best dog life vest (1)

Many dogs love swimming, whether they are romping in a lake or taking a dip in the ocean. No matter what type of body of water your pup prefers, it’s crucial to always keep them safe. A dog life vest can benefit your dog in many ways, and they can even keep your dog secure in case of an accident.


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If you have plans to partake in water activities with your pup anytime soon, you will need a high-quality dog life vest. We’ve creating a helpful guide for you to pick the very best doggy life jacket for your canine companion. We cover some important features to consider, and share our seven favorite dog life vests with you.

5 Benefits of Using a Dog Life Vest

Your dog’s safety is priority, especially around a body of water. No matter how intelligent, trained and athletic your dog is, using a life vest will ensure that your dog stays safe even in the case of a water-related accident. Below are some other benefits of using a doggy life jacket:

  1. Teach your dog to swim: For puppies or adult dogs who are learning to swim, using a life jacket helps ensure they will be safe during the process. It also gives your pup a sense of security when learning the ropes. Although dogs have a natural swimming instinct, it’s important to introduce your dog to the water safely.
  2. Great for senior or special needs dogs: You may have a senior dog or pup with special needs who will appreciate assistance in the water. No matter what the situation is, your dog deserves to splash around with their human and other canine counterparts. A life vest allows your dog to always be in on the action.
  3. Help avoid accidents: Accidents happen. There may be a boat accident. Your paddle board may flip over. A storm may brew out of nowhere. Keeping your dog protected with a life vest will give you piece of mind knowing that your canine companion is safe and secure.
  4. Give your dog a break: Even the best swimmers need a break from the excitement. Your dog will eventually get tired if they want to spend all of their time in the water. A dog life vest reduces the rate at which your dog will get tired out, as they have a flotation device to help them enjoy and spend more time in the water.
  5. Overall safety: Dog life vests generally come in bright colors with reflective trim of sorts, so you will easily be able to spot your dog in the water. D-ring attachments and lifting handles are typical safety features as well.

How to Properly Measure Your Dog for a Life Vest

An effective life vest is a properly fitting one. Your dog’s life jacket should fit snugly on their body without restricting movement. Life vest sizes will differ from brand to brand, so it’s best to measure your dog and choose a size based on those measurements.

The measurements you’ll need from your dog are their body length, girth and neck. When you are considering a life vest, it should have a sizing guide to reference. It’s best to pick out a size based on your dog’s measurements in relation to the sizing chart. You may also need to consider your dog’s weight. Most of the life vests on our list of recommendations fit dogs up to 100lbs. If you have a giant breed dog, you may need a more custom life vest.

5 Components to Look for in a Dog Life Vest

There are several important features to look into when selecting a good life vest for your dog. We list some of these components below:

  1. Sizing: It’s absolutely imperative that you equip your dog with a properly fitting life vest. A loose vest can slip off or your dog may try to wriggle free of it. Take your pup’s measurements and choose the best size based the sizing chart associated with the life jacket you’re interested in.
  2. Safety features: If you can buy a dog life vest with some additional safety features, we highly recommend it! These can include lift handles, reflective trim, an extra neck flotation device and a bright colored fabric.
  3. Effectiveness: Just because a life vest is deemed to be appropriate for your dog’s safety, a cheaply made life jacket may not be effective. Make sure the life jacket you’re considering is truly buoyant and made of high-quality materials. Ultimately you want buoyant foam and material alongside your dog’s torso and at the neck piece.
  4. Buckles: Most good dog life vests come equipped with three adjustable buckles. It’s important that the buckles are quick-release but also stay secure to avoid the life vest falling off.
  5. Cleaning and maintenance: Some dog life jackets are machine washable! Did you spend a sandy or muddy day at the lake or beach? Simply through the jacket into the washing machine to do the cleaning for you. Other life vests may require a hand wash instead.

Overall Best Dog Life Vest

Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat for Dogs

Key Benefits:

  • Adjustable and available in 6 sizes
  • Reflective trim for visibility
  • Lifting handle
  • Machine washable

Ruffwear is one of the most trusted outdoor pet product brands, and that’s one of the reasons we chose their K-9 Float Coat as our top dog life vest. This high-quality life jacket is built with closed-cell foam panels which support your dog swimming comfortably and upright. If for some reason your pup flips over in the water, the life jacket will bring your dog into a natural swimming position. It has a lifting handle on the back to help you lift your pup back into your boat or kayak after a swimming session.

The Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat is available in six sizes and three bright colors. Each boasts reflective trim for visibility in low light. It also has an attachment for a safety LED light. This dog life vest is highly adjustable at the chest and neck for a custom-like fit.  Whether your dog loves to swim in the lake, relax on your paddle board or catch some sun on the boat, this Ruffwear dog life jacket is our favorite choice for all water related activities.

Pros:

  • Strategically placed foam panels keep your dog swimming in a natural, upright position
  • Reflective trim for additional safety
  • Lifting handle on the back of the life vest
  • Machine washable
  • Available in 6 different sizes

Cons:

  • This dog life vest is a bit pricey, but you can’t put a price tag on your dog’s safety!

EzyDog Doggy Floatation Device Life Jacket

Key Benefits:

  • 50% more buoyancy than standard life vests
  • Top lifting handle
  • Made from heavy duty polyester
  • Available in five sizes and two colors

Runner-Up Best Dog Life Vest – The EzyDog life vest takes our runner-up spot, as it boats a trusted design made from quality materials. This high-performance life jacket for dogs offers 50% more buoyancy than other traditional life vests. It’s built with a top lifting handle for assistance. The foam in this dog life vest will ensure that your dog always stays in a swimming position, rather than accidentally rolling over or flipping upside down.

The EzyDog doggy life jacket is made with heavy-duty polyester with adjustable neoprene straps. This vest adjusts at the belly and neck for ultimate comfort. A D-ring attachment allows you to keep your dog safe on a leash or long line. This dog life vest comes in five different sizes, fitting dogs over 90lbs. It’s also available in two high-visibility colors so you can always keep a close watch on you pup while they enjoy the water.

Pros:

  • Made with quality materials for premium durability
  • Lifting handle on the top of the life jacket
  • Design keeps your dog swimming upright
  • More buoyant than standard life vests
  • Available in several sizes and two colors

Cons:

  • You must hand wash this dog life vest to clean it.

Outward Hound Granby RipStop Dog Life Jacket

Key Benefits:

  • Dual lifting handles
  • Reflective trim for safety
  • Front float keeps your dog’s head above water
  • Available in five sizes for dogs up to 100lbs

Best Budget-Friendly Dog Life Vest – This dog life vest from Outward Hound is budget-friendly, but it will keep your pup safe no matter what type of water sports they enjoy. The life jacket is adjustable at three points, with two buckles at the chest and belly and one at the neck. The body of the life vest has reflective trim so you can keep an eye on your dog in low visibility conditions.

We like that this doggy life vest has two lifting handles on the back for additional safety. It’s also designed with a front float so your dog’s head is always above water. The affordable Outward Hound life vest comes in bright orange and it’s available in five sizes. Outward Hound makes fantastic, reliable products for outdoorsy pets, and we’re sure that this life vest will be no exception.

Pros:

  • Suitable for dogs up to 100lbs
  • Two lifting handles
  • Reflective safety trim
  • Front floating device keeps your dog’s head above water
  • Cost-effective

Cons:

  • This dog life vest is only available in bright orange.

4 More Top Dog Life Vests

Frisco Dog Life Jacket

This life vest from Frisco is another affordable yet quality option. The bright orange vest comes equipped with four reflective accents for safety, and a front flotation flap at the neck area for additional buoyancy. Side release buckles are adjustable so the life vest will fit your dog perfectly. There are two lifting handles on the back of this Frisco life vest, and a D-ring attachment for a leash. This budget-friendly life jacket for dogs is available in five different sizes.

Paws Aboard Pink Polka Dot Dog Life Jacket

Looking for a stylish life vest for your dog? We like this adorable one from Paws Aboard. The underbelly of the life vest is made from breathable mesh material to keep your dog comfortable and cool. The vest secures and adjusts at three different points. Reflective strips on the buckles add maximum visibility, and a top handle allows you to lift your dog in case of an emergency. You will love the price of this dependable dog life vest, and your dog is sure to love their time in the water while wearing it.

Kurgo Surf-n-Turf Dog Life Jacket

This dog life jacket from Kurgo is versatile, as it doubles as a life vest and rain coat. The flotation layer can be removed from the vest in order to be used for rainy day walks and adventures. But for a fun day at the lake, river or ocean, this Kurgo dog life vest is made from rugged material with three quick-release buckles. It has two different styles of lifting handle as well as reflective piping. It also has two convenient D-ring leash attachments. We love that you can use this life vest as a rain coat, and we know it’ll be a trustworthy addition to your dog’s wardrobe.

Frisco Neoprene Dog Life Jacket

The Frisco neoprene dog life vest is made with functionality and comfort in mind. Your dog will be able to move freely via the stretchy, cozy neoprene material. Like other life vests, this one has three buckles and adjustable straps, as well as a front flotation device to help your dog always swim upright. This life jacket from Frisco has two top lift handles for premium safety. We like that this life vest has a thick neoprene belly band which helps keep your dog insulated and warm in cooler water.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Should my dog wear a life jacket? – While the choice is up to you, we strongly recommend your dog always wearing a life jacket when they are around water. Even if your pup is an excellent swimmer, accidents happen. Just like people, dogs can panic or become quickly fatigued. A life vest keeps your dog safe at all times.
  • Are dog life jackets safe? – As long as your dog is fit and healthy enough to be swimming, dog life jackets are safe. Some breeds aren’t meant to swim, such as Bulldogs. Pet parents also need to be sure that the life jacket isn’t restricting movement or suffocating your pup. If your dog’s life jacket is too small or tight, it may cause avoidable injury.
  • How should a life vest fit a dog? – While your dog is standing still with their life vest on, the vest should be centered on your dog’s back. When the life vest is buckled and adjusted properly, you should be able to fit one finger between the life vest and your dog’s body. You also want to be sure that the neck strap isn’t putting pressure on your dog’s throat.

Conclusion

Equipping your dog with a life vest is best for their safety, whether they like it or not. Use lots of positive reinforcement when teaching your dog how to enjoy their new vest. You will feel much better enjoying a day at the lake knowing that your dog is safe! Remember to keep your proof of purchase and tags that come on your dog’s life vest, just in case you need to exchange it for a different size.

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