best dog life jacket

Top 7 Best Dog Life Jacket (Vest) Reviews for 2019

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Do you love the water? If you have a dog, you probably like to include them in everything you do. That may include many of your water-based activities.

Whether it’s a splash in the pool or boating around your favorite lake, your pup probably needs a dog life jacket. This will help them to stay safe while taking part in your adventures.

Even though many dogs are good swimmers, accidents can happen to anybody. Even Michael Phelps would drown if he were knocked unconscious in a boating accident and wasn’t wearing a life jacket.

We’ve found seven of the best dog life jackets and put together all the information you need to choose the right dog life vest for your pup and keep everybody safe in the water.

Best Dog Life Jacket: Quick Recommendations

Our Top Pick

RUFFWEAR – Float Coat Dog Life Jacket for Swimming, Adjustable and Reflective

  • 3 colors and 6 sizes
  • 1 handle on the back
  • D-ring for attaching a leash

Best Small Dog Life Jacket

Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket

  • 2 grab handles on medium, large, and x-large sizes
  • 5 sizes
  • 2 belly straps and 1 neck strap

Best Large Dog Life Jacket

EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device Dog Life Vest Jacket (DFD)

  • Comes in 3 colors and 5 sizes (but not all colors are available in every size)
  • Has 50% more flotation material than most other dog life jackets
  • Has a D-ring to attach a leash

Vivaglory New Sports Style Ripstop Dog Life Jacket Safety Vest with Superior Buoyancy & Rescue Handle

  • Comes in 10 colors and 3 sizes (not every color available in every size)
  • 90-day warranty
  • Bright colors are easy to see

Kurgo Surf n’ Turf Dog Life Jacket

  • Can also be used as a rain jacket
  • 2 transverse handles to easily pull dogs out of the water
  • 5 sizes (but only comes in red)

Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket Vest for Swimming and Boating

  • 6 sizes and 8 colors (not all colors available in all sizes)
  • Mesh underbelly is more comfortable than plain straps
  • Quick dry fade-resistant material

HOLDOOR Sport Style Dog Life Jacket with Rescue Handle and Reflective Trim

  • Comes in 3 colors and 3 sizes
  • Strong emergency handle
  • Has a D-ring to attach a leash

best dog life vest

Why Should I Buy a Dog Life Jacket?

There are many good reasons to buy a dog life jacket. Here are just a few reasons to consider buying a dog life vest.

They Give Young Dogs Confidence While Learning to Swim

While some dogs take to the water as naturally as a fish, some puppies are much more hesitant about getting in the water. You want your dog’s first experience in the water to be a good one, so don’t risk them getting in over their head. A dog life vest can help keep their head above water as they learn how to swim.

They Give Senior or Injured Dogs Extra Support

Many dogs, especially large breed dogs, are prone to joint pain and problems as they age. Swimming can be a great low-impact exercise for senior dogs, but they may have a harder time paddling with their sore joints. A dog life jacket can help them swim with less strain.

Some Dogs Aren’t Built to Swim

While some dogs were bred to swim, others will sink without help. English and French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, and Pugs are just a few breeds that have a hard time in the water since it’s physically more difficult to lift their heads out of the water with their short necks. These breeds also tend to be quite top heavy.

Dogs with low body fat like Boxers, Greyhounds, and Doberman Pinschers can have a difficult time swimming, too. Their sleek bodies aren’t very buoyant.

Accidents Happen

Even dogs who are excellent swimmers can get tired, become injured, or get swept away by a strong current. A good swimmer may not need a life vest in a pool. However, even the best swimmers should wear a dog life jacket when swimming in water with a current or riding in a boat.

best dog life jackets

When Should I Use a Dog Life Vest?

There is never a “bad” time to use a dog life vest anytime your dog will be around water. However, there are some situations where it’s even more important to make sure your dog is safe with a life jacket.

On a Boat

Everybody, whether they have two legs or four, should wear a life jacket any time they are on a boat.

While there aren’t any statistics on how many dogs die in boating accidents each year, 560 to 821 people have died in boating accidents each year in the United States for the last 20 years. 80% of those deaths were from drowning, and 83% of people who drowned were NOT wearing a life vest.

Boating accidents can happen even in calm water, so make sure all your human and canine boat passengers wear a life jacket at all times.

On a Puppy

Some dogs may swim the first time their feet hit the water, while others may be less sure of themselves. Give your puppy some extra confidence and yourself some peace of mind. Fit your puppy with a dog life jacket any time they go swimming.

On Senior or Injured Dogs

Dogs who are elderly or injured can enjoy the water, too. In fact, swimming or even walking in water can be a great form of exercise that’s easy on a dog’s joints. However, dogs with joint problems may struggle to keep themselves afloat while swimming. That’s why you should give them a little extra help with a dog life vest.

best life vests for dogs

Things to Look for in a Life Jacket for Dogs

How do you know what sort of things you should look for in a dog life jacket? Here are a few tips.

Adjustability

Dogs come in all different shapes and sizes, so it isn’t enough to fit a dog life jacket based on measurements alone. The more adjustable straps a dog life vest has, the better.

This is especially important around the neck. Neck holes that are too large can trap a dog’s front leg when they’re trying to swim.

It’s also important that the straps can adjust to dogs with a large chest and small waist. Otherwise, the dog can fall out the back of the life vest.

Bright Colors

Water that’s even a little bit choppy can make it difficult to spot your dog. That’s why it’s crucial to buy a dog life jacket that is a bright color with reflective stripes to make it easy to spot your dog in the water. Unless you’re a hunter or only plan on using the life vest in a pool, avoid camo or other neutral colors.

Buoyancy

Some dog life jackets are more buoyant than others. Dogs that are natural swimmers may not need as much buoyancy. Meanwhile, dogs that tend to sink rather than float may need more buoyancy to keep their head out of the water.

The location of the buoyancy is key, also. Misplaced buoyancy can tip a dog sideways or upside down in the water.

Handles

If you only need a life jacket for your dog when they’re in a pool that they can easily climb out of, you may not care about a handle on the life vest. If you plan on spending any time with your dog on a boat, though, a handle can help you pull your dog out of the water and onto your boat.

Shape

The shape of a dog life jacket is more important than you might expect. The wrong shape of life vest can make it harder for your dog to swim. Additionally, male dogs often have problems with a dog life jacket covering or chafing their penis if it isn’t the right size or shape.

best life jacket for dogs

Best Dog Life Jacket Reviews

Our Top Pick

RUFFWEAR – Float Coat Dog Life Jacket for Swimming, Adjustable and Reflective

The RUFFWEAR Float Coat is designed to allow your dog to swim naturally in an upright position. One thing that sets it apart from other life jackets is that it has a place to attach a beacon to make it even easier to spot your dog in rough water.

Price: $$$$$

Features:

  • 3 colors and 6 sizes
  • 1 handle on the back
  • D-ring for attaching a leash
  • Machine washable

User Reviews: Relatively speaking, there aren’t many complaints about this product, and many of the complaints are about it not fitting small dogs well. The large neck hole that doesn’t adjust much is another complaint.

Bottom Line: If your dog is an unusual size or shape, you may have a hard time getting this life vest to fit. However, if it fits your dog well, it’s one of the best dog life jackets you can find. It’s sturdy, machine washable, and reliable, which is why we’ve made this our top pick.

Best Small Dog Life Jacket

Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket

Despite its affordable price, this is one of the best dog life jackets on the market today. Unlike most dog life vests, this one has 2 handles on the larger sizes to make it easier to pull your dog out of the water. The bright orange color and reflective piping make it easy to see in the water.

Price: $$

Features:

  • 2 grab handles on medium, large, and x-large sizes
  • 5 sizes
  • 2 belly straps and 1 neck strap
  • Neck float to help keep a dog’s head out of the water

User Reviews: Despite a few complaints of rips and tears, especially with the handles tearing off, most people are thrilled with the quality of this life jacket, especially for the price point. The two handles make it easy to pull dogs into a boat from the water.

Bottom Line: This budget-friendly life jacket may not last more than one season, but it’s still one of the best dog life jackets out there. The Granby comes in smaller sizes than most other dog life jackets, making it our top pick for the best small dog life jacket.

Best Large Dog Life Jacket

EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device Dog Life Vest Jacket (DFD)

Some dogs just don’t float very well, even with help. For those dogs, the EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device has 50% more flotation material than most other dog life jackets.

Price: $$$$

Features:

  • Comes in 3 colors and 5 sizes (not all colors are available in every size)
  • Has 50% more flotation material than most other dog life jackets
  • Has a D-ring to attach a leash
  • Very adjustable

User Reviews: Some people struggled to get this to fit their dogs, but for dogs who can get a good fit from this dog life vest, it works very well to keep even non-swimming dogs afloat.

Bottom Line: If you have a dog breed that sinks rather than swims, this is probably the best dog life jacket choice to keep your dog afloat. Fitting dogs with up to a 48” girth, the EzyDog is our top pick for the best large dog life jacket.

Vivaglory New Sports Style Ripstop Dog Life Jacket Safety Vest

If you love bright, fun colors and are looking for a dog life jacket at a reasonable price point, Vivaglory has you covered. Unlike most other life jackets, Vivaglory has a 90-day warranty.

Price: $$

Features:

  • Comes in 10 colors and 3 sizes (not every color available in every size)
  • 90-day warranty
  • Bright colors are easy to see
  • Sport style keeps dogs in a natural swimming position

User Reviews: Since this dog life vest is on the cheaper side, there are more reports of rips and tears than some of the other life jackets, and there are the usual reports of the life vest not fitting, but most owners love this product for their dogs.

Bottom Line: You may need to order the next larger size of this dog life vest for the best fit, and it may not last more than one season, but it’s still a good choice for the price point.

Kurgo Surf n’ Turf Dog Life Jacket

Multipurpose items are great, and the Kurgo Surf n’ Turf is no exception. In addition to being a dog life jacket, the flotation material can be removed, and the product can be used as a rain jacket. The two perpendicular handles also make it easier to lift your dog out of the water.

Price: $$$$

Features:

  • Can also be used as a rain jacket
  • 2 transverse handles to easily pull dogs out of the water
  • 5 sizes (but only comes in red)
  • Lifetime warranty

User Reviews: Apart from the usual complaints from people who can’t get a good fit on their dog and a few complaints about the handle ripping off, most people say this is a high-quality life jacket for their dog.

Bottom Line: As a multipurpose dog life jacket with two handles for removing your dog from the water, this is a good choice.

Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket Vest for Swimming and Boating

If you’re looking for an affordable dog life jacket that comes in a variety of fun colors, you’ve come to the right place with this product. The mesh underbelly is more comfortable for dogs than having bare straps rubbing the belly.

Price: $

Features:

  • 6 sizes and 8 colors (not all colors available in all sizes)
  • Mesh underbelly is more comfortable than plain straps
  • Quick-dry fade-resistant material
  • Has a D-ring to attach a leash

User Reviews: This life jacket is more adjustable than some of the other jackets and has fewer poor-fit complaints. However, there are a fair number of quality complaints with stitches ripping in as little as one use.

Bottom Line: There is a good chance this life jacket will fit your dog and work well, but it may not last very long and will need to be replaced sooner than you like.

HOLDOOR Sport Style Dog Life Jacket with Rescue Handle and Reflective Trim

This is a great mid-range dog life jacket that has Velcro straps to help ensure a good fit. Unlike other life vests than only have buckles, this dog life vest also has Velcro for the best possible fit.

Price: $$$

Features:

  • Comes in 3 colors and 3 sizes
  • Strong emergency handle
  • Has a D-ring to attach a leash
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee

User Reviews: The sizing runs a little small, and the x-large won’t fit any dog larger than a Golden Retriever, but most people love this product.

Bottom Line: As long as you don’t have a very large dog, this is a great life jacket for the price.

How Do I Buy the Right Size Dog Life Vest?

Each dog life jacket is fitted according to one or more measurements. Before shopping for a dog life vest, you should take all these measurements:

  • Girth – the widest part of your dog’s chest, usually right behind the front legs
  • Neck – measure around your dog’s neck where it meets their body
  • Length – from where your dog’s head meets their neck to a point 2-3 inches in front of their tail
  • Weight – heavier dogs may need a larger vest size

The girth should be the deciding factor for any dog life jacket. It’s the most important measurement, so make sure it’s accurate. It’s usually recommended to buy the next size up if you are uncertain.

dog life jacket

Are Dogs Required to Wear Life Jackets on Boats?

Unlike humans, dogs are not required to wear life jackets on boats. However, any dog can drown in an accident, so we recommend that you use a dog life jacket any time you take your fur child on a boat. Better safe than sorry, right?

Dog Life Vest Safety Tips

Using a dog life jacket isn’t as simple as strapping it on and tossing your dog in the water. There are some dog life vest safety tips you should follow for your dog to have the best experience possible on all your water adventures.

Get Your Dog Used to the Vest on Land

It can take a while for your dog to get used to a dog life jacket and how it feels to wear one. For best results, spend some time getting them used to it slowly on land before testing it in the water.

  • Allow your dog to sniff the vest, then give them a small treat
  • Put the vest on the dog and reward them before tightening the straps
  • Adjust and tighten all the straps, then reward your dog
  • Let them walk around and play for some time with the dog life jacket on so they can get used to the way it feels before they get in the water

Properly Adjust the Straps Every Time

Even if you have a dog life vest that doesn’t have straps that need to be fitted every time you put the jacket on, they may come loose over time. For the best fit, you should be able to fit two fingers snugly under each strap. A dog life jacket that is too loose can slip off your dog, while a life vest that is too tight can cause chafing or other discomfort.

Be Careful Attaching Leashes or Tethers

While many dog life jackets have a D-ring to attach a leash or tether to, you should use them with caution. On land, a dog may pull hard enough when they are on a leash to rip the D-ring off the life vest. In the water, a long tether may wrap around your dog’s legs and interfere with their swimming.

Always Supervise Your Dog in the Water

Even with an excellent dog life jacket, you should keep an eye on your dog at all times. You never know when they could become injured, get swept away by a current, or have problems with the life vest. You will never forgive yourself if your dog gets into trouble because you were too busy having fun to keep an eye on them.

Final Words: Summing Up The Best Life Vests for Dogs

Hopefully, we’ve given you all the information you need to buy the right dog life jacket so you and your dog can have a fun, safe time during all your water adventures. Finding the right dog life vest can be tricky, but the peace of mind you’ll experience when you find the right one will make the search worthwhile.

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