We all know that dogs are natural swimmers, but even the best swimmers still need help in the water from time to time. If you have a dog that comes near water with you and you want to keep them safe, investing in a dog life vest is the best thing you can do for their protection and comfort.
Dog life vests are ideal for pets who spend time around the water, whether it’s on a boat, fishing, or just having fun. Just as we protect ourselves and our families with their own flotation devices, so too do our dogs need this same level of care, and it’s a simple investment we can use to protect their lives.
Shopping for canine life jackets is a little unique when compared to flotation devices for adults. There are additional features you’ll need to consider and a new approach to take.
With this comprehensive buying guide, we can show you exactly what to look for, how to match a dog PFD to your own pet, and which products are the top rated on the market at the moment.
Our dogs are our best friends, and if you’re like most dog owners you probably take yours with you wherever you go. A dog life vest can keep them protected and give you peace of mind so they can accompany you on even more adventures while staying safe in the process.
Best Dog Life Vest
Our Top Picks
No matter what breed of dog you have or their skill level when it comes to swimming, there are now plenty of different styles of dog life jackets to choose from. These are our recommendations for the top-rated life vests that customers loved because of quality, ease of use, and price.
Check out our winners for the dog life jacket to steer you in the right direction when making this important investment for your pet.
Winner: Ruffwear K9 Float Coat
Most dog owners treat their pets as if they were part of the family, and if this sounds like you then you’ll only want the highest quality and most comfortable life jacket for yours.
The Ruffwear K9 Float Coat is a consistently top-rated dog life jacket that ticks all of the boxes for safety, practicality, and efficiency. This dog life vest was made for all occasions.
Dogs that like to play in the lake all day will get help to stay afloat in the right position without getting tired, and those who come along on the boat or other tricky situations will be protected with their own flotation device.
Even for dogs with sensitive skin or those who don’t like wearing clothing or garments like these, they’ll barely notice a thing and will proudly walk around with their new Ruffwear K9 Float Coat. There are also three cool colors to choose from so you can match their style even more closely.
Some customers believed that the vest didn’t keep their dog as buoyant as they liked, so if your pooch needs extra help you might want more from a jacket. However, most customers were thrilled with the foam panels and how they managed to comfortably keep their dogs head out of the water while still allowing them to paddle as naturally as possible.
This jacket also features a handle so you can easily retrieve your pup from the water in an emergency, or help them get into and out of it as needed. It’s been built strong so even larger dogs using the extra large sizing will still be able to be retrieved. There are also side buckles for attaching a lead or other things, making it a pretty versatile device.
When it comes to a practical and well-made flotation device for dogs that has it all, the Ruffwear K9 Float Coat is our top pick. It’s reflective, packed full of safety features, comfortable to wear, and will allow them to keep their natural swimming position, so it truly has it all. If you’re able to spend a little extra to get the best for your dog, this is the way to go.
Runner-Up: Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket
We want to do whatever we can for our pets, but if you don’t have a huge budget to spend on a life jacket for your dog then you might be torn.
Thankfully, the Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket is a high-quality flotation device that costs around half of what others do, but it’s still got all of the features that you want.
According to customers, the sizing runs small on the Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket so keep that in mind.
They range from extra small to large so there aren’t as many options as other brands either.
The best advice that previous customers had was to order the next size up and make adjustments as needed, rather than try and squeeze them into something that didn’t fit.
This dog life jacket uses a combination of Velcro and buckles to secure your dog in and you’re able to adjust it as needed. Make sure you look at their guidelines for the dog breeds and what would fit, as well as learning how to secure it properly.
You can also use the handle to retrieve your dog from the water, although it might not be as effective with larger animals.
Vivaglory has put an extra 50 percent of flotation material within this jacket. If you’ve tried other brands and wished that your dog could hold their head out of the water higher then this will be perfect for you. However, with this extra flotation, it does remove some of their natural swimming ability and can take them some time to get used to.
Although it’s incredibly cheaper than others on the market, the Vivaglory PFD is still well made. It uses a special sports material that’s passed safety standards and also features reflective materials so you can spot your dog easily.
Even swimming in darker conditions won’t be a hassle thanks to the standout materials used on this jacket. Some people have noticed rips after a few months and while this won’t affect the buoyancy it’s something to keep an eye on.
This is the perfect entry level dog vest for people wanting to test the waters and see what suits their dog. The Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket is incredibly affordable, does an amazing job of keeping your dog afloat, and will give you the peace of mind you’re looking for whenever you take your pet out on the water with you.
Alternative: Outward Hound Granby Life Jacket
If you’re after a mid-range dog life jacket or puppy life jackets that are better for smaller breeds, the Outward Hound Granby Life Jacket is a great pick.
With a low price but less of a range for larger dogs, this is the perfect choice for people who want floatation but have a smaller dog to fit.
Their range runs from extra small to extra large but some people have found the larger sizes still aren’t the right fit.
You can use their sizing guide to see what works but after reading the reviews it seemed even larger dogs had problems getting comfortable.
Therefore, it’s probably only ideal for medium and small breeds. There are a couple of design flaws in this life jacket that make it not as good as the others we’ve reviewed. Firstly, the material used isn’t as safe as the others and some people may be cautious about using it.
Secondly, the leg holes don’t seem to correspond with the rest of the jacket body and some people have found they are a little tight. If you own a dog with large legs this probably won’t be a good fit.
These issues aside, there’s plenty to love about the Outward Hound Life Jacket. The best feature is their double handle which has been stitched into the rest of the jacket. With two handles you’ll get a better grip and because they’ve been stitched as one part of material there’s no risk of ripping, even when lifting a heavier pet.
The vest only comes in bright orange, but this orange helps a lot with visibility. Being able to see your dog in the water is a huge benefit and something that other brands of PFDs for dogs have failed to do. those wanting a little more color in their design, you can choose the fun fish style that still makes use of the brightness with the orange.
Your dog will stay afloat with foam panels that have been sewed into the sides and many customers thought it was the perfect level of flotation. Their dogs were able to keep their heads above water but also paddle as naturally as they wanted, so it seems to be the perfect in between.
As long as you don’t have a larger breed of dog, there’s nothing wrong with the Outward Hound Dog Life Vest. It’s perfect in terms of buoyancy and comfort, and although there are a few minor design flaws, your dog will love getting into the water with this amazing life vest.
Do You Need A Dog Life Vest?
Owning a dog life vest might seem like a bizarre concept for those who have never had one. However, when you consider how often we take our dogs into or near the water, it makes sense to have this one piece of safety gear on hand.
Dogs that are good swimmers may still need help from time to time. If you take your dog around strong currents or in freshwater rapids, even the best swimmers will still struggle to stay afloat. Likewise, if they spend hours in the water and don’t want to get out and miss the fun, they will need help not to use up all of their energy.
Dogs that are lacking somewhat in their swimming skills will benefit most from these flotation devices. They can let them play comfortably in the water or keep them protected when they’re around open water so you have peace of mind as well.
These vests are designed to let them swim in their natural position but provide a boost of buoyancy, so it won’t feel uncomfortable for them.
No matter how much time you and your dog spend in the water or whether you think their swimming skills are up to scratch, this is a must-have for pet owners. With a dog life jacket on them, you can relax and let them enjoy the fun in the water and be assured that your best friend is totally protected.
The Features To Look For When Choosing A Dog Life Jacket
When you think about buying a life vest for your children or even one for yourself, there are a few things you have to consider. Just as you’d take time with this process getting it right, so too do you have to when it comes to your dog’s life vest.
The features of a dog flotation device differ somewhat to those made for humans, so check these things off when you’re searching for the best one.
Size Of Your Dog
The most important thing when buying a PFD is to match the sizing, otherwise, it won’t help you float at all. This is true for dogs as well and it’s why each brand has their own size guide to get the right fit.
Consider not only the breed of your dog but their weight, body shape, and their height when making your choice. See what other customers have said about the sizing as some may run large or small.
Frequency Of Use
How often you’ll be using your dog vest is also an important factor. Those who use them rarely can probably spend a little less for something basic, compared to people who often take their dogs in the water and want something more durable.
Most dog life jackets are made with the same types of materials, like nylon or vinyl used on the outside and a flotation material inside. You need something that can withstand the water, keep your dog afloat, but also account for their sensitive skin or allergies if needed. The material should be brightly colored for better visibility in the water.
Some dog vests are more adjustable than others, and this could be in the form of buckles, straps, and Velcro. If you think you’ll need to change the size or are unsure if it will fit, choose one that gives you more options when it comes to this.
Think about your own dog and their personal preferences when choosing a vest. For animals who have never worn harnesses or vests before, you’ll want one that is comfortable and non-restrictive. Dogs who are used to wearing such devices can usually adapt to any style without issue.
Keeping your dog safe on the water is part of being a responsible owner, so make sure the life jacket allows for this. Retrieval handles, buckles, and reflective strips are just a few features you might want to consider in a dog life vest for added safety.
There are varying degrees of buoyancy available in dog life jackets. Some are minor to help good swimmers stay afloat and others have serious flotation capabilities for those that need a lot of assistance in the water.
Keeping Your Best Friend Safe Near The Water
Even the best swimmers need help from time to time, and our dogs are no exception. We want to do whatever we can to keep our pets safe and ensure that they don’t miss out on any adventures with us, and having their very own dog flotation device lets you do just that.
Choosing the best dog life vest is a matter of matching the features it offers to your dog and there’s rarely a one size fits all approach. This is a very personal product that must meet their specifications otherwise it simply won’t perform as you need it to.
With a dog vest on your best friend, you’ll feel comfortable taking them to the lake for a swim, bringing them along on a fishing trip, or simply playing by the water on the weekend. Just as we keep our family and loved ones protected from the water, so too do our dogs deserve the same level of care.