Maybe your best friend is also the first mate on your boat. Or maybe he’s the type that likes to do a full-speed sprint and dive into the water as soon as you hit the beach. Then there are the poolside pups that enjoy the occasional dip.
Sharing any kind of water adventure is a fun way to spend the day with your dog, but it’s also important to keep safety in mind.
Even the best canine swimmers get tired. And if a mishap occurred on your boat or kayak, your pet would also be in danger. Most common of all among pets are poolside accidents.
To make sure your dog stays safe, a life jacket is key when it comes to water activities. They’ll keep strong swimmers from wearing out and give shy swimmers a little more confidence.
Key Features for Your Dog’s Life Jacket
To help you and your best bud enjoy the dog days of summer, we’ve put together a list of some of the best life jackets for dogs. But first, here are a few key elements that you should pay attention to with any vest you decide to purchase.
Naturally, this is number one on the list. Some life vests for dogs have flotation under the belly as well as the back, sides and neck to keep their head above water.
In some instances, you may need to pull your dog out of the water. Strong handles will ensure you can lift your pet without mishaps.
Size and Fit
You want the fit on a life vest to be comfortable but snug. If it’s too tight, it could affect your dog’s mobility. Too loose, and they could swim right out of it. Be sure to consult the size charts when purchasing and take accurate measurements of their torso, chest and length.
Vests in bright colors and with reflective strips will help you keep an eye on your best friend and make him more visible to boaters and jet skiers.
Now that you know what to look for in a vest to keep your dog safe let’s take a look at the 10 best dog life vests.
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Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket - Best Overall
With its combination of quality and affordability, this life vest from Outward Hound is a huge customer favorite. Foam panels will keep your best friend afloat while dual grab handles make it easy to lift him out of the water.
This durable vest comes in sizes: x-small to x-large. And because fit is so important to your dog’s safety, two belly straps and a chest strap help you to adjust it even further. This life jacket comes with a neoprene belly band, so they can safely stay in the water all day long.
Another plus is the quick-release buckles that make it easy to take on and off. If you’re looking for a quality life vest that’s still a good deal, this jacket is stand out.
Ruffwear K9 Float Coat - Best for Active Water Dogs
This vest from Ruffwear comes with a premium price tag, but its quality and special features make it worth the extra bucks if you have a particularly active water dog.
First off, it comes with extra flotation underneath the belly (not a feature you find on all doggy life jackets). It also has no exposed strap or buckles, which means you can rest assured your dog won’t get snagged on foreign objects. This life jacket also has adjustable straps around the neck so you can make sure it fits perfectly.
Other great features include a top handle, abrasion-resistant material and reflective trim that make it easy to spot your dog in the water.
This vest is a great option for kayakers or any dog owner that spends a lot of time around the water with their best friend.
EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device Dog Life Vest Jacket - Best for Big Dogs
This mid-range priced life vest from EzyDog comes in a variety of sizes and can fit dogs up to 90 pounds. It also has an extra amount of super buoyant material to make sure even the biggest pups stay afloat.
Other important features include adjustable belly straps for a secure fit, D-rings to attach a leash and top handles when you need to lift your pet out of the water.
Reviewers say it stands up well to their strong, active dogs. If you have a rough and ready pup on your hands, this sturdy vest may be the winner.
Frisco Dog Life Jacket - Best for Small Dogs
Maybe your water doggy is more petite than most. This life vest from Frisco comes in five sizes, including one for miniature or teacup pups.
Foams panels make this vest buoyant, and yet it’s not heavy or bulky. It also comes with a grab handle and three buckles that help you adjust it to the perfect fit.
Yorkies, chihuahuas or any other small canine should be able to swim at ease while not being overwhelmed by this handy vest.
Vivaglory Ripstop Dog Life Jacket - Best Budget
Your budget might be a little smaller, but you still want to keep your best friend safe in the water. This vest from VivaGlory has everything you need to keep your pup safe at a lower price point.
Key features include a grab handle, a comfortable velcro and belt system and reflective strips that you can see even in low light. Reviewers point out that it’s easy to put on and take off.
No matter your budget surfs up for you and your pup.
Haocoo Dog Life Jacket - Best Fun and Functional Vest
If your pooch likes to rock a more fashionable look, this vest comes in a wide variety of styles, including a mermaid, shark and lobster look.
But even though it’s more fashion-forward, this is still a very well made vest from Haocoo. All styles have high-quality materials, a top handle, reflective strips and a D-ring to attach a leash.
To assure a snug fit, it has two belly straps and a chest strap which are all quick release.
Is your dog more down to earth? It also comes in more conservative styles. No matter how your pup likes to strut his stuff, this vest has him covered.
Yoyoung Camo Pet Life Preserver -Best For Marsh Dogs
If you have a bird dog or other hunting dog, you’ll appreciate the camo pattern on this heavy-duty life jacket.
A unique feature it has is a belly portion made from breathable mesh to keep your best buddy comfortable. Three quick-release straps give it a snug fit and make it easy to get on and off.
Also included are a top handle, a D-ring for leashes and reflective strips.
If your pup needs to keep it on the QT while around water, this vest will keep him safe and undercover.
Kurgo Surf N Turf Dog Life Jacket -Best Versatility
This slim-fit vest can serve as a water flotation device, a rain jacket or even a light coat.
It has two top handles for lifting your pet and two D-rings for easy leash attachment. It's also nice to note that all Kurgo products come with a lifetime warranty.
While it is a quality product, this vest is better for shallow waters as it has less flotation and support than some other vests. But if you’re looking for a jacket that can do double duty as a raincoat, this could be a good option.
Swimways Sea Squirts Dog Life Vest w/Fin - Best For Pool
If you and your pet like to kick it poolside, this fun vest featuring a shark fin on top will add a little whimsy to your dog days of summer.
It has a D-ring for a leash, two quick-release belly straps and a chest strap for a snug fit, and a top handle for lifting your dog out of the water.
While this vest received good reviews, it’s probably not heavy duty enough for choppy waters. But if you’re planning on a mellow day around the pool or a calm lake, it will keep your pet safe and give him a little extra personality to boot.
L.L. Bean NRS Dog Life Jacket - Best Durability
L.L. Bean is a leader in outdoor gear for humans and, as it turns out, also makes a great doggy life vest. This is our top pick if you are looking to take your dog on a little kayaking adventure.
This jacket is made of strong but lightweight materials and has heavy-duty handles for hauling your pooch out of the water. The reflective tape will ensure you can keep a good eye on your dog even when evening comes on.
Reviewers say it’s easy to put on and take off and appreciate the high-quality construction.
If you’re looking for a name brand that you can trust as much as your best friend, this is it.
The Tail End
That’s the doggy download when it comes to life vests. When buying any flotation jacket for your pet, be sure to the level of the activity in mind.
For any deep-sea or rough water excursions, you’ll need quality construction and plenty of flotation before bringing your paws aboard the boat. But if you’re kicking it poolside or in shallow waters, a lightweight vest that keeps your pup afloat may do.
There are options that will keep your dog's head above water, no matter how shallow the area. There's a dog life vest out there that offers extra front float support, neck float support and other safety features for whatever floatation device makes the most sense for your pup.
But whether you’re swimming, boating or taking a brief dip, be sure your pet is always supervised when they’re around any kind of water.
Have fun and stay cool with your best friend this summer!
You might also be interested in: Coats Your Dog Will Love When It’s Really Cold Out
The 10 Best Dog Life Jackets:
- Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket - Best Overall
- Ruffwear K9 Float Coat - Best for Active Water Dogs
- EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device Dog Life Vest Jacket - Best for Big Dogs
- Frisco Dog Life Jacket - Best for Small Dogs
- Vivaglory Ripstop Dog Life Jacket - Best Budget
- Haocoo Dog Life Jacket - Best Fun and Functional Vest
- Yoyoung Camo Pet Life Preserver - Best For Marsh Dogs
- Kurgo Surf N Turf Dog Life Jacket - Best Versatility
- Swimways Sea Squirts Dog Life Vest w/Fin - Best For Pool
- L.L. Bean NRS Dog Life Jacket - Best Durability