Blog , Lifestyle and Entertainment

Should We Get Our Dog a Life Jacket?

Posted on Thursday, June 29, 2023
by AMAC, D.J. Wilson

Many senior citizens have pets as companions. In fact, it is estimated that at least 50% of older adults in the U.S. have pets, per PubMed Central. And ownership tends to peak in mid-life with nearly 70% of Americans having pets. Animals, particularly dogs and cats, are considered part of the family. Dogs go on many outings with their families. So, why not strive to protect them from accidents around water?

Some are asking…should we get our dog a life jacket?

Let’s find out more. The Weather Channel recently highlighted a story. It described how some dog breeds take to the water naturally, but others do not. They noted that pups and dogs with small legs may encounter difficulty swimming and can even struggle to float. To prevent accidents, small canines and those who have not mastered swimming should absolutely have life jackets.

Why are some reasons we should get our dog a life jacket?

Like some people who can’t swim well, pets can panic in the water. This is especially true for puppies or canines who are inexperienced. Thus, life jackets can be a lifesaver. Folks should consider swim life vests for pets who are:

  • Inexperienced
  • Afraid of water or lacking confidence
  • In a new environment near water
  • Not strong swimmers
  • Of small stature
  • Lack strength
  • Possessing small legs or short snouts (examples: dachshunds, pugs, bulldogs..)
  • Overweight or out of shape
  • Experiencing physical impairment
  • Unable to follow commands
  • Living near pools or bodies of water
  • Involved in boating
  • Involved in watersports
  • Near choppy water
  • Unable to keep their faces out of water


How expensive are canine life vests?

Life jackets for dogs are worthwhile expenses. Once a pet is full grown, they will likely remain the same size, so it’s best to buy a quality swim jacket that is long lasting. Prices vary broadly by brand, size, quality, durability, and features. Basic life jackets for pups and smaller pets start at about $25. Larger dog swim jackets begin at a higher price point, closer to $50 and up. Premium water-resistant life jackets, such as those fitted with stronger handles and specialty PVC-free foams, can run about $100 or up. Be sure to review manufacturers’ descriptions and read customer reviews to evaluate buoyancy, quality, comfort, design, size, color, value, and more.

Life jackets for dogs are beneficial

Pets should always be supervised near water since accidents may happen. To keep pets safe, dogs may be fitted with life jackets that are snug and brightly colored. If your pet is uneasy near water or has trouble following commands, professional training and swimming lessons are helpful. Note that standard pet harnesses are not designed to keep pets afloat and they should never be used on dogs as a substitute for a life jacket.

Dog life jackets keep pets afloat:

Buoyancy is key. It is best to choose life vests that are well made with extra floatation material around the middle and those which are properly fitted. Handles, buckles, snaps, straps, and zippers should operate easily, and pet life vests should be durable. Some offer under-chin support for dogs requiring extra support in the water.

How to measure a pet for a life jacket:

Proper measurements matter. Hill’s, an American pet nutrition company, explains that one must measure a pet from the base of the neck to the base of the tail, and know the pet’s weight to get a precise fit. It’s also important to know a dog’s girth, meaning the widest part around the neck and chest. However, pet vests should not be too loose or too tight. Dogs should feel comfortable wearing them on land and in the water.

Does the color of a dog’s life jacket really matter?

Color counts. Should a dog fall into water, you’ll want them to be super visible. For this reason, bright orange vests are popular. Reflective stripes are also helpful when swimming or being near water at dawn, dusk, or during late-night hours. Life vests featuring reinforced handles and a place to attach a leash are most helpful. Those features allow you to pull your pet out of a body of water and safely restrain them.

Besides getting a life jacket for my dog, are there more accessories that can benefit my pet?

Floating dog training leashes are generally helpful for pet owners who take their pets boating, swimming, or exercising near pools, beaches, lakes, and other bodies of water.

How can I keep my dog safer near water?

As summer draws nearer, it’s important to put pet safety around water at the forefront of our conversations. Since accidents can happen, all pets should be supervised near water. While life jackets are not mandatory for dogs who can swim well, humans should understand that even the strongest swimmers can benefit from wearing them, especially when they are a long distance from shore.

Concluding thoughts on getting a life jacket for a dog  

Most experts agree that life vests can save pets’ lives. Do consider getting your dog a suitably sized life jacket to enjoy trouble-free time by the water. Always supervise your pet and remember that a flotation jacket is more than a fancy coverup. It is a potentially lifesaving device designed to keep man’s best friend safe.

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