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If you love water sports like us or wanted to encourage your puppy to swim, then you will want to consider a life jacket for dogs.
Even the most enthusiastic swimmers can get tired, fall off the boat or encounter surprising rapids or strong currents. By wearing a life jacket, your dog will be in a better position to handle these situations without accidents.
I’ve tried a handful of dog life jackets over the years and compiled a list of my best photos.
The best life jackets for dogs
1. Fully adjustable neck strap
2. Removable cleaning foam
1. Available in several bright colors
2. Print the screen on the entire jacket
3. Zippered storage pocket
1. No padding under the abdomen
Life jacket Astral Bird Dog
2. Available in bright colors
1. Adjust the top collar
Do Dogs Really Need Life Jackets?
If you do water sports, then it is a wise idea to consider a life jacket for your dog. Like humans, they are designed to keep your dog afloat in the event of a sudden fall from the boat or from your comb board.
They are especially important if you bring your dog rafting or rowing in rapids. Even if your dog is a strong swimmer, rapids make swimming exponentially more difficult and a life jacket will help keep your dog above water.
In addition, some breeds are better able to swim than others due to the shape and size of their body. While laboratories or Portuguese Water Dogs are natural swimmers, other breeds such as greyhounds or brachycephalic dogs, along with older pups, will appreciate the extra buoyancy to help them stay afloat and swim for longer periods without fatigue.
Finally, they are great for dogs who are not keen on water or who just need some confidence to get their feet wet (intended for word play;). The life jacket can give them that confidence and help them learn how to swim safely.
When should your dog wear a life jacket?
If you’re playing with your dog in the water or just letting him swim in a calm lake or river, you probably don’t need a life jacket, but if you’re near fast-moving water, some kind of craft, or your dog doesn’t know how to swim, then the life jacket can protect them.
Here are some cases in which I would recommend the use of a life jacket for dogs:
Rowing Rowing Kayaking Canoeing White water rafting River sailing Boating Playing near stormy waters When your dog is learning to swim
How should a life jacket for dogs fit?
Your dog’s life jacket should fit similarly to the way a harness or collar would fit. You are looking for a snug fit, but you should still be able to slide two fingers under the straps. Be sure to check both the abdomen and the neck / chest area.
I like to test the fit by grabbing my dog by the handle on land to make sure he’s not swimming in his jacket (another pun!). If you feel too loose when you take them by the handle, this is an indication that you may need to make some adjustments.
Finally, get your dog to swim and notice if the jacket holds his head well enough above the water.
Features to look for in a dog life jacket
The quality dog life jacket will include a number of features that allow unlimited swimming, ease of dressing and secure fit, among other design elements.
Here is what I personally look for and recommend:
Ergonomic fit – Your dog should be able to move freely and swim naturally, without restrictions, while wearing a life jacket. If the jacket does not fit properly and the dog needs to adjust his gait, this can lead to discomfort and injury.
Softer, more flexible dog life jackets will allow this unlimited movement without compromising buoyancy.
Bouyancy – Of course, the whole point of a dog life jacket is to keep them afloat! Ideally, you want a life jacket that includes flotation materials on the abdomen and chest / under the neck to keep them easier over the water.
Handle – If your dog jumps off your paddle or gets out of your boat to swim or fall into the water, you will want a handle to help him get back on. No matter how much he tries to get back on my board without help, Sitka can’t come back without help (not to mention, it reduces the damage from scratches).
Visibility – Look for a rescue vest for dogs, which is available in a bright color and has a reflective material to easily spot your dog in the water. One of the main reasons people drown in situations on board is that their crew loses sight of them. If you can’t see your dog, you can’t help it.
Multiple adjustment points – Because dogs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but equipment is only available in a few sizes, adjustment points are key to fitting your dog properly. I’m looking for adjustment points in the abdomen and around the collar. Measure twice and buy according to the manufacturer’s offers.
The most popular life jackets for dogs
The jackets listed below include the features I mentioned above and are made by reputable brands that produce high quality products. I have personally used two of the dog life jackets below and have used other products from each of the brands mentioned.
The price ranges from about $ 50 to $ 85, so pick what fits your budget, or buy one on sale off-season. 😉
Life jacket Kurgo Surf ‘n Turf Dog – The one I personally use
This is the jacket I have been using for years with several of my dogs of different sizes. Kurgo Surf ‘n Turf is easily adjustable to fit different body sizes of the dog, and super easy to put on, thanks to the adjustable front velcro strap that opens completely.
Two adjustable side straps create a snug fit around your dog’s belly, and two handles allow you to easily lift your dog out of the water and back onto the board or boat.
The jacket is lined with reflective tubes so you can easily spot your dog at night and has two metal d-rings to attach to a leash if needed (one of which includes the usual Kurgo bottle opener!)
If you just want to use the vest as an insulating layer for cooler nights at camp, you can remove the sailing device. The jacket is machine washable without lining.
Ruatwear Float Coat – the best jacket in general
I have used Ruffwear Float Coat with dogs in the past and I think it is a great jacket! The latest models are available in a variety of bright colors that are not only fun, but also help you keep a good eye on your dog when in the water.
The soft and flexible inner layer of foam keeps it comfortable for your puppy, and the protected waists and buckles on the chest keep the coat securely in place.
A low profile handle is available when you need to lift your dog out of the water, and the fabric includes a 360 ° view printed on the screen. Float Coat includes durable materials such as BlueSign-approved fabric and PVC-free Gaia foam.
Rescue vest for dogs NRS CFD-the best budget option
NRS is a well-known and respected brand in the water sports industry. Based in Moscow, ID, my brother is a big fan who went to the University of Idaho.
The strong Cordura 1000 denier shell is strong and can last for years. Like the others, this jacket has an upper handle to help lift your dog on the boat and includes reflective tubes for easy visibility in low light.
The back of the jacket includes a zippered pocket for storing a strap or treats (although I’m not sure the pocket is waterproof).
I’m not a fan of the lack of padding on the dog’s belly, however. The straps have direct contact with the abdomen, which can lead to rubbing, although I did not see any complaints about this in the reviews.
Astral Bird Dog Life Jacket – The jacket I think would be my best choice, but I have to test!
Astral is another brand like NRS, which is well known in the water sports industry and makes several items for dogs, including life jackets (my personal life jacket is made by Astral).
The Bird Dog life jacket was presented in Outside magazine as the best dog equipment for 2018.
The 500 denier Cordura fabric is very resistant to scratches and abrasions. Dogs can swim in a natural position thanks to the ergonomic design, which does not restrict movement.
Strap strap means that the jacket can be doubled like belts when needed, and also includes a handle for easy grip.
I love Astral for their commitment to creating completely PVC-free products and their goal of reusing as much waste as possible.
Reviews say that this jacket provides a more personalized fit than other brands and is ideal in heavy water.
EZY Dog DFD X2 Boost – The best ergonomic fit
Now, in its second iteration, the EZY Dog DFD offers superior flotation with an ergonomic shape. The latest model distributes the foam more evenly to ensure better buoyancy. Nylon from 1680 denier, this is one of the strongest jackets on this list.
EZY Dog has designed this jacket with an adjustable collar on top, compared to the side ones presented to the others in this list. The brand says it only needs to be adjusted once and keeps the part of the collar in place.