Taking your dog everywhere that you go is something that every dog owner wants to do. Dog parks, hiking trails, and your own backyard are some of the most common places to bring a dog… but let’s not forget about lakes and beaches! Dogs absolutely love the freedom that comes with a trip to a nearby body of water.
However, you do have to consider a dog’s safety during this time. Even though they may be strong swimmers, the unpredictability of nature is nothing to mess with. Despite this importance, most owners don’t even consider getting a life jacket for their dog (or don’t even know they exist)! That’s why this guide was created – to let you know of the importance of dog life jackets and what the best dog life jacket for your pooch is.
Table of Contents
OUR #1 RATED
Dog HeliosReflective Dog Life Jacket
One of the most strong and secure life jackets that’s reflective for visibility and adjustable in multiple places.
DogLemiDog Life Jacket
A very durable and well-built jacket that’s breathable and comfortable due to the large surface area.
HOOPETMesh Dog Life Jacket
An excellent value for a jacket that comes in numerous different colors and has very accurate sizing.
IDEPETFancy Dog Life Jacket
Fun designs combined with a large surface area and a comfortable fit makes this a great jacket for many dogs.
TAILUPDog Life Jacket
Featuring bright colors for visibility and safety, a snug fit, and solid straps, this jacket is does a great job keeping dogs safe.
Why Do Dogs Need A Life Jacket?
While it may seem like your pooch is the best swimmer in all the land and there’s no way anything could go wrong, everyone has their vulnerabilities. Even the strongest Olympic swimmers will tell you how difficult it is to stay afloat when something is going wrong with either your health or the environment.
Believe it or not, your dog also has these limitations, so it makes sense that you’d want to account for them just in case something goes wrong.
So, while dogs may usually be able to swim, and even if your dog is particularly good at it, there are many things that could go wrong. Mother nature can be unpredictable, and a rogue current can easily suck a dog underwater and away from our lives.
A dog may also run into some physical problems as well. Cramping up and losing the ability to swim properly is something that happens to even experienced human swimmers. Dogs can also experience exhaustion while swimming, and that’s bad news as well.
Many other possibilities exist for disaster, too. Most likely none of these things will happen to you and your pup, but risking the life of your best friend simply isn’t worth it. If you wouldn’t let your young child swim without a life vest, why would you let your goofy dog?
Where Should Dogs Use Life Jackets?
Most dog owners commonly think that dog life jackets are only really needed out on boat trips, that’s not really true. We try and tell everyone to keep a life vest on your dog any time that they’ll be playing in and around a body of water. This is because, let’s face it, lake water is the exact same as ocean water (albeit slightly less salty).
One of the most common places you’ll probably take your dog is your own swimming pool. Even here in your own backyard it’s a smart idea to put a life jacket on your pup, especially if they’re skittish or easily excitable. Older dogs, ones without much energy or with joint problems, should also be wearing a life jacket in case they simply can’t stay above the water.
Once again, there’s a very good chance your dog won’t run into a problem, but dog life jackets entirely remove the possibility of a drowning incident happening anywhere, not just in the open ocean.
How To Measure Your Dog
Properly measuring your pooch and then buying the correct size life jacket for them is essential for safety. Life jackets that are too tight can make it hard to breath and move around, which loose jackets can slide right off. Below are the three areas you’ll want to accurately measure on your dog to ensure a perfect fit:
- Length – Taking a cloth measuring tape, please and hold one end of it on the location where your dog’s neck meets its back. Stretch the tape out to the area about two inches before the start of the dog’s tail. This gives you the length measurement.
- Girth – The girth of a dog is its chest circumference, and it’s located right behind the front legs. This measurement is important to find because it’s usually the widest part of a dog’s body. To measure it, simply wrap the measuring tape around this widest part of your dog’s body.
- Weight – The weight of your dog is also important to consider, as heavier dogs require more buoyancy to keep afloat. If your life jacket isn’t buoyant enough, then it will struggle to stay above the surface.
Dog Life Jacket Safety Tips
While a life jacket itself will help keep your dog afloat in the water, simply clipping it on and not worrying about it anymore isn’t the best thing to do. There are a few more things you should consider regarding your dog’s life jacket:
- Choose the right size life jacket for your dog’s weight, length, and width. This ensures that the jacket will stay comfortably in place and protect your pooch as good as it can.
- Train your dog to like the life jacket and swim with it effectively. If your dog is terrified of the jacket and doesn’t know how to swim with it, it may cause more harm than good.
- Choose a jacket that is correct for the situation that you’re in. Pools may need more basic life jackets, while the open ocean has different, stricter requirements.
- checkSecure all straps and buckles before getting near the water. A quick check-up on the jacket before letting your dog run into the water never hurts.
- checkDon’t let your dog swim alone. The jacket may prevent easy drowning, but your dog can get into trouble if they’re all alone.
What Defines The Best Dog Life Jacket?
All dog life jackets are not created equal. There are certain features that you must be sure that your dog life jacket has in order to ensure your pup is as safe as possible. Below we’ve listed out some of the key characteristics you should be looking out for:
- Correct size – Ensuring that your dog is wearing the properly-sized life jacket is key. If your dog wears a life jacket that is either too small or too big, it can cause more harm than good.
- Easily adjustable – While choosing the correct size life jacket is very important, it doesn’t have to be exact. A life jacket that’s just about right but can then be adjusted to your dog’s exact proportions is just as safe.
- Comfortable – Your dog is going to be wearing their life jacket for hours at a time, so you’d want to give them something that’s comfortable. Ensure that the material is something that won’t harshly rub on a dog’s skin and irritate them. Additionally, dogs may not take kindly to an uncomfortable jacket and try to remove it.
- Strong material – Dog life jackets are made from a wide variety of material. As long as the material is strong, performs well in water, and is comfortable for your dog, you should be good to go.
- Color – Colors such as orange or red are much better for visibility, making it easier to spot your dog if they tend to swim far out in the water. If your dog is going to be limited to just your swimming pool, then you won’t have to worry too much about the color.
- Buoyancy – A life jacket that isn’t buoyant is absolutely worthless! However, the buoyancy can vary. Proficient swimmers may require slightly less buoyant jackets, while anxious or heavy dogs may need extra buoyancy.
- Safety – When safety is referenced here, it’s largely talking about the security features on a life jacket. This includes the safety straps and the very important handle. You should aim to have a life jacket with a handle so that you can easily pull your pup out of the water. Grabbing a flailing dog is not a fun task.
What Is The Best Dog Life Jacket?
There are so many dog life jackets available, and they all boast different features and styles. It can definitely be overwhelming looking at all of them and trying to decide on the perfect one for your dog and their safety. Fortunately, we aim to help caring dog owners like you by giving you the above guide and compiling a list of the 5 best dog life jackets below.
Remember, take into consideration where you’re going to be taking your dog the most so that you can choose the most appropriate life jacket.
our #1 rated
OUR TOP PICK
Reflective Dog Life Jacket
If you’re looking for the “Rolls Royce” of dog life jackets, Dog Helios has made it. This life jacket has many features that make it a very safe choice for your pup. A big selling point is its material, as it’s made from 600D Oxford Nylon which is very buoyant, tear resistant, and has 3M reflective stitching for enhanced visibility. The adjustability and security is also great, with 3 very strong straps and buckles allowing you to fit it snugly around your dog and not come off. The handle on the back of the best is very sturdy and large to give you easy access in case of emergency. There’s also an added hook to the back where a leash can be attached, meaning you don’t have to worry about both a collar and a life jacket.Owners of this jacket were very happy with their investment. The jacket comes in five sizes, and this combined with the adjustability allows it to fit any size dog perfectly. Dogs don’t seem to mind the jacket at all, with it not impacting play time and getting in the way. Performance-wise the jacket is great, too, with owners noting that their dogs don’t have to struggle at all to stay above the water.If an owner has anything negative to say about this vest, it’s that its sizing was slightly off. This is to be expected with the five sizes needing to fit every dog, but the adjustable straps lessened this problem greatly. Other than that, this life jacket has helped keep hundreds of dogs afloat with ease.
- Very strong material
- Many adjustable straps
- 3M reflective straps
- Slightly pricey
our #2 rated
Dog Life Jacket
DogLemi’s dog life jacket is perhaps one of the most technical-looking ones available, but it isn’t all just for show! The durable oxford and mesh material allows for a durable construction that’s still breathable and allows for quick drying. Reflective stripes over the body of the jacket make this a great option for adventures in the ocean or at night, and the overall bright colors help with that as well. The straps are extremely durable with strong buckles to keep it attached to your dog in all conditions. There is slightly more material on this jacket than other jackets, too, making it even more secure. The handle and leash hook are equally as secure and really round out this jacket.Because of the large surface area of the material, this jacket is very comfortable for dogs, with lots of owners stating that their dogs hardly even notice that it’s on them. The stitching is very solid and the overall jacket holds up very well after continued use. Owners of smaller dogs even note how easy it is to carry their dogs around by the handle and don’t fear that the jacket will break.Once again – we probably don’t have to say this anymore – the sizing can be a little bit off. While the population of owners that have this problem is definitely in the minority, it can happen. However, this is easily fixed by the adjustable straps, so it’s not much of a problem at all.
- Very durable
- Breathable and dries easily
- Lots of surface area
- Sizing may be slightly off
our #3 rated
Mesh Dog Life Jacket
One of the most popular dog life jackets available, this mesh jacket by HOOPET combined a great value with great quality. The oxford nylon material gives this vest a strong and quality feel, and the color is very bright to help with visibility. While it may be strong, it’s also lightweight so that it doesn’t weigh your pup down. Strong straps across the length and width of the body allow you to adjust it to your dog’s body, and a solid handle and leash hook make for an all-around safe jacket.Owners of this jacket love the quality they got for the value, stating that it really holds up to the abuse their dogs put it through. Dogs of all sizes easily and securely fit into this jacket, with the straps allowing for a secure fit on all different breeds. Buoyancy of this jacket is also great, with the inner lining being slightly thin but having no problem keeping all sizes of dogs afloat.Once again, like the Dog Helios life jacket, this jacket can be a little off on sizing sometimes. However, owners that state that they accurately measured their dogs never really had a problem with sizing. The thinness of the jacket may also make it not the best choice for older/low-energy dogs.
- Great value
- Bright colors
- Accurate, snug sizing
- A little thin
our #4 rated
Fancy Dog Life Jacket
Although this life jacket has several hilarious variants (a shark, mermaid, and clownfish are a couple), it’s still a very safe and effective jacket. Made up of a strong polyester with comfortable interior lining, this jacket is hardly noticed by dogs. The strong straps and large amounts of Velcro keep it securely attached on any dog, no matter their size and shape. The design element of all variants is also strong, meaning that it will hold its style for a very long time. Once again, the strong handle and leash clip make it a versatile and helpful life jacket for your pup.Owners of this jacket note, first of all, how hilarious it looks on their dogs. In addition to this, they mention how well it fits their dog when adjusted properly. The large amount of surface area also makes this a very comfortable fit, with most dogs not even putting up a fuss when they have to wear this jacket.Aside from the sizing being slightly off for some dogs, this jacket doesn’t have many any discernible flaws that people point out. The fin on the shark droops slightly for some people, but other than that it’s been keeping a lot of dogs safe and stylish for a very long time.
- Fun design
- Large surface area
- Very comfortable yet sturdy
- Slight sizing discrepancies
our #5 rated
Dog Life Jacket
TAILUP has created a dog life jacket that is very similar to that from HOOPET. An oxford and mesh lining ensures that your dog doesn’t overheat and lets the jacket dry quickly. There are several variants that have bright, vibrant colors, and the reflective strips help to increase visibility further. When sized correctly, this jacket fits a dog very well and holds itself in place. Overall, the quality of this jacket is on par with the competition for the best dog life jacket.Many owners simply state that it fits well, looks smart, and is solidly built. The colors and reflective strips are very easy to see even in rough waters, which is great for boat rides. This jacket appears to be most popular among owners with smaller dogs, so the solid handle gets put to the test and has had no issues.Some owners have pointed out that sizing can be inconsistent at times. There are times when size was ordered and another arrived, and others where the jacket was simply too small. However, the customer service is excellent and takes care of these issues promptly. A size up can also be ordered if your dog is on the edge of the previous size’s range.
- Very bright colors
- Fits snugly
- Solid straps and handle
- Sizing inconsistencies
Whether you decide to go with a more sleek life jacket or one that’s shaped like a shark, you’re ultimately doing a great thing for your dog. While you likely won’t run into any problems, your dog means so much to you, so a small investment in a dog life jacket will almost eliminate any possibilities of problems in the water.
So, after carefully reviewing all of the life jackets available, we’ve determined that the best dog life jacket is the Dog Helios Reflective Dog Life Jacket.
Dog Helios really did make the Rolls Royce of dog life jackets. A strong construction, reflective material, and great adjustability make this an excellent option for keeping your dog safe and happy in the water.