The Best Life Jackets For Your Dog
Dog life jackets are a great way to keep your dog safe in the summer while they’re swimming. We know how important your pooch’s safety is to you, and that’s why we’ve reviewed some of the most popular life jackets to see how reliable they truly are. No matter what size breed you have, you can find a life jacket that will keep them afloat in just about any water.
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Does Fido Need A Life Jacket?
With summer approaching, now is the time to start preparing for the heat with your dog. Most dogs love playing in the water; it’s important to keep in mind that no matter how strong of a swimmer you may think your dog is, drowning is still a very real risk. Not only do life vests give your pup a safety net in case they get too tired to swim, they also make it much easier to see your pup in open water such as at the beach or at the lake. Ultimately, however, you know your pup better than anyone; if you’d like a bit of peace of mind when your dog is swimming, you may want to try out a dog life jacket.
Life jackets aren’t just for boats, you might be surprised to find out how many dogs drown each year just in swimming pools. It’s often difficult, or nearly impossible for dogs to get themselves out of pools, or back into the boat, and you may not realize how tired they’re becoming until they can’t swim anymore. A life jacket will not only keep them afloat when they’re becoming tired, but it will also help them relax around water. When your pup doesn’t have to work as hard to stay afloat, they won’t be anxious and the likelihood that they’ll go under in a panic is significantly reduced.If it’s your dog’s first time swimming it can also be a great help to introduce them to water with a life jacket. This will give them a safety net that will keep them calm and allow them to have a calm first experience.
How To Fit Fido For A Lifejacket
Dog life jackets can be difficult to size, if you visit the pet store, you’re given limited options, and you’re left ordering online – which can be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, we’re here to help! There are a few tips to keep in mind as you begin your search for a good fitting life jacket.
First, you’ll want to look at the cut of the life jacket; depending on your dog’s length, neck size, fur thickness, and arm thickness, you’ll be able to eyeball pretty well if the lifejacket you see online was designed for the breed of your dog. For example, if you have a short bodied breed and the life jacket looks well suited for a Doxen, you’re probably looking at the wrong life jacket.
We have found that dog sizing approximations (small, medium, large) are incredibly accurate with some brands, such as Vivaglory. Even if you typically buy apparel for your dog, you can’t depend on average sizes when it comes to life jackets – this is the one article of clothing that needs to fit properly to work. Every brand will provide a sizing chart with exact measurements for their different lines of life jackets; if they don’t, it’s probably best just to find a different brand. There are typically 4 measurements you’ll need to have on hand before purchasing your life jacket; girth, neck size, length, and weight.
- Girth Measurement: Measure the largest part of your dog’s ribcage
- Neck Size: Measure the circumference of your dog’s neck
- Length: Measure your dog from their shoulder blades to the base of their tail
- Weight: When in doubt, round up on weight to ensure it can keep your pup afloat
When you receive your new life vest, you want to make sure it fits properly before letting your pup swim around in it. When they first put it on, make sure it’s not too heavy for them to walk around in; if they’re uncomfortable simply walking in it, they won’t get much use out of it. You should also have your pet wear the jacket outside of the water several more times before they go swimming, and provide treats to help associate the jacket with a positive experience
What To Look For In A Lifejacket
As we discussed earlier, size is extremely important when purchasing a life jacket. If the jacket is too loose, or too tight, not only will your dog be uncomfortable, but it won’t work as well. You also need to pay attention to weight, if your dog is heavier than the maximum weight of the life jacket, it won’t be able to keep your pup afloat.
The second most important thing to look for in a life jacket is buoyancy. Obviously, the point of a life jacket is to keep your dog above water, and without proper floatation, your dog is just wearing a heavy coat. You can find life jackets that have various floats around the jacket, and be depending on your dog’s swimming ability and size, you’ll want to use your best judgment to pick the right fit. We prefer life jackets that have floats in the front under the neck. These will easily keep your dog’s head above water no matter how tired they may get. You can also find life jackets with floats under their stomach and on both sides. The more floats the jacket has, the less work your pup will have to do to stay afloat.
The next thing you’ll want to look for is handles. If your dog gets into trouble, or can’t get out of the water by themselves, handles are incredibly important. Fortunately, all of our picks have fairly sturdy handles, but they’re often the first thing that rips after prolonged use. If you can find a life jacket with at least two handles, you’ll have an easier time lifting your pup without creating much wear and tear
Lastly, you want to make sure your life jacket is a bright color and has reflective material. Even if you’re only going to be using the life jacket during the day, it’s very easy to lose your pup in dark water such as the ocean or at the lake if their life jacket is a dull color. The reflective material will help you see the life jacket both at night and in the sun.
Design Flaws To Be Aware Of
There are a few commons design flaws that we’ve noticed as we began our review process. There are a few simple ways you can check to make sure the life jacket will be safe and comfortable for your pup. The first issue we’ve seen over and over is that the floats on the chest can often be too large, constricting your dog’s range of motion while they’re swimming. If their shoulder blades or arms aren’t able to move freely they’re going to be uncomfortable in the water. When you receive the life jacket, have your dog walk around in it in your house, if they start tipping to one direction, or have trouble walking around – chances are they won’t be comfortable in the water.
The second most commons design flaw is with the top handles. If they’re placed in the wrong place across your dog’s body, you’ll have trouble picking them out of the water. If you can find a life jacket with two handles, this is definitely preferable. You want to make sure that the front handle is between your dog’s shoulder blades (or close to them). If the handles are too far back, you’re going to be dunking your dog’s head under the water when you lift the handles. To test this out you can have your dog stand on dry ground, and lift them up from the front handle if their front legs lift up first, you’re good to go!
Outward Hound Ripstop
Outward Hound typically makes extremely high-quality products, and this life jacket is no exception. It’s one of the highest rated life jackets out there and for good reason. First of all, this life jacket is bright enough to see from a great distance and has reflective accents all over. The life vest also has two handles; one towards the shoulder, and one towards the tail. This will make it easy and comfortable for you to pick your dog out of the water. Most importantly, the life jacket has enough buoyancy to keep your dog afloat in any water, and even has a front float support to help keep your dog’s head above water.
Vivaglory Life Jacket
Vivaglory life jackets are also fairly popular. The jacket is made with extra padding to create more buoyancy for your dog; it also has a removable front float to help keep your dog’s head up if they need it. The jacket includes a handle that you can easily grab if you need to pull your pup out of the water. To put the life jacket on, simply adjust the nylon straps and buckle it under your pup’s chest. The jacket also has a plastic hook at the top which you can attach to a leash.We love this jacket because of its buoyancy and reflective material, making swimming fun and safe for your dog.
The one problem with this life jacket is that the sizing used is vastly different than most dog companies. Unless you measure your pup using their specific sizing chart (available on Amazon), you will most likely end up with a life jacket that is far too large. Fortunately, their customer service is incredible; if you do find issues ordering the right jacket for your pup, you should have the right size or color quickly shipped to you.
EzyDog Life Jacket
Just like all good life jackets, the EzyDog jacket is made with a highly reflective material, is highly buoyant, and contains a handle at the top so that you can pick your pooch up out of the water. So what sets this apart a bit? First of all, you may notice upon purchase that this is on the pricier side of life jackets. All of the canvas material used to make this life jacket is extremely durable, as are the buckles used for all of the straps.
You won’t have to hesitate to repeatedly pick up your pup out of fear that the handle will rip off. All of the straps on the life jacket are sewn very well into the life jacket; they’re also unusually wide to create added durability. All you have to do is fit the velcro straps to your pup and stick them together. The jacket also includes a zip pocket for storage if you need to carry anything with you and your pup while swimming. The only thing that you need to be cautious about once again, is sizing. EzyDog has their own sizing, and while it’s not too different than most dog apparel sizes; make sure you take a look to make sure you can find a good fit for your pup.
Fido Pet Products Paws Aboard Life Jacket
The Fido Paws Aboard Life Jacket is built much like the EzyDog Life Jacket. It has two durable buckles that snap together under your pup’s belly; it also includes a velcro strap that goes around your dog’s neck to keep their head up. While it does have a handle on the top of the lifejacket, you will quickly notice that it’s not super durable. With continued use, the handle will probably rip off at some point. Of course, the most important factor is buoyancy; the life jacket will definitely keep your pup afloat while they’re swimming. The bright red color will also make them easy to find. Keep in mind when picking sizes however that the life jackets tend to run a bit big for most pups.
Outward hound dawson swim novice
Our final pick is another great Outward Hound life jacket. Their Dawson Swim Novice Swimmer is made with neoprene for better mobility and buoyancy. It has two straps that buckle underneath of your pup’s belly, and a strap that keeps the neck floatation in place. Unlike a lot of other life jackets, the handle on the top is extremely durable, and not likely to be an issue. There are several cons to consider if you’re purchasing this product. First, the sizing can be a bit strange, if you follow Outward Hound’s specific sizes you should be in good shape. After extensive use, you may also notice that the various straps begin to loosen up. If you’re using it in places like the surf zone, you’ll need to monitor the straps throughout your pup’s play.