What to Consider When Buying a Life Jacket for Your Dog

Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington
All dogs can swim, right? Not so fast – before you let your pooch jump in the water, make sure you know what to consider when buying a life jacket for your dog.

Many dogs are natural born swimmers and just can’t get enough of the water. Even if your dog is a strong swimmer, however, you still need to exercise caution when taking him out onto the water with you. When boating, rafting, or even swimming in the ocean, it is a good idea to have your dog wear a life jacket for his protection.

If you didn’t realize that dog life jackets even exist, you’re not alone! Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of life jackets for dogs and things to think about when shopping for one.

Related: 10 Dog Breeds That Can’t Swim

Does Your Dog Need a Life Jacket?

Certain dog breeds were literally bred to swim. This includes Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and basically every other retriever breed. Just because your dog belongs to one of these breeds, however, doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be a good swimmer. The age at which you first expose your dog to water and his level of physical fitness are all factors in determining whether he can swim and how well.

Though many dog breeds are born swimmers, some have no swimming ability at all. This primarily includes breeds with large, heavy heads and short legs as well as breeds that are very dense and compact such as bulldogs. Even if your dog can swim, it is a good idea to have him wear a life jacket for his own protection. This is particularly important if you’re taking him out into open or rough water. Remember, life jackets are designed to not only help your dog stay afloat but they also make your dog more visible in the water.

Related: Top 10 Swim Gear For Your Dog

Tips for Shopping for Dog Life Jackets

When shopping for dog life jackets, there are a number of factors to consider. The best thing to do is go to a pet store or an outdoor supply store and have your dog try on a few different kinds. Your dog’s build and size will determine which life jacket is best.

Here are some general tips to keep in mind when shopping:

  • Look for a life jacket that is made from brightly colored, reflective materials for improved visibility on the water.
  • Make sure the life jacket has a D-ring so you can attach it to your dog’s leash.
  • Look for a life jacket that has a top carry handle – this will make it easier for you to pick your dog up out of the water if needed.
  • Think about whether your dog needs a full life jacket or if a life vest will provide the right degree of buoyancy.
  • For dogs with large, heavy heads look for a life jacket that has an additional float under the neck to keep his head above water.
  • Consider the quality of the materials and construction – your dog’s safety is more important than saving a few dollars.

If you and your dog spend a lot of time on or near the water, it’s a good idea to have a life jacket on hand. Take what you’ve learned here to heart and start shopping for your dog’s life jacket today!

Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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