Life jackets help your dog stay safe when you've got your back turned. Check out our guide to the best dog buoyancy aids available today.
Even if your dog is a proficient swimmer, if you’re planning on going to a large body of water, giving them a little protection isn’t a bad idea.
Dog life jackets are a big help to canines in the water, helping them to stay afloat and minimising risk.
But not all designs are suitable for every dog.
Take a look at our buyers guide with the essential information, plus our list of recommended life jackets to consider.
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Our Recommended Life Jackets for Dogs
In our opinion, these are the dog life vests that deserve your attention.
There's our overall favourite, the best value for money, and a great alternative option.
We review each in more detail down below.
OUR TOP PICK
Ruffwear Life Jacket for Dogs
Ruffwear are a trusted name for canine accessories and their dog life vest is the pick of the bunch.
Available in three bright colours, the life jacket also features a reflective trim.
This should make your dog easy to spot in both daylight and low light conditions. On the top there is a tough handle which is stitched on very firmly.
It is available in six different sizes and the large size is described as being suitable for American bulldogs, Rottweilers and similar breeds.
A secure neck closure and buckles under the belly are easy to fasten and keep the jacket in the right position.
Not all jackets are suitable for every breed, and there were some dogs that struggled with the fit. That’s not a flaw with this life jacket as the shape of some dogs mean they need a different style to stay safe.
That was certainly the case here, especially for smaller dogs as the buoyancy pads weren’t in the right place for some breeds. The problem seemed to be more prevalent with dogs with deep chests.
However, for the vast majority of dogs, the fit was snug with support in the right places. It’s designed to be a slim fit so there’s no bulk that restricts the movement of your dog.
The material is abrasion-resistant for greater longevity. For cleaning, it's hand wash and air dry only.
Bottom Line: Ruffwear have created another great product which is perfect for the canine market.
This life jacket is well-made and will keep your dog safe while they’re in the water.
The fit won’t be suitable for every dog but that’s the same for every design so it’s important you try it on before heading out for a swim.
Outward Hound Granby Splash
The Outward Hound Granby Splash is a life jacket for dogs that can support canines of all swimming abilities.
Suitable for experienced swimmers and nervous canines alike, this life vest provides protection without being too bulky.
Manufactured in a bright orange tone and accented with reflective strips, the Granby Splash will ensure that your canine is visible even from a distance.
Thick foam is used for maximum buoyancy, helping your dog to float more easily without restricting movement.
An additional foam chin panel will help your dog keep their head out of the water. For certain brachycephalic breeds such as a pug, this extra support makes a big difference.
The whole jacket is made from ripstop material which is extremely durable and long-lasting. It also provides extra buoyancy while in the water without adding any unnecessary bulk.
On the top of the life jacket are two grab handle straps. This makes it much easier to pull your dog out of the water if needed, as well as give them extra support if they’re a bit nervous.
Available in five sizes, there are adjustable side-release buckles for easy removal and a secure fit.
The belly and chest are well-supported by a neoprene belly band. There is a size chart but some dog owners felt that the suggested measurements weren’t always accurate.
K9 Pursuits High Visibility Vest
If you want to ensure your dog stays visible at all times while they’re in the water the K9 Pursuits life jacket will do the trick.
Available in bright orange with reflective accents, your dog will easily be seen even in low light conditions or from a distance.
The shape and design of the life jacket is intended to provide maximum buoyancy without creating extra bulk.
The positioning of the buoyancy aids on the back is excellent, increasing flotation without altering the natural body position for swimming.
Quick release buckles ensure that the life vest is easy to get on and off while the adjustable straps allow you to get a really snug fit.
The neoprene band across the chest provides reassurance while also giving a secure and comfortable closure.
On the top of the coat a grab handle is very welcome. Use this to pull your dog back out of the water in normal conditions, or during an emergency. Firmly stitched to the body of the jacket, the straps can bear the weight of your canine without a problem.
There is a D-ring on the top of the coat which is useful for attaching leashes. However, it’s important to note that this is made from plastic so won’t be able to withstand any heavy weight or tugging. This is likely to be a safety feature so in an emergency, the D-ring can be pulled away.
EZDog Life Jacket
The EZDog Life Jacket draws on sophisticated design to provide dogs with greater buoyancy while in the water.
Nervous dogs or those who struggle to swim - perhaps because of their breed shape - will find the strategically placed flotation areas will make a very big difference.
Although all life jackets should help your dog float in the water, this one is one of the best. It has 50% more flotation than many other canine life jackets.
The flotation pads hold dogs in an upright position so they won’t have to work too hard to stay above the surface.
As well as providing top-notch safety, this life jacket is also comfortable. The ergonomic design features a contoured area on the neck and a neoprene strap.
The material is made from heavy-duty polyester that won’t snag or tear and has high visibility piping for low light conditions.
A grab handle on the top provides extra security for your canine, as well as facilitating smooth handling out of the water. The only slight criticism is that the straps run under the body and could cause discomfort on lifting.
Citetoile Life Jacket
If you want your dog to stay safe in the water while also looking rather funky, check out the Citetoile Life Jacket.
Featuring a shark fin at the rear, it’s a fun design that doesn’t compromise on safety or comfort.
The body is bite-resistant and won’t easily tear due to a tough Oxford material. On the inside closed-cell sponges hold their shape for longer and won’t absorb water, providing superior buoyancy.
Adjustable straps, six sizes to choose from and a grab handle for easy handling all get the thumbs up.
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Not all dogs are proficient swimmers, and might need a helping hand in the water. This might be due to stamina, anxiety, age or the shape of their body which makes swimming more difficult.
Some dogs might seem to cope well at first before quickly tiring and starting to sink. Other dogs can’t manage at all, failing to stay afloat despite paddling with their legs.
Dog life jackets work in the same way as they do on humans. As a flotation device, they increase buoyancy and help your dog to stay above the water.
As well as being useful for dogs who struggle in the water, a dog life vest can also be useful for canines who are over-confident.
If you’re travelling to a large body of water and have concerns about your pooch getting into difficulties a long way from the shoreline, a life jacket can provide some peace of mind.
Here are some of the main features to look for when choosing a dog buoyancy aid.
Fitting and Measurements
Make sure you measure your canine before buying a dog buoyancy aid because the fit can vary from one brand to another.
Your dog may fit the small size in one brand but need a medium in another so don’t assume that all the sizes are universal.
If the life jacket doesn’t fit onto your dog snugly, it could slip over his head or force him to roll in the water, causing a drowning risk.
The buoyancy areas must in the right positions, or once again, your pooch could find himself being forced in the wrong direction.
Although you must always check to see the life jacket fits your dog properly, it’s not just about the measurements. Weight is also a factor and every life jacket will have a maximum capacity.
Before choosing a life jacket for your dog, ensure that you won’t be exceeding the top weight.
If you place your dog in a life jacket which isn’t designed for their weight, if they start to struggle in the water, the life jacket may not be able to provide enough support.
Weight is just as important as fittings and measurements, but body shape is another factor which we’ll look at next.
Not all breeds are the same shape and that can make fitting life jackets more challenging. If your dog has a large and deep chest, you may need to look for a life jacket which is made specifically for dogs of that shape.
If you try and force your dog into a life jacket which isn’t sitting under the armpits properly you could end up restricting their leg movement.
This is crucial for your dog to be able to swim so could be extremely hazardous.
Recommended Reading: A well-stocked dog first aid kit can minimise discomfort and treat any minor problems your pooch may have.
No one wants to spend more than strictly necessary but when it comes to safety, quality matters. It’s therefore worth paying out for a canine life jacket which you can be certain will last.
Look for strong, waterproof material that won’t rip or tear easily. This is important in case your dog brushes up against rocks or branches while swimming.
It also needs to be able to bear your pooch’s weight if they have to be pulled out of the water.
Another area to check is the stitching. If this starts to fray or pull apart, the life jacket may lose its buoyancy or may no longer be waterproof.
Loose or misshapen stitching may also cause the jacket to catch, tear or rip more easily.
If your dog is struggling in the water, you may need to rescue him. Being able to spot him at a distance will be a big benefit.
Most life jackets come in bright or fluorescent colours such as yellow, green or pink, This can help visibility and allow you to see your dog from a long way away.
If your dog swims in lakes, ponds, rivers or other bodies of water which have a lot of vegetation, bright colours are even more essential.
Life jackets aren’t a one-size-fits-all buoyancy aid as different designs offer varying degrees of buoyancy.
If your pooch is generally a good swimmer but you just want to provide some extra support, light flotation is all that’s required.
In contrast, if your dog starts to flounder at soon as his paws hit the water, a life jacket with more buoyancy will help to calm him and keep him safe.
Also consider where the buoyancy is provided on the life jacket. Different designs provide buoyancy in different areas. What your dog needs will depend on his body shape.
Some life jackets have buoyancy areas under the belly area, while others have them on the back or on the sides.
Some life jackets which are designed for dogs who need more support have additional buoyancy areas around the neck to keep the head out of the water.
If your dog needs the maximum amount of buoyancy, look for a well-fitting design that has a buoyancy aid on the belly.
Ease of Use
Well-placed straps and buckles can make life much easier. You don’t want to struggle to put the life jacket on your pooch every time they get into the water.
There should be a well-positioned handle on the life jacket. This will enable rescuers to pull your dog out of the water more easily, should the need ever occur.
However, it’s important that the strap isn’t in the wrong place or too long. There’s a risk that a poorly designed strap could snag on the rocks or plant life, endangering your dog’s life rather than protecting them.