Dog Life Jackets: An Expert’s Opinion on Making the Best Purchase

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How to Select the Best Dog Life Jacket and Why It Matters

Dogs love to swim. Nature is on their side on this one; some dog breeds are good swimmers. There are a few breeds that hate being in water and others that will actually sink the minute they get in. For your dog’s safety, life jackets are a must-have. Discover more at a website Dogs Recommend.

The mechanism behind these jackets is simple. They keep your dog above the water and ensure that he stays afloat even when he is too tired to paddle. To serve their purpose, there are a few key qualities that these flotation devices must-have.

Why Life Vests Are Important for Dogs

You must be wondering why you need a dog life jacket, yet your pup is a good swimmer. Here are a few solid reasons why you should consider getting one of these floatation devices:

  • Health and weight issues – despite having good swimming skills, an overweight dog will have a hard time in the water. Such a dog will tire easily, and he must wear a vest.
  • Distractions – puppies are playful and easily distracted. Passing boats and loud noises can easily cause disaster.
  • Poor weather – when the tide changes and the weather become terrible, a dog might get frightened and drown. With the prevalence of storms in recent times, you can never be too cautious.

How to Choose the Best Dog Water Vest

With so many vest designs, colors, and prices, how do you make the best purchase? There are a few key qualities of a good dog life jacket.


Like any other floatation device, the pet vest must be made of buoyant material. If it cannot keep your dog afloat, it is of no use. However, you should be careful not to compromise your dog’s comfort while looking for buoyancy. 

In as much as the vest is supposed to keep your dog afloat, it should not put the dog in an uncomfortable position that hinders swimming. The device is meant to provide support and not to do all the work while your dog floats in an unnatural position.


When disaster strikes, your pup should be easy to find. The best jackets are those that are brightly colored for easy identification during a rescue mission. Those that have reflectors are even better, in case the rescue is being done when it is dark.

Ease of Use

Handles are a very important feature that must be on all life vests for dogs. Dogs need help getting in and out of the water. Trying to get your pet out of the water without a handle can be difficult and dangerous.


It should come with all the fittings that ensure your pup’s safety. The buckles must be large enough not to concentrate pressure on one location. Large dogs do better with mesh instead of buckles.

There should not be any rough spots that can rub against your pet’s skin and cause discomfort. All interior straps should be present. The neck should be telescoping to ensure the best fit. A D-ring is a must-have so that you can attach your dog’s leash. 


These jackets must fit well; otherwise, they will not keep your dog afloat. A size that is too small will make your dog sink. On the other hand, your dog will easily slip out of an oversized jacket. When making a purchase, steer clear of vests that are labeled “one size fits all.”


The vest must be made of strong, well-stitched material. The handle should be made of sturdy nylon fabric that can resist the elements. It must also be well-fixed to prevent it from snapping off while you carry your heavy pet.

Answers to Common Questions About Life Vests

Despite reading many dog vest reviews, you must have many questions about your first vest purchase. Here is everything you need to know:

How Do Dog Vests Work?

Because they are filled with buoyant material, these vests keep your pet floating on the water. Dogs that have low body fat, health complications, and an aversion to water can be kept safe due to the buoyancy. The handles on the jacket help you to lift the pup in and out of water. The D-ring is for attaching your pup’s leash.

My Dog Is a Good Swimmer, Must He Wear a Life Jacket?

Yes, because even dogs that are good at swimming cannot keep at it for long. Your dog might get exhausted and need extra help to stay afloat. In case a disaster happens at sea, he would not stand a chance without a proper life jacket.

What Is the Best Fit for My Dog?

It should be snug but not too tight that your pet cannot move properly. Before taking your pup to the water, you should ensure that he is properly strapped in. Loose straps will let the vest shift and create an unsafe swimming position. They might cause him to roll an end upside down, increasing the risk of drowning. Tight straps will restrict his ability to breathe and increase the odds of a tragedy at sea.

Which Brand Makes the Best Dog Life Vest?

There are many good jackets on the market. The brand you go for is down to personal preference. However, there are a few popular brands such as Ruffwear, Outward Hound, Kurgo Surf and Turf, PetCee, and Paws Aboard, which have exceptional jackets for all breeds and sizes.

Final Take

A life jacket is an essential component of every dog owner’s first aid kit. Whether your pup swims well or hates the water, you must always have him snugly strapped into his jacket whenever you go out. To buy the best vest, ensure that you check for durability and proper sizing.

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About Kristin

Master reviewer of all types of products. Love XL Fountain Sodas!! Cheer Mom extraordinaire. Socialite to all things small town and founder of Come socialize and connect with me.


  1. I never considered getting one for my dog. Something to consider if we decide to go fishing on a regular basis with him!

  2. Molli Taylor says

    this is good info, i want to take my dog to the river!

  3. Dana Rodriguez says

    Interesting post. I have never known anyone to put a vest on their dog but it makes sense!

  4. Linda Linneman says

    Thank you so much for sharing this. My son has a boxer that is not a swimmer. She does like running around the pool with their two other labs. Paisley could really use a life jacket. Thank you for the great information

  5. LeAnn Harbert says

    I haven’t ever gotten a life jacket for my dogs. I need to check on getting them one.

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