Best Dog Life Jacket – Reviews & Buying Guide
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Best Dog Life Jacket – Reviews & Buying Guide (December 2019)

Updated: October 25, 2019

Best Dog Life Jacket

Dogs love to swim, and if you want them to be safe in and on the water, you need to have the best dog life jacket.

Many life jackets offer a comfortable way for your dog to stay afloat while still allowing them to have a great time.

Your dog’s health is important, and regular dog flea treatment and other grooming can be helpful for that. Having things like a dog nail grinder and a dog dryer can help with grooming. And, if they have health issues, a dog laxative can help with digestion, and a dog cone can prevent them from irritating injuries.

For walks, keep your dog dry with a dog raincoat that will fit over their dog harness. Always have dog boots to keep their paws cool and dry, and put some emergency items in their dog backpack. Keep a dog cooling pad around, too.

If you have a nervous dog, consider purchasing a dog anxiety jacket or calming dog collar to help them out. Sometimes, they can get their nervous energy out with a dog fetch toy, dog interactive toy, or a dog chew toy. Or, they may feel safe hanging out on their dog bed with a dog blanket. Some pups just want to be with their human, so consider getting a dog bike trailer so they can go cycling with you.

Training your dog can help with safety for both you and them. If they’re a trained service dog, consider getting a service dog vest so people know. You can also try a dog agility tunnel and other training options that can help them to have more confidence.

Going on adventures together with your dog is fun and healthy. If some of those adventures are on the water, though, you have additional considerations you need to look into including a good dog life jacket so that they can stay safe.

Selection Of The Best Dog Life Jackets

Here are the best dog life jackets for most people according to Outlinist:

EzyDog XS-to-XL Doggy Flotation Device Dog Life Jacket

EzyDog XS-to-XL Doggy Flotation Device Dog Life Jacket
(rated 4.8 / 5)
Quality
Efficiency
Durability
Maintenance
Value for Money
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Ruffwear XXS-to-XL Reflective Adjustable Dog Life Jacket

Ruffwear XXS-to-XL Reflective Adjustable Dog Life Jacket
(rated 4.9 / 5)
Quality
Efficiency
Durability
Maintenance
Value for Money
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Paws Aboard XXS-to-XL Boating Swimming Dog Life Jacket

Paws Aboard XXS-to-XL Boating Swimming Dog Life Jacket
(rated 4.5 / 5)
Quality
Efficiency
Durability
Maintenance
Value for Money
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Vivaglory XS-to-L Sports Style Ripstop Dog Life Jacket

Vivaglory XS-to-L Sports Style Ripstop Dog Life Jacket
(rated 4.3 / 5)
Quality
Efficiency
Durability
Maintenance
Value for Money
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Outward Hound XS-to-L Granby Splash Dog Life Jacket

Outward Hound XS-to-L Granby Splash Dog Life Jacket
(rated 4.2 / 5)
Quality
Efficiency
Durability
Maintenance
Value for Money
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Best Dog Life Jacket Buying Guide

Buoyancy

The most important factor is just how buoyant the jacket is going to be when your dog is wearing it. Does it have enough buoyancy for your dog?

While the Coast Guard doesn’t yet approve dog life jackets, we can use their scale to help with your dog’s buoyancy needs. A human PFD provides 15.5 to 22 pounds of floatation for a person 90 lbs. or larger. Dogs need anywhere from 3 (for the smallest of breeds) to 22 (for giant breeds).

Color

Your dog is going to be enjoying themselves in the water, but you want to feel confident that you can keep an eye on them, too. The easiest way to do that is to get the brightest jacket that you can find.

You want bright colors, like orange and yellow, so that you can always see them and what they are doing. Multi-colored options are great too, as long as the colors are vibrant. You don’t want to buy camo or other dark colors.

Reflective Options

You may be out on the water at dawn or dusk – it’s a fun, quiet time to do so. But, it can make it difficult for you to keep an eye on your dog, even if they have a bright colored jacket. And, if something weird happens and they end up stuck in a dark space, you may need a little help finding them.

Having reflective strips and flaps can be really helpful when you’re looking for something that will reflect and catch your eye when light hits it.

Lift Handles

Sometimes, you’ll need to get your dog out of a tough situation, or maybe they’ll fall (or jump) out of the boat and need some help to get back in.

Lift handles help with this. Built like what you’d find on a duffle bag or suitcase, these handles are designed to hold a lot of weight, so all you need to do is grab the handles and lift your dog up. It’s a great safety feature and your dog won’t notice that it’s there.

Size

Knowing your dog’s life jacket sizing is important. If the jacket is too small, it could cause your dog discomfort or difficulty when trying to swim. Too big, and they could easily slip out of it or get stuck on something.

You need several measurements for a life jacket. First, measure the length of your dog’s torso from their neck to the base of the tail. Then, measure around their stomach. Lastly, measure their chest across from side to side. These three measurements will be used when sizing your dog’s jacket.

Fit

How your dog’s life jacket fits is also important to consider. Where are the “loose” areas? Are there certain parts of your dog’s torso that need to be more buoyant than others?

Try to put your hand in between the jacket and your dog’s fur on their chest, shoulders, neck, back, and stomach. If you struggle to do so (but you can still feel a little give), then it’s fitted properly. If there is any space that seems too loose (your hand slides in) or too tight (there’s no give at all), then you may need to find another option.

Durability

These are for outdoor play, and you want to be sure that it’s going to last them a very long time. You want to get material that doesn’t tear easily and is a jacket that has some sort of warranty.

Look for material that is labeled as “ripstop” or that has some sort of nylon or vinyl with it. Neoprene is another great material to look for. These will help to prevent tears and ensure that your jacket lasts a long time, even if your dog is using it on a regular basis.

Where Are the Floats?

While many jackets have the floating material all over the jacket, some of them will have more in some spaces than others. Most importantly, you want the floats on their sides, in front of the chest, and around the shoulders.

If you’re looking for a dog life jacket with chin support or neck support, you will also notice that the extra supports also have some float material inside of them, as well.

Exterior Material

The exterior material is important, because it’s going to be what makes the jacket last a long time and it keeps the floats inside of the jacket. You don’t want the material to tear easily and you want to be certain that it’s going to resist water, instead of absorbing it.

The best material for the outside of the dog life jacket is neoprene, because it lasts the longest, is waterproof, and it is comfortable for your dog to wear.

Interior Material

The most important part about the interior material of a life jacket is its buoyancy – this is what is going to keep your dog afloat. Plastic foams, like polyvinyl chloride and polyethylene, are some of the most common options that you’ll see on the market.

Obviously, if you go with something like an inflatable dog life jacket, you want to be sure that the nylon, vinyl, and/or polyurethane that is used on the inside is as strong as possible, and that there are no leaks before using it.

Straps and Buckles

Straps and buckles are important because you want to be able to make adjustments if your dog grows larger or if they start to lose weight when aging. It can also ensure that the entire life jacket is snug where it needs to be snug.

You don’t want straps and buckles that are out in the open though. They should tuck away easily because they could get caught on branches, seaweed, and other things that may be in the water.

Easy to Put On and Take Off

When you’re choosing a dog life jacket, you don’t want to get something that takes you 20 minutes to put on and take off. You want to be sure that it goes on easily so that your dog can get out there and start having fun!

And, if something happens (or you just need to dry your dog off), you need it to be easy to take off as well. Look for something with as few connection points as possible, that you can slip on and off, adjust, and be ready to go.

Weight

You never want the dog to be overwhelmed by how much their vest weighs. You don’t want it to be more than 5% to 15% of your dog’s body weight (and you want to stay on the lower end the smaller your dog is).

Along with weight comes bulk. The bulkier that the jacket is, the harder it will be for them to swim, ride on your water ski, or do whatever else that you want to enjoy on your adventures.

Multi-Use

In some instances, life jackets can be used for a number of other tasks. For example, some are set up just like a harness, with any sort of tug putting pressure on the shoulders and back, where it should be.

Life jackets can also be used as fun little costumes. There are a number of cute options on the market that have shark fins on the back, so your furry friend can pretend to be a shark while they’re swimming in the water or waiting on the shore.

Range of Motion

As you explore the different aspects of your dog life jacket comparison, you want to know that your dog is able to move. The more of a range of motion they have, the easier it will be for them to move around and enjoy their day.

The best dog life jacket is going to allow the dog to be free and have fun, while also ensuring that they stay safe while they’re in or near the water.

EzyDog XS-to-XL Doggy Flotation Device Dog Life Jacket
Our pick for the best dog life jacket is: EzyDog XS-to-XL Doggy Flotation Device Dog Life Jacket. This choice was made after spending 39 hours researching dog life jackets.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my dog need a life vest?

Many dogs are great swimmers, but not all of them. And even the best swimmers can get into tough situations from time to time.

How can you prevent tragedy in a tough situation? By getting the right life jacket for your dog. It can give them the extra buoyancy they may need in rough water and extra time in case they get away from you after falling off a boat or dock. Like with humans, life jackets are meant to save lives.

What if I have an older or disabled dog that needs a life jacket?

Older and disabled dogs need life jackets whenever they are near water, even if they are good swimmers or they’re used to being out and about. You may need to get something uniquely fitted and made for them and the needs that they have in the water.

Nowadays, you may be able to talk to manufacturers and get a design for something like a 3 legged dog life jacket. For older dogs, you want to err on the side of caution and get more buoyant jackets for them to use.

How do I use a leash with a life jacket?

If you want to keep a hold on your dog while they’re in a life jacket, you have a couple of options. First, you can just use their collar and hook the leash up to that.

A better solution, however, is to look for a life jacket that has a leash loop (sometimes called a “D loop” due to its shape) on it. These will act like harnesses and, if the dog pulls, it’ll only pull around their shoulders and back (where they should be pulling).

What about barrel-chested dogs?

Barrel chested breeds, like pit bulls, bulldogs, and other “bully” breeds, usually need some extra help in the water. They are more likely to fall face first into the water and they don’t paddle really well.

You can actually buy a specialized bulldog or pit bull life jacket, which puts extra buoyancy on the chest, neck, and chin. It helps to keep their nose out of the water, makes it easier for them to paddle, and keeps them safe if they happen to fall into the water.

Is there a difference between a life vest and a life jacket?

When you’re looking for a dog life jacket, vests may also come up during your search. There are some differences. Vests are great for home use, where you’ll be nearby the pool or pond that they are going to swim in. They’re lighter and less buoyant than jackets.

Jackets are better for those times where you’ll be out in deeper, rougher water. If you’re sailing, boating, swimming in the ocean, or swimming in a deep lake, you want to invest in the best dog life jacket.

EzyDog XS-to-XL Doggy Flotation Device Dog Life Jacket
Our pick for the best dog life jacket is: EzyDog XS-to-XL Doggy Flotation Device Dog Life Jacket. This choice was made after spending 39 hours researching dog life jackets.

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