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July 27, 2020 12 min read

Are you planning on taking your dog out on your stand up paddle board with you? Paddling out with your furry best friend is a dreamy image and a bucket list goal for most water enthusiasts.

Some dog breeds are better suited to the water than others. However, even if your dog is a strong swimmer, you should always prepare a DFD (dog floatation device) for your dog as a precautionary measure. Swimming can be super tiring for dogs. A dog life jacket simply assists their buoyancy and keeps its head above the water. By the way, don't forget to check out our dog paddle boards!

With the assistance of this simple piece of gear, you will not be taking any risks and putting your dog’s safety first.

best dog life jackets on land

1. What Is the Best Life Jacket for Dogs?

Choosing the right DFD for your dog can be a daunting task at first. But with the correct research, you can find the best life jacket for your dog in no time.

Not all dogs are the same. Some are big, some a little. This will affect your choice of DFD when you go paddle boarding with your dog.

There are some fantastic options available that will be perfect for your pup and help them to stay afloat on any nautical adventure.

2. Should Dogs Wear Life Jackets?

Even if your dog is a good swimmer, you should be gearing them up with a life jacket if you plan on exploring deeper waters.

Swimming can be exhausting for dogs, especially if they have to paddle against currents or through waves. With the help of a lives jacket, your dog will have added support while in the water.

This simple flotation device is one of the many paddle board accessories you should consider for aquatic sports. It will give you peace of mind and help your furry friend stay afloat.

3. Do dogs have to wear life jackets on boats?

It is always recommended to have your dog in a life jacket if they are on a boat. When heading out on a boat, you are generally going into deeper waters and quite often come across currents.

If your dog jumps in for a swim or falls overboard, then an easy grab handle is there to haul them back up without any stress.

What activities require dog life jackets?

Dog life jackets are not limited just to boats. There are other situations where your dog should be wearing a DFD.

An outdoor walk and splash through a river don’t strictly need the assistance of a dog life jacket. If you are fortunate enough to have a swimming pool at home, it may be a good idea to fit your dogs with life vests just in case they fall into the pool when no one is watching.

However, when doing these more adventurous activities it is recommended that you kit your dog out with this lifesaving accessory:

  • Paddle boarding
  • Kayaking
  • Fishing
  • Boating

This is just a suggested list. There are other scenarios where you must have dogs with life jackets. For example, you may have an older dog suffering from arthritis and needs to undergo some hydrotherapy. A life vest will assist them in their treatment by giving added buoyancy.

It is important that you match the intended activity with the life jacket for your dog. Some are more focussed on aesthetics rather than deep ocean adventures.

Read more: How to Paddle Board With Your Dog

dog on gili board

4. Our Quick Picks for Best Dog Life Jackets (read on to find out why!)

Product Key Feature Price

Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket

outward hound granby dog life jacket
The Best All-Arounder
Check Price

Paws Aboard Neoprene Doggy Life Jacket

paws aboard doggy dfd

The Best for Puppies
Check Price

Ruffwear K9 Float Coat Adjustable Dog Life Jacket

ruffwear dog life jacket

The Best Premium
Check Price

Kurgo Surf n Turf Dog Life Vest

kurgo dog life vest

Best Multipurpose
Check Price

EzyDog Dog Life Vest Jacket and Micro DFD

 

ezy dog life vest

Best for Buoyancy and Float
Check Price

Vivaglory Ripstop Dog Life Jacket

vivaglory dog life jacket

Best on a Budget
Check Price

Queenmore Shark Fin Dog Life Jacket

queenmore shark fin dog life vest

Best for Fun
Check Price

5. Key Features to Look for in a Dog Life Jacket

Before we look into some recommended dog life jackets let’s make note of some key features. These simple features will help you find the best dog life jacket.

  • Correct size
  • Adjustability
  • Material
  • Comfort
  • Buoyancy
  • Color
  • Security

Sizing/Puppy Friendly

Every dog is different, just like humans! The size of your pooch plays an important role in determining which flotation device to choose.

Is your pooch fully grown? Or are they a puppy heading out on their first adventure? Life vests come in small, medium, or large sizes to fit every breed.

Handles and D-Rings

An easy grab handle on the top of a dog life jacket is a valuable feature. It provides a quick grab for owners in case your dog needs lifting out of the water or simply just holding back.

It is also super useful for when training your dog in the water and practicing their swimming. You are able to guide them in the water and provide assistance until they feel comfortable. A handle is great if your dog is swimming in deeper waters and you need to haul them back on board the boat or paddle board.

D-Rings are just as important. The best dog life vests should have a d-ring for you to attach a leash while on the land. Just be careful not to tie them on to your paddleboard or boat and restrict their movements, just in case you have an emergency.

Make sure the product you choose has these safety features.

Color and Visibility

If you are planning an afternoon in the swimming pool then it doesn’t matter too much about the color of the live vest. But, if you are planning on exploring lakes or head out in the ocean the visibility should be considered.

Bright colors and hi-visibility reflective panels are essential to maintain safety in the water. Red, orange, and yellow are great options to make it easy in spotting your dog while swimming.

Quick-release straps

Similarly to any water sport accessories, a quick-release function is always recommended and a good idea. Normally all the straps are fitted with buckles which allow for owners to remove the life jacket from the dog quickly if required.

It is also recommended to make sure the DFD has fully adjustable straps so you can fit the jacket perfectly to your pooch.

Durability/Chew-resistant

Most dog life vests are made from quality materials to provide durability. Just check the stitching is up to standards and match the quality of the material.

Just as some dogs are born swimmers, some are also born chewers. Our advice is to make sure there are no loose straps in easy reach of your dog while they are wearing the jacket.

To increase the lifespan, make sure you rinse off saltwater after each use.

Buoyancy

Buoyancy levels vary depending on which jacket you choose and how they make use of foam panels. The size of your dog will affect the amount of float the jacket needs, which is already accounted for in the DFD sizing.

Some of the best dog life jackets have extra floats around the neck to help keep their heads above water.

dog life jacket swimming

6. How to measure a dog for a life jacket?

It is essential to make sure that the dog life jacket fits your dog well. Too big can cause difficulties while swimming and could even slip off the dog. Too small and you will restrict your dog’s paddling and possibly cause irritation.

You need to measure your dogs:

  • Girth
  • Length
  • Weight

From this, you will be able to follow the manufacturer’s size charts to find the perfect fit for your dog.

Weight

The weight is very important to take into consideration. The heavier your pooch, the more float they need. This is something to take into consideration when you're paddling with your dog! It's important to take into consideration the size of your dog when choosing the right size paddle board for you.

Size

There are three different measurements to get the correct size of your dog. You can use a simple cloth measuring tape for everything.

Firstly, you will need the length. This is measured from the neck/shoulders to a couple of inches above the base of the tail, along the length of the dog’s spine.

Next is your dog’s chest circumference. Be sure to measure the largest part of the rib cage to allow a decent fitting. Take the tape measure from the dog’s spine and take it over their rib cage behind their front legs.

Some products may give sizing options at the neck. You can measure your dog’s neck circumference at the lowest part closest to the shoulders.

Shape

The breed and size of your dog will affect which life jacket is the best for you. Some dog life jackets are better suited for smaller dogs, others for the larger variety.

Dogs with shorter legs or shorter necks typically match better with a vest style DFD to give more float on the top. Whereas the larger dogs have suited well to jackets the wrap all the way around their body.

7. Top 7 Dog Life Jackets To Buy

Taking all of that into consideration, here are some of the most highly recommended and reviewed dog life jackets available for purchase. There is a dog life jacket perfect for every occasion.

Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket

outward hound granby dog life jacket 

check latest price

The Outward Hound Granby dog life jacket is the best overall dog life jacket. This an excellent versatile option that fits most breed sizes. They offer five size variations, from extra-small to extra-large. Buoyancy, visibility, and handles were all in mind when this DFD was designed.

With chest straps, belly buckles, a double grab handle, and neck float support this is a great choice for your pooch. The bright orange color and reflective piping will ensure you never lose sight of your dog in the water.

Some reviews comment, however, that the sizing runs a little small, so pay close attention to those measurements.

Paws Aboard Neoprene Doggy Life Jacket

paws aboard doggy dfd

check latest price

Paws Aboard Doggy DFD has an incredible range of sizes available making this a perfect choice for puppies at XXS. Choose between four different colors and designs to match you and your dog’s needs. A neon yellow is perfect for ocean swimming, while a polka dot pink is perfect for pool days at home.

The design is fairly simple with a basic handle on top, buckled straps around the waist and neck, and small reflective strips to feature.

This jacket also features a mesh underbelly flap to give even more comfort for your furry friend’s water adventures.

Ruffwear K9 Float Coat Adjustable Dog Life Jacket

ruffwear dog life jacket

check latest price

Ruffwear’s dog DFD is a unique design that suits active and water sport dogs. This jacket has adapted the traditional velcro neck fitting into a telescoping closure that fits around the lower neck/chest area.

The materials used are non-abrasive with a comfortable internal webbing as lining. The bright color and reflective trim will give perfect visibility while exploring the water.

The foam panels are perfectly distributed across the jacket making this a great option for rough seas. Paws down, this is the best dog life jacket for those seeking a high-end and premium product.

Kurgo Surf n Turf Dog Life Vest

kurgo dog life vest 

check latest price

This Kurgo jacket has numerous positive reviews for versatility in its three-in-one design. Remove the floatation layer to have a neat canine rain jacket for those wetter walks in the Fall. There is no better multi-purpose life vest available.

The Surf n Turf dog life vest also features two handles on the back. Yes that is right, two! This gives you a better grip and provides even more comfort for your pooch while being hauled back up on your paddle board or boat.

However, it is recommended that you stick to shallower and calmer waters when using this one. If you want to get on some rougher oceans perhaps choose a different DFD.

EzyDog Dog Life Vest Jacket and Micro DFD

ezy dog life vest 

check latest price

The EzyDog Life Vests are a mirror to the jackets used in whitewater rafting so you will easily be able to find a PFD to match.

This is a more compact option but that doesn’t mean you lose out on the float. Actually, this is rated as one of the floatiest life jackets for dogs.

They have integrated 50% more buoyancy with the materials chosen. That’s a lot of buoyancy packed into a compact vest. All standard features are included, however, color options are limited.

Vivaglory Ripstop Dog Life Jacket

vivaglory dog life jacket 

check latest price

Are you on a smaller budget? Check out the Vivaglory’s Ripstop Life Jacket for dogs. It is one of the most highly rated on the market. There are five sizing options as well as eight colors to choose from.

This dog life jacket has more padding than others and a super secure fastening strap around the dog’s belly and neck, giving superb buoyancy without any restrictions.

All the desired features are in the design including a sturdy handle, D-ring for leashes, and adjustable straps with quick release buckles.

Comfort is number one with this DFD from Vivaglory. And with the variety of colors available, you will be sure to find the best jacket for your dog.

Queenmore Shark Fin Dog Life Jacket

queenmore shark fin dog life vest

check latest price

Is there anything cuter than a dog in a shark fin jacket? This dog life jacket from Queenmore will keep your pup looking adorable while keeping them safe in the water. Kimol have added a second layer of foam to give extra buoyancy and reinforced stitching at the handle for durability.

There are three different colors to choose from: rose, grey, and orange. Extra visibility is given on the reflective buckle straps around the jacket that do not restrict any movements while your dog is swimming.

The shark fin is a cute feature to accompany a great quality product. This is the best dog life jacket to make a bold statement and steal the spotlight while out on the water.

8. Safety first: Tips for When Your Dog Is Wearing a Life Jacket

It goes without saying, a dog life jacket saves lives and gives a safer experience. It is important to remember that safety is the number one priority when embarking on a watery adventure with your beloved pet.

To optimize safety, consider these tips before hitting the water:

  • Positive training for your dog
  • Correct fitting life vest
  • Matching the DFD to the activity
  • Supervision
  • Doggy first-aid kits on hand

Positivity for your dog

When training your dog you should also be encouraging and use positive reinforcement to make them feel safe and comfortable.

You need your dog to associate the life jacket with fun. They need to love wearing the jacket, not trying to escape it while on the water.

Make use of treats and start off by wearing the life jacket on land first and around the home. After they are fully comfortable, then you can introduce water and swimming. At first, they may find the float a strange sensation, but stay patient and positive and you will be well n the way to having an aquatic pooch.

It is important to note, if your dog is too scared of the water please do not force them. You should never push your dog outside of their comfort zone.

dog life jacket man pup pfd

Fitting correctly with secure straps

Measuring your pooch and fitting the dog life jacket is a necessary step for safety. A poor fitting jacket can be more dangerous than not wearing one at all.

Take the time to carefully get your dog’s measurements and choose according to the brands size chart guidelines. If you are able to go to a store to purchase the life jacket you will be able to take your dog along with you to be sure the fit is correct.

Each time you head into the water you need to make sure that all straps are correctly adjusted and are tucked away. You don’t want anything to get in the way of your dogs paws while they are paddling!

Activity and purpose

There are only a few life jackets that match every activity. Most are designed with an intended activity in mind.

Please ensure your dog is wearing a jacket that is best for what you want to be doing. Never take a dog out into open waters if they are only wearing a lightweight DFD intended for shallow waters.

Supervision always

It goes without saying. By always having your eye on your dog while they are swimming you are their lifeguard and can assist them immediately if they do have any difficulties.

Dog first-aid kits

It is a wise decision to have a basic first aid kit stowed away in your vehicle just in case of emergencies. This way, if you do encounter any accidents while you are exploring, then you can quickly patch your dog up before heading home or to the vet.

Wrapping Up: Safely Enjoy Your Next Watery Adventure with Your Dog

Now you know everything needed when it comes to getting a dog life jacket and staying safe while out on the water.

Stay safe and keep your dog comfortable no matter what canine aquatic adventures you have planned.

Warren Tsoi
Warren Tsoi

Editor - Warren is an avid waterman and conservationist who will take any chance to be outdoors. He believes the best way to protect our environment is to get people outside to appreciate nature.


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