Best Dog Life Jackets
We know that adventures on the water can be even more fun when your dog can come with you. But just like the rest of us when we’re on the water, your dog should wear a life jacket for safety.
There are many different options out there, which can make it difficult to choose the best dog life jacket for your furry family member. To help you narrow down your search, we’ve put together some information and recommendations so you can keep your pet safe around water.
Top Picks: Life Vests For Dogs
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11 Best Life Jackets, Vests And PFDs For Dogs
1: Ruffwear Float Coat Dog Life Jacket (best overall)
The Ruffwear Float Coat is a durable, high performance life jacket designed for dogs. It comes in a range of sizes so you can find the most suitable fit for your dog. It also comes in highly visible colors for added safety.
One of the main features of this life vest is the telescoping neck closure. This means you can get a secure and comfortable fit for your dog without the neck piece coming apart. The adjustable chest straps feature buckle closures that are covered once they’re secure.
The life vest is also designed to maximize your dog’s natural movement, both when on land and while swimming. The low profile grab handle can also be useful in a rescue, without adding extra bulk.
There’s also a D-ring positioned under the grab handle, so you can easily attach a leash when required but it can be kept out of the way when not needed.
2: Vivaglory New Sports Style Ripstop Dog Life Jacket (most visible colors)
This Vivaglory Sport Style Ripstop Dog Life Jacket comes in a wide range of bright colors and sizes to suit different dogs.
The life vest is made from 600 denier Oxford nylon for added durability and the bright colors are enhanced with the addition of reflective strips to increase visibility in a range of environments.
It features adjustable straps at both the neck and the chest, with dual straps at the chest for a more secure fit. All the straps feature strong buckles.
The buoyancy foam wraps around your dog’s body, including the neck, and there is a mesh panel that sits under the chest for improved comfort and ventilation.
3: Outward Hound Granby Splash Dog Life Jacket
The Outward Hound Granby Splash is a durable life jacket that is designed to fit a range of dog breeds and sizes.
It comes in bright colors for enhanced visibility in water and also benefits from added reflective piping on the fabric.
It’s made from durable ripstop material, with a soft neoprene band that sits under your dog’s chest for improved comfort and mobility while on land and in the water.
The life vest features buoyancy foam at the neck to elevate your dog’s head above the water and generally increase flotation.
It features dual chest straps with buckle closures and a neck strap for a secure fit. All straps can be adjusted. For added safety and ease of use there are two grab handles on the sizes from medium upwards, which could make it easier to lift larger dogs.
4: WOpet Dog Life Jacket
The WOpet Dog Life Jacket is designed to provide your dog with flotation while using a novelty design. The bright pink color is highly visible in the water and if your dog isn’t cute enough already, the added fish tail will hopefully finish off the look.
This good value dog PFD benefits from having an easy-to-grab handle on the top, as well as a leash ring for keeping your dog safe on the leash.
It features a foam neck with an adjustable strap and buckle closure. It also features soft fabric with a velcro closure that wraps around your dog’s chest before the adjustable straps are secured using the two buckles.
5: Bocho Wave Rider Reflective Dog Life Jacket
The Bocho Wave Rider Life Jacket comes in a range of colors, including highly visible colors. The fabric features a mesh lining for added breathability and a flexible, durable nylon exterior.
The soft grab handle is designed to make it easier for you to lift your dog out of the water and into your boat. The durable metal D-ring can also be useful for attaching your dog’s leash.
It features an adjustable neck strap with a safety buckle closure at the side and wide dual straps that wrap underneath your dog’s chest for a secure and comfortable fit.
There is also the added benefit of reflective strips that can increase the visibility of the jacket in a rescue situation.
6: Dazone Pet Life Jacket (best for puppies)
This Dazone Pet Life Jacket can be a good option for puppies and small dogs because of its smaller sizes. This is an affordable life vest that comes in bright colors and features reflective strips across the fabric for increased visibility.
There are two straps that wrap underneath your dog, with buckles for a secure fit. The velcro padding sits underneath the straps for added comfort when the straps are secured.
The life vest also features an adjustable neck strap that helps you secure the buoyancy foam around your dog’s neck, which is designed to help elevate their head while in the water.
The added grab strap helps you to lift your dog out of danger. However, there is no D-ring for attaching a leash.
7: EzyDog Premium Dog Life Jacket
This EzyDog Life Jacket is designed for quality and performance. It comes in a range of sizes to suit different dog breeds and is crafted to offer increased mobility and comfort for your dog, both in the water and on land.
The life vest is designed to help keep your dog’s head out of the water with the buoyancy foam that wraps around your dog’s neck. This can be secured at the side with the buckle and adjusted using the straps.
The two chest straps are wrapped in neoprene to make it more comfortable for your dog to wear all day and for when you’re lifting your dog out of the water.
8: Petcee Dog Life Jacket
This Petcee Dog Life Jacket is an affordable PFD that is designed to fit a range of dog sizes and breeds.
It features three adjustable straps, all with buckle closures: two around the chest and one that fastens around the neck.
The life vest is made from durable nylon and features foam flotation and a mesh fabric underneath the chest straps for added comfort. There is also a buoyancy pillow that is designed to help keep your dog’s head out of the water when swimming.
This benefits from having a grab handle for quick rescues and reflective strips for enhanced visibility.
9: He&Ha Pet Dog Life Jacket
The He&Ha Pet Dog Life Jacket is designed to provide a high level of buoyancy. It features closed cell foam that wraps around your dog’s body, even providing additional buoyancy underneath them.
Another handy feature is the buoyancy float that sits under your dog’s chin to help keep their face out of the water, although this may be more useful for smaller dogs because of where it sits.
It features adjustable chest straps and an adjustable neck strap, all with buckle closures. On the top of the life vest there is a sturdy grab handle and a D-ring for attaching a leash.
The breathable mesh lining can also make the PFD more comfortable.
10: Paws Aboard Pet Life Jacket
This Paws Aboard Pet Life Jacket is made from durable, quick-drying neoprene, which is also flexible and designed to be lightweight. It also features a mesh fabric under the chest to allow for drainage and breathability. This could make it a good option for warmer climates.
The life vest wraps around your dog, with a velcro closure on the mesh fabric to allow you to secure it in place before buckling the adjustable dual chest straps.
The neck strap benefits from a buckle closure and can also be adjusted for fit and comfort.
For increased visibility there are reflective strips on the back and there is a grab handle for easily lifting your dog to safety.
11: NRS CFD Dog Life Jacket
The NRS CFD Dog Life Jacket comes in a range of sizes, ranging from 18 to 24 inches (XS) right up to 36 to 41 inches (XL) so it can be ideal for a variety of breeds.
The life vest is made from durable 1000 denier Cordura nylon so that it can survive all of your dog’s adventures. It features a five point adjustment system, with two chest straps that are secured by buckles that close on the back for a secure fit.
The padded neck strap is also secured with a buckle that closes at the side. It is designed to be easy for your dog to move around in, whether for swimming or running on the docks.
The red color of the fabric is crafted for visibility and there are also reflective strips that make it easier to low light.
Another great feature of this PFD is the added zippered pocket on the back. This can be ideal for stowing a leash, or if you trust your dog to carry his or her own snacks.
Buyer’s Guide To Choosing Dog Life Jackets
Does Your Dog Need A Life Jacket?
If your dog will be joining you on your boat or anywhere else around water, then it can be a good idea for your dog to wear a life jacket. This can be the case for both swimming and non-swimming dogs.
A lot of dog breeds will tend to swim naturally, with some being generally good swimmers. However, this does not mean that they won’t ever struggle. All dogs can become tired, particularly when swimming for a while or in deep water. Strong currents can also easily drag a tired dog off course.
Just like people, dogs can also fall overboard, which can cause them to panic and could mean they would struggle to keep themselves afloat. This could be particularly dangerous for smaller dogs or for any dog if you’re boating in deep, cold or rough water.
Some dogs are also less built for the water compared to others, such as those with short legs or those with slender frames. French bulldogs and whippets, for example, don’t generally have the correct build for prolonged swimming and these breeds could benefit from a life vest to increase their buoyancy.
A life jacket can give your dog additional buoyancy when in the water. This can help them to stay afloat even if they tire, as it means they shouldn’t have to work so hard paddling.
As well as being a life saving device on vessels, a dog life jacket can be useful in training dogs to swim or when introducing them to water for the first time, as this can help your dog to feel safe and secure. This can also mean they don’t need to paddle as hard to keep themselves afloat.
What Features Should You Look Out For?
A handle can be one of the most useful features of a dog life jacket, as this can let you grab your dog quickly to pull him or her out of the water.
Video: Tips For Choosing The Right Dog Life Jacket
The handle is usually located on the top of the life jacket so that it sits on your dog’s back. It should be sturdy and strong so that it can support your dog while being lifted out of the water.
A handle can also come in handy for dogs who are first-time swimmers or nervous swimmers, as you can hold the handle to help keep them afloat while they get used to the water and learn to swim.
Bright colors can be a great feature of all life jackets, whether for humans or pets. A brightly colored dog life jacket can be useful in increasing the visibility of your dog, both on deck and in the water.
For example, when dogs swim, their heads are usually the only part of them that’s visible above the water, as the rest of their bodies are underwater.
A brightly colored life vest can help boaters and other water users to see your dog more clearly, as it highlights more of your dog’s body which will also be elevated thanks to the buoyant vest.
D-Ring Attachment Point
A D-ring attachment point can be an essential feature for dog life jackets. This can let you attach a leash so that you can keep a hold of your dog while on deck.
The D-ring can also be used to attach a longer rope, for example, if your dog might be jumping off your boat to swim. This can help prevent your dog from straying too far from the boat or being dragged by currents.
How To Measure Your Dog For A Life Vest
Just like fitting a human for a life vest, your dog’s life vest should fit snugly but comfortably. It shouldn’t slide off over your dog’s head or shoulders when you lift it.
Your dog should also be able to sit and lie down while wearing their life jacket, as well as be able to relieve themselves.
To measure your dog’s chest, use a measuring tape and wrap around the widest part of your dog’s chest. The tape should be tight but not too tight. Remember, this may be more difficult with long haired dogs, but the measuring tape should be measuring their circumference of body rather than their thick hair.
Video: How To Measure Your Dog For Coats & Harnesses
The straps on many life jackets will often go around this part of your dog’s body, so this can be a vital measurement to know before you choose the size.
To measure your dog’s neck, measure around the widest part of their neck, close to their shoulders. This is generally where the collar of a life jacket will sit.
Many dog life vests will require this measurement because the life vests often sit across the shoulders, with the neck strap wrapping around the lower part of your dog’s neck.
Some life vests may require a collar measurement, depending on the style. This measurement will usually be taken from where your dog’s collar would naturally sit. However, this measurement may not always be required, as most life vests will sit lower and wrap across the shoulders.
This measurement is the length of your dog’s back, usually taken from their shoulders to their hips, just before their tail.
If your dog’s measurements are in between sizes for any of the measurements, it’s usually better to go up a size in these cases, as it can be more comfortable for your dog, especially if they will be wearing it for a long period.
How To Encourage Your Pup To Enjoy Wearing A Life Vest And Stay Safe
You may find that training can go a long way when it comes to getting your dog to wear a life vest without a fuss. It can be a good idea to start off slow. For example, encourage your dog to slip their head through the harness by rewarding them with a treat afterwards.
Repeat this behavior until your dog feels comfortable. Once you think your dog is happy with it, try securing the strap around their chest. Reward them again after you’ve buckled it, so that they can associate the strap sensation with a treat.
Repeat these techniques until you feel that your dog is comfortable. You can also gradually increase the length of time that your dog wears their life vest each time you put it on them. This means they can build up to wearing it for a full day on the water.
While it might be better to train your dog to wear a life jacket when they’re a puppy, you can still train an older dog. You may also find that some dogs will take to their new clothing quicker than others.
Remember to be patient and give your dog plenty of time to get used to the PFD on dry land, particularly at home where they feel comfortable.
Teaching your dog to swim in their life jacket can be a good way of helping them to get used to wearing it. This can make it more comfortable for your dog in general but can also be useful when it comes to an emergency situation, as your dog should already have experience of swimming while wearing the vest.
This can be made into a fun activity, especially when your dog wears their life jacket for something that they enjoy. Rewarding their good behavior can help to encourage your dog to enjoy the new “game” of swimming in their life vest.
Just like you would test a life jacket for people, it can be a good idea to test your dog’s life vest for buoyancy. You could do this in a swimming pool or somewhere calm and safe.
Have your dog wear the life jacket and help them to float by holding the handle. You can also use this opportunity to teach yourself how to use your dog’s life vest, for example by practicing lifting them out of the water.
For some dogs, such as larger dogs, you may need to support them underneath while you lift them with the grab handle. This is to help prevent the straps from restricting airways or causing discomfort, but this will usually depend on where the straps are under pressure.
It can also be a good idea to lift them straight up, rather than in a forward motion, so that most of the weight of your dog is distributed across the life vest.
When Should Your Dog Wear A Life Vest?
If your dog will be around water, particularly deep water, it can be a good idea to have them wear a life jacket. Activities such as boating and kayaking can be ideal circumstances, as these are usually activities where you would be wearing a life jacket yourself.
Other occasions, such as a trip to the beach or riverside, where your dog may want to jump into the water, can also be ideal for having them wear a life jacket.
Sometimes it can be a good idea for dogs to have their life vest on while they’re beside a swimming pool, as dogs can fall in and can often become exhausted through panicking and thrashing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Dog Life Jackets Expensive?
No, dog life jackets are generally not expensive compared to some life jackets for people.
Is Neoprene Safe For Dogs?
Neoprene is used on many life jackets and water clothing for people so it should be safe for your dog to wear too, as long as your dog doesn’t eat it!
Can Dogs Swim Ok With A Life Jacket?
Yes, dogs should be able to swim freely while wearing a life jacket, as long as it is the correct size and fits comfortably.
Are There Times When Dogs Don’t Need Life Vests?
For added safety, dogs should wear life vests any time that they will be in or around water, such as boating or swimming. If your dog will be in very shallow water where they can easily stand and run, then they may not need a life jacket.
As you can see, there are plenty of options when it comes to finding a dog life jacket but we think the best one is the Ruffwear Float Coat. It’s durable, comfortable and secure and has the safety features that you should look for in a dog life jacket, such as the strong grab handle.
Another great choice is the NRS CFD life jacket as this one has a high level of adjustability for a more secure and comfortable fit, as well as the added bonus of a little zippered pocket.
But remember, the fit and comfort level will likely vary depending on the size and breed of your dog, so it can be a good idea to make sure you have a correct fit for your particular dog. Keep in mind the measurements of your dog and the size recommendations from the manufacturer.
Remember to give your dog time to get used to their new life jacket before you head out to the water and hopefully they can join you in all of your adventures.