Dog Life Jackets: Our Top Picks For Flotation Safety!

Dog Safety


Meg Marrs


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Does your canine have a taste for the high seas? Some dogs love to go on boating adventures with their owners, and who can blame them?

While nautical dogs make great skippers, they need to be outfitted with the proper gear to keep them safe. Just as adults and children need life vests, so do dogs.

Well explain everything you need to know about canine life jackets below, but if you just want a fast product recommendation, check out our quick picks!

Quick Picks: Best Dog Life Jackets

  • Outward Hound Standley Sport Dog Life Jacket [Best Overall Dog Life Jacket]: A bright hue, back-mounted handle, and D-ring are just some of the great safety features included in this lightweight swimming accessory for dogs.
  • Outward Hound Granby Life Jacket [Best Dog Life Jacket for Poor Swimmers]: Newbies at the pool get a boost of support with this floatation jacket made with all-around buoyancy and a special chin float for safely treading water.
  • PETLESO Dog Life Jacket [Most Affordable Dog Life Jacket]: A budget-conscious canine life jacket featuring inflatable air bladders for keeping your dog’s head above the water’s surface and bright coloring for easy spotting.
  • Outward Hound Granby Life Jacket [Cutest Dog Life Jacket]: From mermaids to sharks, this adorable doggy life jacket has a wide array of patterns to choose from while still valuing swim safety with its design.

Why Do Dogs Need Life Jackets? Can’t They Swim?

best dog life vest

Most dogs are great swimmers, but even the best paddlers can’t swim for long, and should an unfortunate disaster occur while out at sea, your dog would have no better chance of swimming to safety than you would.

While even water-loving dogs should be equipped with dog life jackets, they are even more important for dogs with low body fat like greyhounds, senior dogs, brachycephalic breeds, and dogs with health or mobility issues.

The Best Dog Life Jackets: Keeping Your Canine Afloat!

Of all the doggie life jackets on the market, we’ve identified the ones detailed below as some of the best. Any of them should help keep your doggo safer while enjoying the water — just be sure to pick one that suits the needs of you and your pet best.

1. Outward Hound Standley Sport Dog Life Jacket

Best Overall Dog Life Vest

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Outward Hound Life Jacket

Outward Hound Standley Sport Dog Life Jacket

A breathable dog life jacket with built-in safety features suitable for most canine swimmers.

About: Outward Hound’s Standley Sport is an excellent choice for water fun with your woofer, thanks to its lightweight design and bright, easy-to-spot hue. Safety features include a handle, D-clip, and a chest float panel that gives your canine a boost while paddling around.


  • Made of ripstop nylon, quilted polyester, and polyurethane foam
  • Adjustable straps for a secure fit
  • Mesh belly panel drains quickly and provides great breathability
  • Available in a single lime green shade with turquoise accents


  • X-Small (11″ to 15″ Chest, 5 to 15 pounds)
  • Small (16″ to 20″ Chest, 15 to 30 pounds)
  • Medium (21″ to 27″ Chest, 30 to 55 pounds)
  • Large (28″ to 32″ Chest, 55 to 85 pounds)
  • X-Large (33″ to 44″ Chest, 85 to 100 pounds)


  • Quality earns praise from most pet parents
  • High visibility, built-in handle, and light floatation make this a safe pick for experienced swimmers
  • Sizing suits most dog breeds


  • Material can be prone to tearing
  • Inexperienced doggy swimmers will need more floatation

2. Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket

Best Dog Life Vest for Poor Swimmers

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Outward Hound Granby

Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket

Buoyant materials and a front-mounted float feature give inexperienced swimmers the boost they need.

About: The Outward Hound Granby Life Jacket supports your swimming amateur with its built-in foam for buoyancy and front float designed to keep canine heads above water. Its adjustable straps allow for a customized, secure fit, while the double rear-mounted straps allow you to lift your pup onto a boat or dock with ease.


  • Made with ripstop nylon, neoprene, and polyurethane foam
  • Designed for all swimmers
  • Bright finishes and reflective accents for top-notch visibility
  • Available in 4 colors: Camo, Orange, Pink, and Yellow


  • X-Small (11″ to 15″ Chest, 5 to 15 pounds)
  • Small (16″ to 20″ Chest, 15 to 30 pounds)
  • Medium (21″ to 27″ Chest, 30 to 55 pounds)
  • Large (28″ to 32″ Chest, 55 to 85 pounds)
  • X-Large (33″ to 44″ Chest, 85 to 100 pounds)


  • Pup parents of poor swimmers praise the vet for excellent floatation (without impeding doggy paddles!)
  • Excellent pricing for the quality
  • Lightweight, easy-to-clean material


  • Some buyers found the fitting sizes to be inaccurate
  • A few reported issues with the chest clips coming undone easily, though the Velcro kept the vest in place

3. Outward Hound Dawson Dog Life Jacket

Best Dog Life Vest for Cool Water

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Outward Hound Dawson Swim Dog Life Jacket, Green, Large

Outward Hound Dawson Dog Life Jacket

A floof floation jacket made with body-insulating neoprene and brightly-colored polyester.

About: Outward Hound’s Dawson Dog Life Jacket insulates your four-footer’s core with neoprene while still providing buoyancy with several float panels, including one for keeping his head above water. Best of all, the non-bulky, lightweight design still allows for natural movement, keeping water adventures fun.


  • Made of neoprene, polyester, and polyurethane foam
  • Multiple adjustable straps for a customized fit
  • Back-mounted grab handles for supporting or restraining your dog
  • Available in 4 bright colors with reflective piping: Blue, Green, Pink, and Red


  • X-Small (11″ to 15″ Chest, 5 to 15 pounds)
  • Small (16″ to 20″ Chest, 15 to 30 pounds)
  • Medium (21″ to 27″ Chest, 30 to 55 pounds)
  • Large (28″ to 32″ Chest, 55 to 85 pounds)
  • X-Large (33″ to 44″ Chest, 85 to 100 pounds)


  • Neoprene panels provide just enough insulation without leading to overheating or bulkiness
  • Works great for novice and experienced canine swimmers alike
  • Quality of materials and float power noted by many pup parents


  • Straps can loosen with use, so check frequently
  • Some owners struggled to buy the correct size initially (pay close attention to the fit guide!)

4. PETLESO Dog Life Jacket

Most Affordable Dog Life Vest

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PETLESO Dog Life Jacket, Dog Life Vest Inflatable Adjustable for Swimming Surfing Boating, Green S

PETLESO Dog Life Jacket

A budget-friendly floater featuring an inflatable airbag, reflective strips, and a comfortable fit.

About: The PETLESO Dog Life Jacket packs a punch of safety features without eating into your treat budget, including an eye-catching hue, safety handle, and back-mounted D-ring. It also provides a helping hand at staying afloat with its inflatable air bladder, with a focus on keeping a dog’s head above the water’s surface.


  • Made with ripstop nylon, terylene lining, and a PVC airbag
  • Velcro fastening points around the neck for water mobility and comfort
  • Dual adjustable belly straps with buckles for proper fitting
  • Offered in one fluorescent green color


  • Small (10″ to 13″ Neck, 10″ to 13″ Chest, 9″ Back)
  • Medium (15″ to 21″ Neck, 15″ to 23″ Chest, 11″ Back)
  • Large (19″ to 26″ Neck, 24″ to 34″ Chest, 13″ Back)


  • Affordably priced without sacrificing safety features
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Most dogs seemed to find it comfortable


  • Requires inflation
  • Some pet parents encountered sizing issues

5. HAOCOO Dog Life Jacket

Cutest Dog Life Vest

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HAOCOO Dog Life Jacket Vest Saver Safety Swimsuit Preserver with Reflective Stripes/Adjustable Belt Dogs (Mermaid, Large)

HAOCOO Dog Life Jacket

A fun floation vest for sniffers that doesn’t sacrifice personality with bright patterns galore.

About: The HAOCOO Life Jacket is a high-quality life preserver made in a wide array of colors and styles ranging from serious solids to playful patterns. Two belly straps and a chest strap (each of which features a quick-release clip) will keep the vest snuggly attached to your dog, and reflective strips are included to ensure your dog is easy to see.


  • Made with polyester oxford, nylon, mesh, and pearl cotton foam
  • Back-mounted safety handle and D-ring
  • Front float positioned to keep canine heads above water
  • Available in 10 colors and styles, including Pink Polka Dot, Mermaid, Shark, and more


  • XX-Small (11″ to 14″ Chest, 5″ Back, 0.5 to 5 pounds)
  • X-Small (11″ to 16″ Chest, 8″ Back, 5 to 8 pounds)
  • Small (16″ to 21″ Chest, 11″ Back, 11 to 22 pounds)
  • Medium (19″ to 25″ Chest, 13″ Back, 22 to 39 pounds)
  • Large (22″ to 29″ Chest, 15″ Back, 33 to 72 pounds)
  • X-Large (25″ to 33″ Chest, 17″ Back, 48 to 99 pounds)
  • XX-Large (29″ to 38″ Chest, 19″ Back, 61 to 121 pounds)


  • Comes in a wide variety of sizes, styles, and colors
  • Most owners report it’s very well made and buoyant
  • Pricing isn’t too steep


  • A few owners experienced sizing issues
  • Some pet parents ran into quality issues with stitching

6. Paws Aboard Doggy Life Jacket

Dog Life Vest With the Most Color & Size Options

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Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket - Keep Your Canine Safe with a Neoprene Life Vest - Designer Life Jackets - Perfect for Swimming and Boating - Red, Small

Paws Aboard Doggy Life Jacket

A dog floater offered in an assortment of unique patterns available in multiple sizes.

About: The Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket offers 6 size options in several attention-grabbing patterns, giving you plenty of options for styling your water-loving woof. Reflective strips boost visibility, while the heavy-duty Velcro and buckled straps keep the jacket in place, allowing your dog to enjoy his swim safely.


  • Made with breathable nylon
  • Chin float feature keeps your floof’s head above water
  • Rescue handle and D-ring located on the jacket’s back for easy access
  • Offered in 8 color patterns, including Red, Pink Polka Dot, and Grey Camo


  • XX-Small (10″ to 14″ Girth)
  • X-Small (14″ to 18″ Girth)
  • Small (18″ to 27″ Girth, 15 to 20 pounds)
  • Medium (18″ to 27″ Girth, 20 to 50 pounds)
  • Large (27″ to 38″ Girth)
  • X-Large (38″ + Girth)


  • More style and sizing options than most canine life vests (unique patterns too!)
  • Lightweight and easy to get on and off your dog
  • Solid quality at a reasonable price


  • A few pet parents mention the straps tearing with larger, heavier dogs
  • Velcro belly straps may not be ideal for breeds with lots of fur, as it can get caught

7. PetCee Quick Release Life Jacket for Dogs

Best Extra-Small Dog Life Vest

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PETCEE XS Dog Life Jacket for Small Dogs Dog Life Vest with Buoyancy and Rescue Handle for Swimming

PetCee Quick Release Life Jacket for Dogs

A small-dog-friendly safety jacket featuring a chin float, light build, and secure straps.

About: The PetCee Quick-Release Life Jacket is solid choice for small dogs, as it’s lightweight, sleek in profile, and has an extra float that rests under your dog’s chin. This helps poor swimmers keep their heads above the surface while swimming around.

Reflective trim is included with all of the color options to help make it easier to see your dog in low light. A D-ring is also located on the back of the life jacket, giving you an easy way to attach a leash to your dog.


  • Made with Oxford cloth, nylon, and foam board
  • Three straps fasten with Velcro and quick-release buckles for a comfortable, secure fit
  • Included rescue handle and D-ring
  • Available in a pink bone pattern


  • X-Small (12″ to 16″ Chest, 10″ to 14″ Neck, 8″ Back)


  • Lightweight feel ideal for petite swimming pups
  • Pet parents provide ideal floatation without being too bulky
  • Super affordable


  • Material can tear, so avoid using around brush
  • More colors and patterns would be ideal

8. Yoyoung Camo Pet Life Preserver

Best Dog Life Vest for Hunting

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Camo Pet Life Preserver Jacket,Camouflage Dog Life Vest with Adjustable Buckles,Dog Safety Life Coat for Swimming, Boating, Hunting | (XS, S, M, L, XL) …

Yoyoung Camo Pet Life Preserver

A camo canine life vest made with hunting-friendly reflective strips, a safety handle, and a D-ring.

About: Yoyoung’s Camo Pet Life Preserver boosts your hunting buddy’s swim safety without ruining his groove with its sleek, lightweight design. Inner foam neoprene side panels gently aid in keeping your four-footer afloat and provide insulation to his core, keeping him warm.


  • Made with ripstop polyester Oxford fabric and nylon mesh
  • Secures with adjustable, buckled straps and Velcro
  • Rescue handle and D-ring for safely securing or rescuing your pooch
  • Available in a single woodland camo pattern with reflective stitching for improved visibility


  • Medium (15″ to 22″ Chest, 12″ to 15″ Neck, 11″ Length, 15 to 22 pounds )
  • Large (18″ to 26″ Chest, 15″ to 18″ Neck, 13″ Length, 22 to 44 pounds)
  • X-Large (24″ to 34″ Chest, 18″ to 24″ Neck, 17″ Length, 44 to 110 pounds)


  • Camo print and reflective strip ideal for hunting
  • Owners frequently praise the quality and security of the straps (a common concern in doggy life vests)
  • Offers support in the water without interrupting your dog’s swimming


  • Long-term durability concerns voiced by some owners
  • Pet parents with wide-chested breeds ran into some sizing hiccups

9. RUFFWEAR Dog Float Coat

Best-Fitting Dog Life Jacket

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Ruffwear, Float Coat, Dog Life Jacket, Swimming Safety Vest with Handle, Wave Orange, Medium


Featuring an adjustable neck and slim styling, this dog life jacket fits most dogs better than other models.

About: Having trouble finding a canine life jacket that fits your pupper just right? The RUFFWEAR Float Coat may be the answer to your problems! Featuring flexible foam that moves with each doggie paddle and a telescoping neck to ensure a snug fit, this dog life jacket is designed to fit Rover like a glove (while keeping him afloat too!).


  • Low-profile handle for lifting your pup
  • Stable webbing won’t stretch when wet
  • Made from comfy PVC-free GAIA foam panels
  • Comes in your choice of three colors


  • XXS (13″ to 17″ chest)
  • XS (17″ to 22″ chest)
  • S (22″ to 27″ chest)
  • M (27″ to 32″ chest)
  • Large (32″ to 36″ chest)


  • The telescoping neck helps ensure a better fit than many other canine life vests
  • Available in a wide variety of sizes to suit most pups
  • Most owners raved about the overall comfort and quality


  • It is one of the most expensive life jackets for dogs around
  • Despite fitting well in most cases, some owners complained it didn’t fit all body types well (looking at you, dachshunds)

Are Dog Life Vests Just for Boat Trips?

life vests for dogs on boats

Boating adventures aren’t the only times to put a life jacket on your doggo. Dogs can get tired and drown just like people do. In fact, there are thousands of dog deaths each year from dogs falling into swimming pools.

Dog life vests are also a great idea for water activities around lakes. Your dog wants to be by your side at all times, to the point where they may put themselves in harm’s way to be near you.

If you’re water skiing, kayaking, windsurfing, or participating in any other kind of water activity where you will be visible to your pet, it’s best to put them in a life vest to prevent exhaustion.

Dog life vests can also be a handy aid when first introducing your dog to water, as the flotation provides a sense of security for uneasy pooches.

What To Look For In a Dog Life Vest

cute life vest for dogs

There are tons of dog life vests on the market, so it can sometimes be overwhelming to sort through them all. Just try to make sure you select a model that checks off all the following boxes:

  • Buoyancy: Naturally you’ll want a doggie life jacket with enough buoyancy to keep your pet afloat in the water. The best dog life vests are generally filled with foam, but some use air bladders instead. Either will work, but air-filled life vests can theoretically pop or end up leaking.
  • Bright Color: Brightly colored vests help your dog stay visible in the water and prevent collisions with boaters and jet skiers. Many vests also feature reflective material for even more visibility.
  • Handles: If you’ll be needing to pull your dog out of the water, you’ll want strong handles on the dog life jacket. This lifting ability means that in some ways, a dog vest can double as a dog lift harness, but if you have a senior dog who is mobility impaired, it’s best to opt for a harness designed specifically for lifting.
  • Size and Fit: Make sure you’re purchasing a dog life vest that is the proper size for your dog. Make sure that while your dog is wearing it he remains comfortable, can sit and lie down easily, and won’t have trouble relieving himself. For the best fit, make sure to measure your dog’s girth and torso and choose a matching size.
  • D-Ring: Leashing your swimming canine is a breeze with a built-in D-ring. Keeping your dog leashed lets you keep track of him in the water and prevents him from swimming away. D-rings are best on the back of the dog life vest, as it keeps an attached lead away from his paddling paws, allowing him to swim without issue.
  • Float Pad: Some dog life jackets have an extra built-in pad or ring to keep your canine’s head above water. This is a nice feature for any dog but is particularly important if your pup isn’t a strong swimmer or if he’s a brachycephalic (flat-faced) breed like a French bulldog.
Dog Life Jacket Lingo: Vest Vs. Jacket

Some manufacturers differentiate between life jackets and life vests, while others use the terms interchangeably. The main distinction in instances where they differ is that jackets provide more body coverage and are best for serious swimming, such as in a lake.

How to Measure Your Dog for a Life Jacket

dog life jacket

Different manufacturers use different measurements to determine the proper life jacket size, but most rely on a combination of three different measurements.

Obtain the measurements by doing the following (you’ll need a tape measure):

  • Chest Circumference: Wrap the measuring tape around your dog’s rib cage to obtain the chest circumference measurement. Be sure to measure your dog’s rib cage at the largest part – typically right behind the front legs.
  • Neck Circumference: Typically, life jackets rest around the junction between your dog’s neck and body. Just wrap the measuring tape around the lower portion of his neck, down near the shoulders.
  • Back Length: Most life jacket manufacturers recommend measuring your dog’s back length from the point where the neck meets the shoulders/back to a point about 2 to 3 inches ahead of the tail base.
  • Weight: Some manufacturers also include a weight guideline to help ensure the life jacket will provide sufficient buoyancy to keep your dog afloat. So, be sure to pick a vest that matches your dog’s weight if such information is provided.

Safety Tips for Life Jackets

Fitting your dog with a life jacket will help keep him safe but doing so isn’t a magic bullet – you’ll still need to embrace a few common-sense practices to reduce the chances of accidents or injuries and ensure that everyone goes home happy, tired and smiling.

And this means doing the following:

1. Instill a Positive Attitude About the Vest

It’ll be much easier to put the life vest on your dog if you help instill a positive attitude about wearing the floatation device from the outset. This will also help your dog feel more comfortable wearing it, which will ensure he still has a great time while swimming around.

To accomplish this, you’ll need to start slowly — long before you intend to use it on the water.

Ideally, you’d start the introductions several days before heading to the beach or lake. In a calm place (like your living room), take the vest out of the package and hold it in front of your dog for a minute so he can smell it.

Reward your dog with treats for sniffing the vest – we want him to realize the life vest is a super cool and awesome thing!

Once he seems comfortable with the vest, gently put it on him. If he doesn’t seem to like it or becomes fearful, just try to pet and reassure him for a few minutes.

At first, just rest the vest on him loosely, give some treats, and then remove the vest after a few seconds. Slowly increase the time that the vest is on. Once your pooch seems pretty comfortable with the loose-fitting vest, connect the straps and cinch them up so they fit snuggly. Follow the same pattern as before by leaving the vest on 10-seconds or so (with treats dispensed), then removing, then putting on for 30 seconds, a minute, and so on.

Next, you’ll want to let your dog run around for a bit while wearing the vest, before taking it off and giving him plenty of praise and goodies.

Repeat the process again in a few hours or the next day. Do this as often as necessary (always giving plenty of positive reinforcement) until he becomes comfortable with the vest and doesn’t mind donning it. At this point, you should be ready for the water.

As your dog begins adapting to swimming with a life jacket, also consider incorporating dog water toys to make the sea a truly fun place to be!

2. Always Make Sure the Straps Are Properly Adjusted and Secured

Before letting your pup jump in the water, make sure that the straps are appropriately tight.

If the straps are too loose, your dog’s body may shift in the vest, which may make it difficult for him to swim with a natural motion. It will also increase the odds of him “barrel rolling,” and ending up upside down in the water, which is obviously a dangerous situation.

Conversely, if the straps are too tight, they may restrict his movement, cause abrasions or even make it difficult for your pup to breathe.

Ideally, you’ll want the straps to be just tight enough that you can barely squeeze two fingers between the strap and your pet’s body.

It’s also a good idea to give all of the straps one last glance, to make sure the clips are all securely connected.

3. Match the Life Jacket to the Intended Activity

Different life jackets are designed for different activities. Some serve as a true life-protecting device, so they are made from very high-quality materials.

These types of vests are made for deep-water use, provide plenty of buoyancy, and usually feature fairly non-descript styling (although they may come in a variety of colors, they’ll generally forego the shark fins and other fun embellishments).

On the other hand, some vests are designed to help your dog stay afloat, but they aren’t really intended as a true safety device. Many such vests feature cute or funny appendages, such as shark fins or mermaid tails, and they’re usually adorable.

These life jackets are not ideally suited for deep water use; they’re best used around the pool, where your pooch can swim in style.

It’s also worth pointing out that you’ll often pay more for the former style than you will the latter style.

4. Use Caution When Connecting a Life Vest to a Leash or Tether

dog life vest

Most good life jackets and vests come equipped with a D-ring to which you can attach a leash or tether. This can make it easier to keep your dog safe while walking to the pool or lake.

But, you’ll want to test out the strength of the D-ring (as well as the associated stitching) before you rely on it to keep your dog from running out into traffic. The included D-rings are generally intended for light-duty use, so they may not be capable of withstanding super-crazy pulling behavior.

These rings will also make it easier to keep your dog from straying too far in the water if you switch out the leash for a long rope when it is time to go swimming.

This is also a great technique for dogs who stop listening once they start swimming – sometimes they have so much fun swimming, they become rather disobedient. But with a tether, you can just drag them (gently) back to shore.

Just be sure to use caution when tying your dog to a tether while swimming. If the rope gets caught around your dog’s legs or neck, he could become unable to swim or suffer an injury. Using a tether requires constant vigilance from the owner.

Some owners find that it is easier to keep the rope from entangling a dog by attaching something buoyant (such as a poodle noodle section) to the rope about 1- to 2-feet away from the ring. This isn’t a foolproof technique, but it will keep the rope out of your dog’s way to some extent.

Generally, it’s best to not use a tether if possible, as your dog getting tangled in it could be quite problematic. Some stinky treats are usually compelling enough to get most dogs back on board the boat or beach!

5. Never Let Your Dog Swim Unsupervised

Even if you outfit your dog with the finest life jacket money can buy, he still requires supervision while swimming. Life jackets drastically reduce the danger associated with swimming, but they aren’t perfect, and dogs can still get into a bit of trouble while paddling around.

You’ll need to make sure your dog doesn’t drift off into potentially dangerous areas, including anywhere subject to strong currents or places with underwater hazards.

It’s also a good idea to limit your dog’s swimming to wide-open places, where he is surrounded by nothing but water. This will reduce the chances that he’ll run into something or become snagged. You may also want to consider a dog-friendly float so your dog has an area to rest between swim sessions!

And while pools are generally safer than lakes, rivers or oceans, they aren’t completely safe. Accordingly, you’ll still want to supervise your dog when he goes out for a dip in the backyard.

For example, dogs often have trouble getting out of the pool (in fact, be sure to scroll down to check out our article about pool ramps, which are designed to help make it easier for your dog to get out of the pool). They can also become trapped by filter intakes or overflow drains.

Dog Life Jacket FAQs

Dog life jacket

We’ve tried to explain everything you need to know about dog life jackets above, but here are a few common questions and answers, for those who still need a little more info:

Do dog life jackets work?

While you can never completely eliminate the risk of drowning, well-designed canine life jackets do work well and will keep your dog much safer when swimming or hanging out around the water.

Can you make a DIY life jacket?

We’re pretty big fans of DIY projects, but given the fact that life jackets are safety devices, it is probably wiser to just purchase a commercially manufactured model rather than trying to make one yourself.

Do dogs need to wear life jackets on boats?

Yes! Even the best dog paddlers out there can quickly become tired and drown — particularly in deep water. Always fit your pet with a dog life vest when heading out on a boat.

Do dogs need life jackets when swimming in a pool?

We’d stop short of saying that life jackets are mandatory for all supervised doggos who’re enjoying the pool. But, they’re always a good idea — especially for poor swimmers, like bulldogs, pugs, and others.

How should a dog life jacket fit?

Dog life jackets should fit much like human life jackets should. They must be very snug to prevent them from twisting or shifting in the water, while still providing a comfortable fit and not causing any rubbing or abrasions.

How much do dog life jackets cost?

Like those associated with most other commercial canine products, dog life jacket prices vary significantly. Generally speaking, you’ll have to spend at least $20 to $30 for a budget model, and high-end models may cost several times as much.

How long do dog life jackets last?

Realistically, a bargain-basement life jacket will probably only last your dog a year or so before the material begins to wear out or fray. But premium models will usually last several years, especially if you take good care of them.

How do I get my dog adjusted to a life jacket?

You can help your dog get used to a life jacket in the same basic way you’d get him comfortable with any other new garment. Start in your living room, and allow him to sniff the jacket and check it out, maybe while sharing a few tasty treats to build up a positive association. Then try to gently put it on him, but take it off after a few minutes. Repeat this as necessary until he seems comfortable and happy wearing it. At this point, you can move to the water and see how he does.

How do I measure my dog for a life jacket?

You’ll need to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines to learn how to measure your dog for a specific life jacket. That said, most will rely on a neck-circumference, chest-circumference, and back- or body-length measurement. Some also have weight guidelines.

Which dogs are most likely to need a life jacket?

Life jackets are a good idea for all four-footers, but they’re most important for dogs who have deep chests or short faces (brachycephalic breeds). Dogs who are overweight may also struggle to swim, while dogs with exceptionally low body fat may not be terribly buoyant — both types should be fitted with a life jacket before swimming. Finally, dogs with physical handicaps or injuries should wear a life jacket, as they may be incapable of swimming properly.

Why won’t my dog move with a life jacket on?

Some dogs take a while to get used to the feeling of wearing a life jacket. In such cases, they’ll often freeze and just stare at you with a blank expression. Don’t panic in such cases — just be patient and reassuring, and your dog will likely learn to tolerate the vest and begin moving normally over time.

How do I clean and maintain my dog’s life jacket?

Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for specific care requirements of any given vest. However, generally speaking, you’ll want to rinse the vest off in clean, fresh water after use, wipe away any stubborn dirt or debris with a cloth, and — most importantly — hang the jacket up in a shady place to dry completely. Only then should you put it in a storage container or closet.

Enjoy Swimming with Your Dog and His New Life Vest!

But before you do, make sure you check out our other articles that’ll be helpful for your canine’s aquatic adventures!


Do you fit your pet with a life vest before taking him swimming? Do you have a favorite model that we didn’t discuss?

Let us know in the comments below!

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Written by

Meg Marrs

Meg Marrs is the Founder and Director of Marketing at K9 of Mine. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! She loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!

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  1. Scott Bennett Avatar
    Scott Bennett

    Hi Meg,

    Being it’s June of ‘21 now I realize this article is a bit old. I just wanted to put something out there that actually happened to us today with our 14 yr old retriever mix. He had ACL surgery last August. Where I live you don’t get good boating weather until roughly right before Memorial Day weekend. Our dog has done tons of walking but not anything very stressful on his body. He swam a couple time yesterday and did fine. Today we didn’t listen to the parent in us and brought him again today instead of letting him rest. He had been out one day prior a week before. We stopped once to let him pee and get in and cool off. All good. Very shallow sandy area. We then went to another spot about an hour later to let him swim. I thru the ball in and he went and got it but on the way in I could tell his head could’ve been higher. And no way was he letting go of his tennis ball. I was on our boat and told my wife to watch him. I turned to grab our cooler to put on the beach and my wife yelled. The beach has a fairly steep incline and drops off pretty quick but there’s still plenty of room where it’s still an incline but slightly. When I looked my wife was trying to hold him up. Apparently when he got out and walking along the beach his rear right leg gave out and while it was only about 8-12” deep, he went under on his side.
    I got to him and he was completely out of it. Tongue out, rear legs stiff and both pointed toward. I gave him a few thrusts up under where his ribs meet his chest. He came to but I didn’t think he was going to. It seemed like forever. I don’t know if he had a seizure and was out of it when he fell or if his leg gave out and with the incline, lost his balance and just didn’t have the footing or strength in the sandy water to hold himself up. He has swam here 50 times over the years. But reading about theses jackets for dogs made me wonder if they would’ve helped much. If he had a life jacket and had a seizure in the shallower water I don’t know if that would’ve got him back over upright if his legs were dragging on bottom. But the main thing that concerns me reading this article is what would’ve kept his airways open if he was unconscious? I saw the chin assist vests but if your dog has no control of his head would that keep his nose out of the water? I realize these aren’t everything you need. That’s why as you mentioned “watch your pet”. As with kids, it only takes a split second. Had we both had our backs turned this easily could’ve turned out worse. But I’m still concerned for animals that have seizures. I’m not sure what it’d look like if you needed the protection I described. Once they can’t control their heads I don’t know if any of these would work.
    I apologize this being so long. This honestly did happen to us today. It did happen once last summer, but some kids had him so tired and threw the ball out for him to get. Fortunately I was watching then because the water was over his head and I ran out and grabbed him. I think he was exhausted because I saw the whole thing. Your right! They can’t swim forever like people think. Even the best water dogs.

    Thank you,


    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey there, Scott.
      I’m glad your story had a happy ending! It sounds like things could have turned out tragically if you and your wife hadn’t been watching him so closely.

      Unfortunately, while life jackets are certainly helpful and provide an additional layer of protection, they’re not infallible — particularly for dogs who’re suffering from other health ailments, like epilepsy.
      In these cases, it’s just important that you watch your doggo like a hawk and be ready to intervene if he starts having trouble.

      Thanks for sharing your experience, and again, we’re glad everything turned out OK!

  2. headspace Avatar

    It is unfortunate, these are the best jackets you can find. Last year we opted for the outward hound Granby Ripstop Life Jacket. Why the put “Ripstop” in the name is beyond my comprehension as the jacket is literally coming apart at the seams. And for a dog at 80lbs and wet from swimming, you would think the handles would be suitable for “handling” the animal but think again, it is the very reason the seams are under increased tension. Now strictly speaking flotation-wise yes the jacket performs well. But if I had to do this all over I would have taken scissors to the handles and cut them clean off. You’ll have to use some other means by which to get your dog out of the water, especially difficult when the dog has jumped overboard, but think twice before you use those handles riiiiiiip! Great article, just wish there was something actually worth the money in doggy aquatic gear, fact remains they just don’t make things like they used to.

    1. Ben Team Avatar

      Hey, headspace.
      Thanks for sharing your experiences. It is unfortunate that there aren’t more options on the market, but we hope that’ll change in the future.

  3. mustahsan Avatar

    I think this is one of the most important information for me.
    And i’m glad reading your article. But wanna remark
    on few general things, The web site style is ideal, the articles
    is really nice : D. Good job, cheers

  4. Sue Yost Avatar
    Sue Yost

    Your site is useful, but it would be nice to know where the life jackets are made. These days we are all supporting local. Are they made in Canada, USA, China????? Maybe you could add a little flag or ‘made in’ tag to each pic so I don’t waste a lot of time reading details when I wont buy.
    Thank you

    1. Meg Marrs Avatar

      Hi Sue – we already make sure to note local brands when it comes to dog food, but we don’t usually maintain these standards for other products since the vast majority of all dog products (with the exception of foods, treats, and chews) and manufactured overseas. When dog products are made in the USA, we usually note that in their features.

  5. Caroline Avatar

    Love this! You should consider adding the Canine Flotation Device from NRS. I have been using it for the last few years and it’s worked great for my dog.

  6. Jamie Avatar

    I’ve got a 1 y/o Labradoodle named Oliver. He LOVES water, but I’ve always been afraid to take him in lakes or rivers. I think getting a vest like one of these will help with my anxiety around it! Thanks alot for this post.

  7. Jim Avatar

    Anyone know of any issues w/dogs getting too hot while using a K9 life vest? It can get hot at Lake Powell. I would hope if she gets too hot she would just get in the water, but after all she is a dog…

  8. Crystal Avatar

    Does anyone know of a life jacket that is suitable for a 145 lbs Great Dane? Most places just 100 lbs +, but there’s a big difference between 100 lbs and 145 lbs. Thanks in advance for any help!!

    [email protected]

  9. Shane Avatar

    Hey Meg – just so you know, the EzyDog life jacket has a different version designed specifically for small dogs! You can find it here:

  10. Susan Skipper Avatar
    Susan Skipper

    I’m looking for a vest that can be adjusted to fit a 6month old boxer up through adulthood. Instead of having to buy 2. One for this season and then later.

  11. Jessica Wilson Avatar

    Thanks! I love number 2!

  12. Hantie Avatar

    Good day i like your number 3 – Paws Aboard life jackets, i have a small dog he is a x chi & fox terrier, he weighs about 8 kg, what size will he be and how much does this cost i live in Gauteng, South Africa.

  13. Eric McCormick Avatar

    You should consider adding the Critter’s Inflatable, fully automatic inflatable life jacket. Learn more about it at

  14. Elaine Avatar

    I’ve been thinking about getting one of these for years and maybe I should just go ahead and buy one. Haley’s definitely a water dog and loves to fetch sticks at the lake or beach, but she doesn’t stay in the water for very long.

    It would be great to have one for the safety aspect, but I’m thinking she might enjoy staying in the water longer if she didn’t have to work so hard at paddling to stay afloat. Great review of these vests, thanks!