breed and body shape.