Dog Life Jacket: Keep Your Best Pal As Safe As Possible!

A dog life jacket will make sure that your dog will always stay afloat on the water, no matter the situation

When you take your loyal companion with you on the water, you want to make sure he or she is safe, no matter what happens to your SUP, kayak / canoe, boat or other vessel. Your dog is always willing to look out for your safety and now you can do a little something in return by returning the favor.

I, myself love dogs, although unfortunately, I don’t have one. My girlfriend and I spend too much time working to take in a pet right now. I regularly visit my sister though, so I can cuddle her dog and play with it. If I have a family of my own, a dog will definitely be a part of it, I can’t wait!

But when this time comes I’m sure I will not be done with water sports yet and I will surely take my future dog along on the water. I will definitely equip him with a dog life jacket, for his safety and my peace of mind.

Dog Life Jacket on dog
What a beautiful animal, you’d want to make sure to keep it safe anywhere on the water with a dog life jacket

Dog Life Jacket: Why is it necessary?

Most dogs can swim very well, so why is a dog life jacket necessary? You yourself can probably also swim very well, otherwise you wouldn’t get out on the water on your paddle board or boat. But should something happen on the water, it might mean you have to swim for a long time and possible even while injured.

For a dog this is just as exhausting as it is for you. You would also wear a life vest for safety or atleast take along a Restube, so why wouldn’t you strap a dog life jacket on him to keep him afloat without getting exhausted? The chances for a dog to swim to safety are just as big as yours, so he deserves equal treatment.

Essentially all dogs that you take out on the water should wear a dog life jacket, but for certain breeds this is extra important. These are dogs that have low body fat (less buoyancy), older dogs and dogs with known health problems.

Dog Life Jacket
A dog life jacket does not interfere with playing, so why wouldn’t you put it on?

Dog Life Jacket: When do you use it?

As I have said you use a dog life jacket in basically every activity in which you take your dog along on the water. Just like humans, dogs can also get tired and drown. I have even read that about 5.000 pets drown in pools every year, doesn’t it make you sad just hearing that?

And if this can already happen in a pool, then on the bigger and wilder waters you want to be completely sure that your best friend is as safe as possible. Whenever you go out most dogs just want one thing: to stay as close to you as possible. At any cost, because they are such a loyal buddy. Then it is your task to keep him safe in all circumstances.

Dog Life Jacket: Keep Your Best Pal As Safe As Possible! 1
A dog life jacket also turns your dog into a great vessel for cats

Whether you’re going out for Stand Up Paddling, kayaking, surfing, going out with a boat or whichever other activity on the water, ensure that your dog is wearing a dog life jacket so he will not get over exhausted during swimming.

A dog life jacket is also an ideal tool to get your dog used to the water for the first time. Not all breeds are equally fond of water or have swum before, especially if you don’t live near water at all.

The extra buoyancy offers them a feeling of safety. Often a dog life jacket also has a handy grip on the back, so you can easily lift the dog out of the water when something goes wrong.

Dog Life Jacket: Keep Your Best Pal As Safe As Possible! 2
Look at him go!

Dog Life Jacket: what should you pay attention to?

When you start looking for a dog life jacket, you will notice that there are a lot more dog life jackets in the market then you would initially think. If you don’t have any overview of these available life jackets it can be exhausting to find the right life jacket for your dog.

That’s why below I will give you a few tips for things you have to pay attention to when purchasing a life jacket for your dog, so that your four-legged friend is as safe as possible.

Buoyancy dog life jacket

The most important aspect of a dog life jacket is of course the buoyancy, so that your dog does not sink with the life jacket on. The best life jackets have both a floating layer under the belly as well as above and on the sides. Preferably also extra buoyancy at the neck, so that the dog’s head always stays above water.

Dog life jacket pool
Practice with the dog in a swimming pool with a dog life jacket before you go into the wild waters with it

Color dog life jacket

A bright color will make the dog easier to find and also makes it more visible for boats or other water sports enthusiasts. Reflective material for extra visibility is an advantage.

Hand grip dog life jacket

I mentioned it a moment ago, but a hand grip is also a thing you’d like to have on your life jacket. This way you can lift the dog when needed, after all it is hard to lift your dog from your boat or paddle board because you cannot get your arms under the dog to lift him.

Dog life jacket boat
A dog life jacket often has a handy hand grip. Wouldn’t you just give anything to keep this cutie safe?

Size and fit dog life jacket

Of course the dog life jacket needs to have the right size and fit well around the body of your dog. Dog life jackets are available in different sizes, check out the size chart for the particular life jacket and measure the length and width of your dog. The dog life jacket must be comfortable, so the dog can sit or lie down without any problems.

Choose the right size, so the dog life jacket is not too tight, but also not so loose that if could fall off or which makes it impossible to lift the dog with the grip handle. Even though that second thing is not always possible when you have a really giant dog. 😉

Dog Life Jacket: Keep Your Best Pal As Safe As Possible! 3
A bit of dry practice with your dog life jacket

Dog Life Jacket: how to measure the size?

As you will see later, different manufacturers use different sizes for dog life jackets. How can you best measure these sizes and which parts of the body of the dog are important to measure. Below you will find a summary of how to properly measure the size of your dog.

  • Chest size: Fold a measuring tape around the widest part of the breast (often right behind the front legs) and note the size of this. Most dog life jackets use this number to determine the size of the jacket.

  • Neck size: This is not often asked when buying a dog life jacket, but just in case: measure the size of the lower part of the neck, that is close to the shoulders.

  • Back length: You can measure the back length from the part where the neck meets the shoulders up until about 2 inches from the tail.

  • Weight: Sometimes the weight of the dog is also asked, this has to do with the buoyancy and the carrying capacity of the grip handle. Take your dog in your arms and stand on the scale together, then deduct your own weight from the total and you know the weight of your dog.
Dog life jacket surfing
Some dogs can really enjoy all of your surfing adventures

Dog Life Jacket: the best dog life jackets

Let’s move on to choosing the best dog life jackets. Now you know why a life jacket is necessary for your dog and what to look out for when choosing a dog life jacket.

Below I’ll give you some good options, so you don’t have to compare all the dog life jackets on the whole internet yourself. See which one appeals most to you and get one today if you are planning to take your dog out on the water, safety always comes first!

Best Dog Life Jacket: Ruffwear Float Coat

Ruffwear-Floatcoat-Dog Life Jacket

The Ruffwear Float Coat is not the cheapest option, but by far the best dog life jacket available on the market. You can see the very high quality of the woven nylon and the soft inside of floating foam.

Extra buoyancy under the belly and at the neck, well fastened with the double strap. The logo and white stripes are reflective for better visibility when it gets dark. The hand grip is extra firm and will not tear easily, on cheaper models this is often the weakest part.

This dog life jacket is available in no less than 6 different fun colors, so you can always find something that suits you and your dog. The design is finished in such a way that you don’t have any loose straps next to it, so the dog can’t get stuck anywhere.

Ruffwear-Floatcoat-Dog Life Jacket
The Ruffwear Float Coat dog life jacket in action

If you really want the very best for your dog and have a bigger budget for it then the Ruffwear Float Coat is definitely your best choice.

Size table for the Ruffwear Float Coat:

SizeDog size (Widest part of the chest)
XX-Small33 – 43 cm
X-Small43 – 56 cm
Small56 – 69 cm
Medium69 – 81 cm
Large81 – 91 cm
X-Large91 – 107 cm

Below I will show you some different option for different countries, because stocks and prices vary and you don’t want to run into huge importing costs when getting it from another country. Of course you will still want to get the best deal possible for this amazing dog life jacket!

Budget option: Outward Hound Dog Life Jacket


For the budget option I choose the Outward Hound dog life jacket. This dog life jacket has all the necessary features for a good dog life jacket and is really inexpensive (the smallest size is $20, the biggest one is $45).

If you look at the life jacket you can see immediately that it offers quite a bit for this low price. The double belt around the belly, including extra buoyancy. The neck is also covered with a thick padding that always keeps the dog’s head above water.

The Outward Hound life vest is suitable for every dog

The bright orange color with extra reflection strips on the top makes it complete, with of course the handy hand grip on the back of the dog.

The size table for the Outward Hound dog life jacket is as follows:
Size XS -> dogs with a chest size of 28 – 39 cm (11″ – 15″)
Size S -> dogs with a chest size of 40 – 51 cm (16″ – 20″)
Size M -> dogs with a chest size of 52 – 69 cm (21″ – 27″)
Size L -> dogs with a chest size of 70 – 81 cm (28″ – 32″)
Size XL -> dogs with a chest size of 82 – 112 cm (33″ – 44″)

In the US this dog life vest has over 11.000 reviews on Amazon, of which 89% gives it 4 or 5 stars. It is a very popular life jacket that you can surely rely on with this large of a testing group.

Funny options dog life jacket

Let me say first of all that the safety of your dog is the most important thing, but why shouldn’t safety also be fun? For the price of the budget option above, or sometimes even less, you can buy a very nice dog life jacket with a funny design.

A pink fish or a pink outfit with wings for your sweet girl? Check it out! A shark fin to scare other water sports enthusiasts and swimmers should not be missing from this list. As well as the blue comb on top and the funny Nemo print on top of the life jacket.

All these outfits have a good shape, offer extra buoyancy in the places where it is needed and also look very funny. You can’t expect the quality of a Ruffwear at this price, but they certainly keep your dog safe and comfortable.

Dog Life Jacket: Keep Your Best Pal As Safe As Possible! 4
If your dog doesn’t have a private dolphin, get a sharks fin instead

Below I put them in a clear list, so you can easily look at the design that appeals to you the most (you can choose the size on the page of the models concerned):

Dog Life Jacket: Safety tips

Putting on your dog’s life jacket is a big step in the right direction, but of course you’re not there yet. There are a number of things you should think about with regard to the dog life vest, so that it can also be used optimally.

Dog life jacket: Letting your dog get used to the dog life jacket

If your dog has never worn a dog life jacket before, you cannot just put this on him and expect the dog to like this. First teach the dog to getting used to the dog life jacket and try to connect positive associations to this in the process.

Let him sniff the dog life jacket and give him a treat as a reward, so he will see the dog life vest as a positive thing. At the moment that the dog gets used to the vest, try putting it on him carefully and see how it goes.

First for just a few minutes, loosely on top of the dog without putting the straps around him. Reward the dog with a treat again for wearing the life vest. Move on a bit further every time, by clicking in the straps and letting the dog wear the life vest for a longer period.

Then try to make it longer and longer every time, until the dog is used to wearing the dog life jacket for a longer period. If your dog wants to wear the dog life jacket himself it is a lot safer and easier to go out on the water with it!

Dog life jacket adventures
Already looking forward to the next water adventures with a handy dog life jacket

Dog Life Jacket: making sure the straps are fine

Before your dog goes into the water you need to make sure that the straps of the dog’s life jacket are securely fastened so that it can’t move while swimming. If it is too loose the dog can be obstructed during swimming and no longer move naturally.

If it is too tight, it can become difficult to breathe and movements are hindered in another way. You want to attach the straps just right, so that just two fingers can get in between.

Before you go on the water, always check that all the straps are tight and clicked into place so that they can’t suddenly come loose.

Dog life jacket: what is the purpose of the trip?

Do you go in really deep water, for example far out to sea, or do you stay near the coast? If you go further out on the water I would strongly recommend you to buy the aforementioned Ruffwear Float Coat, which is made of the best material and has the most buoyancy.

The funny life jackets and the budget dog life jacket I would especially recommend for less deep waters and if you stay closer to the coast. The needs for a dog life jacket are different and a big investment is less necessary at that moment.

Dog life jacket pink
This lady has been dressed in style for her coming swimming adventures!

Dog Life Jacket: Never let your dog swim unsupervised

Even if you have the most beautiful and expensive life jacket, never let your dog swim unsupervised, no matter what. A dog life jacket prevents many problems, but the dog can always end up in a situation that a life jacket alone cannot solve.

Make sure that your dog does not drift away due to a strong current or swim too close to sharp rocks, so that he cannot hurt himself.

Therefore, go to open water, where he can swim to his heart’s content without encountering any obstacles. But even if the dog goes into the pool in the garden, always keep an eye out and be prepared to help in emergencies.


Frequently Asked Questions Dog Life Jacket

Should dogs always wear a dog life jacket?

If you go out on the water with a paddle board, boat or any other vessel you should make sure your dog is wearing a dog life jacket. Are you at a pool or near the coast of a sea or river, then it is absolutely recommended, but not mandatory.

How should a dog life jacket be worn?

Basically a dog life jacket should be worn just like a life jacket for humans. It should be tight enough so it doesn’t turn or twist in the water, but comfortable enough to not restrict or hurt the dog.

What does a dog life jacket cost?

There are very big differences in price and quality and this also depends on the size of the dog life jacket that you need. Cheaper models are available around $20/$30, the really nice and good models cost around $80 to $90.

How can I let my dog get used to a dog life jacket?

It is quite easy to let your dog get used to a dog life jacket. Put the vest in the living room, let the dog sniff it and check it out, possibly give him a few treats for a positive connection to the life jacket. Put the life jacket on carefully for just a few minutes. Make this longer every time, until your dog is ready to wear the life jacket for a longer period at once.

Dog life jacket water
Such cutie you’ll want to keep safe anywhere and any time with a dog life jacket!

Conclusion Dog Life Jacket

A dog life jacket is necessary for everyone that wants to go on the water together with their dog, for people who visit the coast and let their dog swim in the water it is also recommended to have the dog wear a life jacket, just for the extra safety.

Your dog is a very valuable family member that you want to keep safe at any cost, while the dog is mostly occupied with staying near you and does not think of the consequences this could have. Because a dog life jacket does not have to be expensive and does not hinder your dog from sitting or lying down, there are no reasons why you should not use a dog life jacket when going to the water.

Check out the above tips and models, measure your dog well and pick the dog life jacket that you like and that you trust. Always make sure you are safe on the water yourself, so you and your loyal companion can fully enjoy your adventure together without having to worry.

Have a lot of fun of the water with your best buddy!

Do you already have a dog life jacket for your dog? How do you like it and which model do you have? If not, why not and in which model would you be interested? Let me know in the comments, I’m looking forward to your reactions!

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One response to “Dog Life Jacket: Keep Your Best Pal As Safe As Possible!”

  1. Going out with my best friend Spike is so great, I can’t imagine having a more fun time outside. It took a while to get him used to the paddle board and the life vest, but now he totally loves it!

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Review written by: Tom

Hi! My name is Tom. During the year I try to be on a paddle board as much as possible. By reading this blog you'll stay updated on everything I test on the water :)