Contents of Article
- What is the Best Life Vest for A Dog?
- Tips On Buying A Life Jacket That Fits your Dog
- The Best Life Jackets for Dogs
- Another Highly Recommended Life Vest for Dogs:
- What To Look For In A Good Life Jacket for Dogs
- Dog Life Jacket and Vest Reviews
- 7 Best Life Jackets and PFD Vests for Your Dog
Many dog owners love to take their four-legged friends everywhere they go with them. They’re part of the family for many people, and the idea of leaving them out of an activity they’d probably enjoy is unthinkable.
With a great dog life vest (or even a puppy life vest) your little pooch can enjoy the open water with you in complete safety. Maybe your dog loves to fetch his favorite floating toy, enjoys sunbathing by the pool or on your boat, or just loves to sit by the water and relax. Regardless of what your chosen aquatic activity is, having your dog alongside you is an amazing experience that they’re sure to enjoy just as much as you (or even more). Just like any product you purchase for your dog, you want to do your research and choose the best one.
Today we are going to take a look at what makes a good vest, disclose a few buying tips, and review 7 of the best dog life jackets on the market.
Let’s get started.
What is the Best Life Vest for A Dog?
- Outward Hound PupSaver Neoprene Life Vest for Dogs
- Outward Hound PupSaver Ripstop Dog Life Jacket By Outward Hound
- KONG AquaPro Dog Flotation Vest By KONG
- Paws Aboard Pink Polka Dot Dog Life Jacket
- KONG AquaFloat Dog Flotation Vest
- Paws Aboard Lifeguard Neoprene Dog Life Jacket
- EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device Life Jacket
Tips On Buying A Life Jacket That Fits your Dog
Just like with human life jackets, a dog life jacket is only going to keep your pooch safe if it fits properly. Ensuring you get a product that is the perfect fit is more important than deciding on which model or brand you should buy.
Do not cut corners with this.
The different styles of life jacket on the market have different fitment guides. Some are closed pieces that wrap around the entirety of your dog’s body, and others use straps to stay in place.
As such, it would be foolish (and dangerous) for us to try and detail all the different sizing methodologies here. What we recommend is that you look at the sizing guide provided by the manufacturer (don’t use a general guide from a random website) and follow their instructions.
Most of the time this will involve pulling out a tape measure and sizing up your dog. It can be tempting for some people to just eyeball it and guess, but we’re talking about the safety of your dog here. It could literally mean the difference between life and death.
Take the 5 minutes required to do it properly and measure them instead.
The Best Life Jackets for Dogs
Key Features :
- Pro – Very comfortable
- Pro – Bright orange color
- Pro – Reflector strips
- Pro – Durable handles
Outward Hound PupSaver Neoprene Life Vest for Dogs
Outward Hound PupSaver Neoprene Life Vest for Dogs is a great all-around choice with its bright orange color, reflective strips, and durable handles. It’s also very comfortable.
Best Overall Dog Life Jacket
If you’re looking for a great all-rounder life jacket that’s safe, secure, and made by a great brand then this is certainly one to add to your shortlist. It’s available in two sizes (but it’s not suitable for small dogs) and it comes in a super bright orange color.
It’s got two thick and durable handles, it’s got super thick buckles / durable straps, and it’s got little reflective strips that will help with locating your pooch in low light conditions. The neck support is sturdy and basically makes it almost impossible for your dog’s head to dip below the water (unless they actually try).
Perhaps most importantly this is an exceptionally comfortable product that your pooch will enjoy wearing. It’s no use having a life jacket if they’re going to spend most of their time trying to take it off.
Key Features :
- Exceptional value for money
- Bright orange color
- Reflector strips
- Durable handles
Outward Hound PupSaver Ripstop Dog Life Jacket By Outward Hound
Outward Hound PupSaver Ripstop Dog Life Jacket By Outward Hound is a great life jacket at an affordable price. It comes in a bright orange color and has reflector strips and durable handles. It also has great neck support.
Best Cheap Life Jacket for Dogs
As it stands this product is currently the best value dog life jacket on the market. It’s usually priced at around $35, but it’s been on sale for just $6 now for quite some time. It’s a premium quality product that’s been heavily discounted, and if you’re quick – you can get a super safe bargain.
It’s got two strong durable handles located by the head and the rear of your dog that are exceptionally thick and will be able to withstand the weight of even the largest pooches. The strong straps and thick buckles that reach around the belly of your dog and secure the jacket in place are about as sturdy as they get.
Combine this with the respectable brand name, the super bright orange color, the neck support, and the reflective strips – and it’s easy to see why we highly recommend it.
Key Features :
- Great brand
- Long rescue leash
- Unique buoyancy design
- Strobe light pocket
KONG AquaPro Dog Flotation Vest By KONG
KONG AquaPro Dog Flotation Vest By KONG is a great choice for a life jacket for your pup. KONG is a really popular reputable brand and this jacket has a unique buoyancy design, a strobe light pocket, and a long rescue leash.
Best Life Jacket for Puppies
The manufacturer of this product, KONG, needs no introduction. They make some of the highest quality pet clothing, toys, and supplies on the planet. As you’d expect, this product lives up to the high standards many dog owners have come to demand from the brand. It’s a two-tone life jacket that has a colored reflective area on the top and is grey on the side. Ideally, we’d like to see the entire thing brightly colored, but in practical terms, this strip is enough.
This product takes a unique approach to head support that we really like. Instead of creating a separate section they have calibrated the buoyancy of the jacket to make the head of your dog naturally stay above water. We also really like the extra long rescue handle that makes reaching over to get your pooch out of the water much easier. The strobe light pocket on the side is a nice finishing touch which provides owners with the option of another layer of visibility if desired (strobe light not included).
Key Features :
- Bright color
- Reflector strips
- Mesh underbelly
Paws Aboard Pink Polka Dot Dog Life Jacket
Paws Aboard Pink Polka Dot Dog Life Jacket is an adorable option that is not only comfortable for your dog, but functional, too. It has reflector strips and a mesh underbelly and comes in a bright color.
Best Stylish Dog Life Jacket
We know that we said earlier that life jackets are not meant to be fashion accessories, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be!
This amazing jacket from Paws Aboard provides superb safety in style with its stunning white and pink polka dot pattern. This bright color combined with the reflector strips on the solid durable straps will ensure you can spot your dog in all conditions.
The mesh underbelly section of this product is something that we really like, and we’re sure your pooch will love it too. It’s a breathable, comfortable material that’s super durable. The single handle on the top is less than ideal, and we’d like to see two separate ones.
But as it’s long and thick we’re happy to think that it’ll get the job done.
Key Features :
- Great brand
- Super bright color
- Comfortable to wear
- Durable Velcro
KONG AquaFloat Dog Flotation Vest
The KONG AquaFloat Dog Flotation Vest comes from a very reputable brand, is comfortable to wear, and has durable Velcro. It comes in a bright color, too.
Best Life Jacket for Small Dogs
This is the second KONG product on our list, and it’s perfectly suited to the needs of smaller dogs. Unlike the first KONG product we mentioned, this one is entirely covered in a bright pink (or green) luminous coloring. There’s no chance you’re going to lose your pooch in the water when they’re wearing something this noticeable.
It uses a similar buoyancy distribution system as the other KONG product on this list that manages to keep your dog’s head above water without a dedicated head support (although it does kind of have one).
The belly section is made from a durable mesh which closes with solid Velcro. It’s also got two strong straps on the side to ensure a slip-free snug fit. However, like the product above this vest only has one handle. As it’s designed for smaller lighter dogs, this isn’t a big problem – but again, more would have been better.
Key Features :
- Pro – Mesh underbelly
- Pro – Reflective strips
- Pro – Head support section
Paws Aboard Lifeguard Neoprene Dog Life Jacket
Paws Aboard Lifeguard Neoprene Dog Life Jacket has a mesh underbelly and reflective strips. It also has a head support section which is a great benefit if your dog ends up in the water.
Best Life Jackets for Large Dogs
This is the second Paws Aboard product on this list, and it’s just as good as the first one (if not better). It’s bright red in color for maximum visibility and it’s got large reflective strips that cover almost the entirety of the straps.
The mesh underbelly helps prevent heat exhaustion and it contains a durable layer of Velcro to ensure a snug fit. The buckles on the straps are exceptionally large (and strong) to ensure they can withstand the power of a large dog paddling hard. Finally, the head support section ensures that regardless of how tired your pooch gets, their head will not fall below the water line.
Another Highly Recommended Life Vest for Dogs:
We want to quickly mention one other product that didn’t quite make it on to the list above but are more than worthy of your consideration.
This life vest from EzyDog didn’t quite make our list, but is still a great option for your dog. It comes in 5 different sizes and it’s made from heavy-duty polyester and ultra-buoyant foam. Give this one a try for your boat-loving pet.
What To Look For In A Good Life Jacket for Dogs
When you’re picking a life jacket for your dog there are a few things that need to be taken into consideration. Let’s take a look at some of the most important points below.
The most important thing to consider about any life jacket is how buoyant it is. By their very nature, larger life jackets will be more buoyant than smaller ones. There’s no specific metric you need to be looking out for in terms of buoyancy (as it’s all calculated on size). As a rule, bigger dogs need more buoyancy, but they’ll already be wearing larger life jackets.
However, overall buoyancy is not the only thing you should be taking into account, you need to look at where the jacket is going to support the dog. While there are many different designs, the most important feature you should be looking out for is head support.
Some low-quality life jackets will not have any kind of head support built into them, they’ll just provide flotation strapped to the body of your dog. If you’ve got nothing else, then they’re better than nothing, but they’re far from ideal.
The problem with jackets that don’t have head support is one of fatigue. If you notice your dog going overboard you’ll be able to stop your boat (or stop paddling) and rescue them quickly. To be honest, in these situations most dogs would survive without a life jacket providing they can swim (Note: We don’t recommend this in the slightest).
However, what happens when your dog goes overboard and you don’t notice?
Just because a dog is wearing a life jacket doesn’t mean they’re not going to paddle. They simply don’t understand that there’s no need. You’ll be speeding away on whatever vessel you’re using and they’ll be paddling their heart out to try and catch up to you.
And when this happens they’re going to get tired, very tired.
While it may look reasonably effortless, a dog actually has to try to keep its head above water while swimming. They don’t naturally float like a duck with their head coincidentally above the water line.
After a while, they’re not going to be able to hold their head up anymore, and they’ll drown.
This is why any dog life jacket worth its salt will have an included head and neck support section. With these sections the way the jacket positions the dog in the water naturally keeps their head above the water line without requiring any effort at all on the dog’s part.
Luckily these jackets are pretty much the only kind you’ll be able to find on the market these days. But there are still a few out there without head support. If a brand doesn’t specifically mention head support in their marketing, be very careful about putting your dog’s life in their hands.
Once you’ve ensured that you have found a jacket that has adequate neck and head support you can then start looking at other less critical (but still extremely important) considerations. Coloring is one of them.
Picking a jacket with a bright color can literally mean the difference between life and death in some situations.
Let’s pick up with the hypothetical example we mentioned above where your dog has fallen into the water and you’ve not noticed immediately. If you’re on a boat you can be quite far away from where the dog entered the water by the time someone notices they’re gone.
In perfect conditions on a still lake or close to shore you’re probably going to be able to see your dog regardless of the color of their jacket. But what if something happens at dusk when the light is fading? What if visibility is poor and you can’t see into the distance that well? What if waves are periodically obstructing your vision?
By having a bright colored jacket you’ve got a much better chance of seeing them, and therefore potentially saving their life. There’s no reason not to get a brightly colored jacket, it’s a life jacket, not a fashion accessory.
We highly recommend you get the brightest one possible.
Once your dog has fallen in the water and you have made your way over to rescue them, the next thing you’ve got to do is get them back on your boat/kayak/paddleboard.
There’s a good chance at one point or another you’ve had to pick your dog up for some reason. Our four-legged friends are (usually) pure muscle, which means they’re much heavier than they look.
This is hard enough (for medium to large dogs) when you’re standing on dry land. But trying to do it while floating on a board (or reaching over the side of a boat) is a whole different ballgame.
Now for smaller dogs, this is less of an issue (but it’s still important). They’re lighter and much easier to bring back on board. But for bigger dogs, you’re going to need as many handles (and hands) as you can possibly get.
It’s also important to know that the handles are strong and are of a high quality. If the handles break, you’re going to be in a world of trouble (potentially with no way to get your dog out of the water).
Size and Fit
We already discussed size and fit at the start of this article, however, we just wanted to reiterate how important it is in this section again. Ensure that any product you’re thinking of buying has sizing information (and preferably a measuring guide) readily available.
We’ve already touched on the importance of the reliability of the handles on a dog’s life jacket, but other parts of the jacket need to be reliable too.
The durability of the straps on the life jacket is perhaps more important than the durability of the handles. The straps are what’s going to keep the jacket snug and secure around your dog while they are in the water. They’ve got to do their job under the stresses of your pooch thrashing around in a panic without the slightest bit of slippage.
Because if the straps slip, break, twist, or change in any way it could potentially be fatal.
When positioned correctly life jackets are lifesavers (the clue is in the name). But if they become loose or partly detached, then the buoyancy will be potentially pushing in a different place. This can make your dog have to work extremely hard to keep their head above water.
Check and double check the quality of the straps, and also check the durability and size of the connectors.
Do this before you buy the product, then do it when you receive it in the mail.
And be sure to check for damage every time you go out on the water.
Dog Life Jacket and Vest Reviews
So now we know what you need to be taking into account before you decide on any particular brand of dog life jacket. We take the safety of our four-legged friends very seriously on this site, which is why we’ve devoted a huge amount of time to this section.
Our already stringent review process essentially took twice as long as it usually does for an article of this size. We checked and double checked every product on this list against as many metrics as we can think of. We want you to be able to rest assured that every single one of the products below is more than worthy of being your dog’s last line of defense if they ever find themselves in open water.
We’d be more than happy to use any of these products to protect our own dogs, which also means we are more than happy to make these confident recommendations to you.
7 Best Life Jackets and PFD Vests for Your Dog
|Dog Life Jacket Comparison Table|
So there you have it, everything you ever needed to know about dog life jackets.
Above all else, our primary responsibility to our dogs is to ensure their safety at all times. They’ll happily jump on a boat or a paddleboard without a life vest on, they don’t understand the danger they’re potentially in.
They put their complete trust in you.
Please make sure that if you’re thinking about taking your dog out on the open water, that you buy them a life vest that is either from this list (or of a similar quality).
It could literally save their life.