Best Dog Life Jackets Reviewed & Rated for Quality
If there’s anyone that loves a good swim, it’s dogs. Dogs will gladly splash around in the water, whether that's a pool or honestly, a bath or shower (depending on the dog). But what if you want to bring your precious pup on a more deep-water adventure like on fishing trips? You want to feel confident that they won’t just jump into the water and start swimming because the water is dangerous for even the strongest swimmer. Even if they can swim, there’s a big difference between splashing around in a pool and swimming in a big lake with a long way to the bottom. Well, for this purpose, there is a solution: dog life jackets. If you need a good life jacket to keep your best friend safe during that big fishing trip that’s coming up, try one of these amazing life preservers.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 14 hrs of research
Additional flotation device
Strategically design cell foam panels
Top 10 Dog Life Jackets
1. Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat
Additional flotation device
Strategically design cell foam panels
Starting off our list, there’s the Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat. This strategically designed, well-crafted coat allows for maximum efficiency while looking adorable on your pet to boot. Coming in sizes ranging from xx-small to x-large, you’re sure to find a size for all of your canines.
It always helps to have extra flotation for it, and thankfully this life jacket has you covered. Utilizing an additional flotation device on the underside of the coat, this life jacket adds an extra flotation to your pet, keeping them better balanced in the water on top of keeping them afloat.
One risk it can face in the water is that their life jacket can become damaged by an outside force like a branch or rock. But not the K-9 float coat, as its outer layer is made from highly durable fabrics guaranteed not to tear even under the worst conditions.
Coat and Value
The main downside to the Float Coat is the cost. This life jacket is nowhere near cheap. However, given the quality of the coat itself, it’s safe to call it worth the money.
2. Kurgo Surf n Turf
Can function as a rain jacket, a water vest, or a light coat
Bright, easily visible colors easily replace reflectors
Lightweight and easy to pick up
Some people love the swiss army approach, cramming as many things, no matter how unrelated they are to each other, into one big thing. And this is the design mindset behind the Kurgo Surf n Turf Dog Life Jacket. With multiple designs and functions rolled into one, this isn’t just a life jacket, it’s a life jacket with backup plans.
Want to get some use out of your life jacket outside of the water? No problem just undo the flotation layer from the jacket to turn it into a fully functioning raincoat for your pet. Perfect for when you want to keep it high and dry during those rainy walks.
While other jackets prefer reflective surfaces, this jacket just makes sure to only come in the colors that are the most visible to the human eye. Bright colors that stand out against almost any background, so as to never be missed.
Cost and value
The biggest downside to this jacket is the cost. Obviously, a jacket with all these things going for it wouldn’t be cheap, but it may be more than most people are willing to pay.
Added buoyant padding
Without proper balancing and securing, it can potentially flip it over in the water
If affordability is one of your main concerns as it pertains to your canine life jackets, Vivaglory has you covered. Vivaglory, in their relatively short time in the business of making life jackets, has become specialists in making quality products for relatively low prices.
A bit of extra buoyancy never hurt anyone, especially when your pet is a bit on the hefty side. This life jacket comes equipped with an extra buoyant layer of padding that adds to the flotation.
When you let your pet swim off to have their fun in the water, you want some way to know where they are, especially if you’re playing at night. Luckily, for this reason, this jacket comes with a set of reflective bands that are easy to spot on the water.
Cost and value
This jacket more than lives up to the Vivaglory brand of quality life jackets for low prices.
4. EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device
Secure and comfy fit
The design is tapered in the back rather than it being square, which can put off some people
Taking your canine with you on a boat? Bringing your precious pup to the beach? Well then make sure to pack the EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device. This DFD is designed to not get in the way of its precious puppy playtime, while still fulfilling its duty of keeping them afloat.
The biggest obstacle in the way of convincing your pet to put one of these jackets on is that a lot of them just don’t fit quite right, or even if they do fit, they don’t fit comfortably. Fortunately, the ergonomic, adjustable neoprene belly straps make for not only a secure fit, but a comfortable one as well.
Unlike other jackets, this doesn’t have easily broken strap to reflect off of, but instead, a series of reflective details across the jacket ensures that this jacket can be spotted from all angles.
Cost and value
This jacket is in the grey area between reasonably priced and expensive. If you can afford it, it won’t let you down, but if you can’t then, there’s no need to worry because there are better, cheaper jackets out there.
Great for pets who have trouble keeping their heads above water
Cheap but well made
Available in a wide range of styles and patterns
Chin float may be an acquired taste for some of them
From PetCee comes the quick release Life Jacket. This life jacket is not only cute and affordable, but it’s also very functional, with multiple different uses in the water that it can take advantage of.
If it is a poor swimmer, it helps to have that extra bit of help. Luckily, PetCee addresses this with a special chin float that goes right under your pet’s chin as they swim, meaning that their head will stay above water better than if they were going without it.
Bright Colors and reflective trim
Some manufacturers go for either bright, easy to spot colors, and others go for reflective trimming or full surfaces. This life jacket goes for both, resulting in a very easy to spot life jacket in low visibility.
Cost and value
This life jacket is not only cute and functional but very affordable as well. Its value may not be of anything all that special, but considering the low price for it, it all evens out.
All sizes are accounted for
The designs are fun, cute, and widely varied
Some customers have experienced sizing issues
Coming up, we have the fun and quirky jackets of Haocoo. This life jacket company always finds a way to make fun, cute designs for their jackets, while still managing to balance out the quality and structure of the jacket.
Fun and varied designs
The designs are the best reason to pursue these life jackets. While they are quality life jackets in their own right, working well enough in their own right, but the incredibly varied designs are the main selling point, coming in a wide variety of designs without sacrificing any of the quality in the process.
These jackets cover all the bases in terms of sizes. From XXS to XXL, there isn’t a pet out there that isn’t covered by these jackets. Well, maybe the Russian Bear Dog, but those are plenty buoyant on their own.
Cost and value
These jackets are not only fun and fashionable for your pet, but they’re also pretty cheap on top of that.
7. Paws Abroad R1400
Lightweight, easy to carry
Very easy to clean
Doesn’t get in the way of pet’s playtime
Larger ones may tear the straps
But sometimes it’s not about innovation, but rather about polishing what it does right to a perfect shine. After all, these are life jackets, only meant to do one thing, so it’s best if the manufacturer gets that one thing as right as possible. This is where Paws Abroad comes in, with their R1400 line of dog life jackets.
Sure, life jackets keep your pet afloat, but the cumbersome nature of the jackets usually end up getting in the way of the pup’s playtime, and no one wants that. Thankfully, Paws Abroad’s model of life jackets is lightweight and non-intrusive enough to make sure that every pet who wears them has a fun time in the water.
Easy to clean
With all the fabric that these jackets are made out of, they can be hard to clean. However, the material that this jacket is made of is remarkably easy to clean up.
Cost and value
This life jacket is not only well made but very affordable as well. While not the cheapest on this list, it’s still far more affordable than most of its peers.
8. SwimWays Sea Squirts
Leash ring properly placed for more comfort for you and the pet
Only really fits small puppies
Not all dog life jackets are for those big fishing trips; maybe you instead want to keep your pup afloat during a big pool or lake party. For that purpose, there’s no better choice than SwimWays Sea Squirts Dog Life Vests. This is one of the highest rated life vests out there, and it’s hard not to see why, as it’s one of the most functional life vests on the market. Or maybe everyone just likes the little fin on the back. It’s probably the fin.
One fear that’s not addressed often enough with these life vests is keeping your dog nice and close, so they don’t swim off and potentially get hurt. A fear that this jacket addresses by adding in a leash ring. Sure, other companies do this, but what sets this leash ring apart is that it lays perpendicular to the pet’s body, rather than aligning with its back.
Let’s not mince words and just get to the brass tacks: this jacket is adorable. Yes, it’s functional, but be honest, do you care? No, you’re just looking at the little fin this puts on the back of your puppy, and your wallet has already gotten lighter. The aesthetics of this jacket outweigh almost everything else.
Cost and Value
And on top of that, it’s pretty affordable to boot. This life jacket is not only adorable and practical but reasonably priced too.
9. Outward Hound Granby
Front float keeps its head above water
Sizes can be inaccurate
Outward Hound has crafted many great life jackets in the past and since, but the Granby is their masterwork in convenience and functionality.
One problem often faced when dealing with dog life jackets is the fact that they can’t lift their heads as far as humans can, so swimming can sometimes be a problem. However, this life jacket comes equipped with a front float which can hold up the heads of them as they swim.
As long as the puppy who’s wearing it is the right size, the jacket can be adjusted freely to suit their comfort as much as possible. This is possible through the jacket’s fully adjustable chest and neck flaps, that helps make sure it is as comfy in their jacket as can be.
Cost and value
For such a high-quality jacket, the Granby is shockingly affordable. Meaning that you can have one of the best life jackets on the market for the same amount of money as your average cheeseburger.
10. Yoyoung Camo
Wicks away moisture
Runs very small, if you can’t decide between two sizes, go for the larger one
Finishing up the list, we have the Yoyoung Camo Pet Life Preserver. This life preserver may have come in the last place, but when you consider how many other jackets this one beat out, it stops being a failure in that regard. And regardless, this is still a worthy entry in this list.
Any good life jacket needs to have some kind of adjustability to it, just to compensate for the many breeds it’s bound to be worn by. However, the straps that make up this jacket are made from an ultra-durable Velcro, that’s more likely to hold up to the physical scrutiny of, well, being worn by a canine.
You would think that with such a big bulky thing like a life jacket that it would be hard to get any breathing out of it. But luckily this life jacket is made from lightweight mesh fiber that not only breathes but is also very easy to clean and wicks away moisture.
Cost and value
This life jacket is not only comfortable for your pup and functional to boot, but it’s also very affordable.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
You wouldn’t put a life jacket meant for a Poodle on a Rottweiler, would you? You wouldn’t even get it around his snout. And while yes, that would be hilarious, it would be rather counterproductive to what these life jackets are trying to do. Every company sizes their stuff differently than every other company, so you need to be extra scrutinous when choosing a life jacket for your puppy. Because the wrong size will likely end up with the opposite result from what you want these life jackets to do.
Just as correct size is important to a good life jacket, so too is adjustability. Just because it “fits” it does not necessarily mean there isn’t a problem. No life jacket is going to fit on it perfectly that first time, so you need to make sure that the life jacket you’re buying for your pet has the appropriate number of straps in order for the jacket to be properly adjusted as needed. In general, there should be a few on the back end, a few more on the front, and at least one on the bottom. As long as you make sure that the gadget comes with fully adjustable straps and mechanisms, you can even get a life jacket that’s a whole size bigger than your pet.
This is very important, as what material makes up the life jacket worn by your pet may end up deciding whether or not your pet actually likes wearing it, or whether they’ll just gnaw at it once in the water until the thing pops off. You need to thoroughly look over the materials that make up the life jacket in question. If it doesn’t say either neoprene, nylon, Oxford, or anything similar, give it a pass. Not to say that some life jackets are actively harmful to them, far from it, but those materials are the ones that balance quality with comfort.
How does your canine look and act when they wear the jacket? Are they trotting along like everything is normal? Or are they pacing around, whining, and gnashing at the jacket like it’s actually hurting them. If they’re doing that last one, it’s probably because, to some extent, it is. This is why comfort is such a big deal with life jackets. Because if the pet is uncomfortable, they’re going to do everything in their power to get the thing causing said discomfort off of them. And if they’re in the water, that is something you definitely do not want to happen. In short, a life jacket has to not only be functional, but comfortable enough for the pet to want to wear.
This should be obvious, but you want the life jacket to fulfill its basic function and actually keep it above water. Does it have to be perfect? No, if it isn’t built to be for emergencies. But if it isn’t, and instead meant for play during pool parties, it will say as much on the box. This is another reason why reading the box as thoroughly as possible when it comes to a life jacket is imperative. The buoyancy, in an emergency situation, may just be what saves your pet’s life, so you need to make sure that the buoyancy is above average.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Life jackets ensure that your precious pup has no trouble when swimming, keeps their head above the water, and in general ensures that they have all the splashy fun that water provides while keeping clear of its dangers. So if you have a wonderful canine of your own (which you must as all of them are wonderful) and you want them to partake in the fun of swimming in the water, get them a life jacket and bring your precious pup along for the ride.
Other Factors to Consider
Now, how much the colors that go into the life vest matter depend entirely on what you’re going to be doing with it. If it is only going to be using them to swim around playfully in a pool or pond, then any color will do fine. However, if the life jacket is meant to be used on the open seas or even just a particularly large lake, then you’re going to need to find a life jacket with plenty of bright, hard to miss colors that stand out against the water. Other manufacturers go a step further, especially with models meant to be used out at sea. These models use reflective lining on top of the bright colors to add to the visibility. These coats are invaluable if you’re going night fishing on large lakes or even the open sea, as the light of a flashlight will reflect off of the surface of the coat.
What does this refer to? Simple, all the things that keep the coat on it. These are the straps, the buckles, the quality of the fabric, its durability, even the grab handle that you use to get it out of the water. These all play into the security of the life jacket. The first one is obvious; you want to make sure that everything keeping it in the jacket is effectively keeping them in the jacket. The latter is a bit more head-scratching, but rest assured, it is vital. Because if it is in really deep waters, you sure aren’t going to be able to scoop them up in your arms like everywhere else. You’re going to have to snatch them up via the handle on the back. Test every aspect of the jacket before heading out on the water, make sure that every inch of it works the way that it should.
In most cases the better the product is, the more expensive it is, however with those life jackets, that isn’t necessarily true. The cost can vary depending on the brand you’re looking at, going from amazingly cheap for a quality life jacket, to almost $100 for a pile of fabric and plastic. This is where research comes in handy, as finding out more about the brand you’re looking at can help narrow down your search immensely.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: So, I’m pretty sure the best way to get my pet used to this vest is to instill in them a positive attitude about it, but how do I do that?
That’s a great question, and the answer is as follows: start slowly. It is not going to get used to this thing fast, so the trick is not to force it, try to acclimate it to the vest slowly. A good place to start would be a week or so before your first trip to the beach or pool with them. Take the vest out of the package and let the pet smell it. When they sniff it, give them a treat, maybe even an ear or belly scratch, both if they show that they really take a liking to it. Or maybe because you just want to give it an ear or belly scratch, there’s not really a wrong answer here. After that, gently try to put it on him, with reassuring pets for when they seem scared of it. Be sure to take your time, as this will take those 5-6 days.
q: So even if I restrain my puppy properly within the harness, should I still supervise him?
Yes! Absolutely, 100% yes. They are in significantly less danger when wearing a life jacket, but the danger is still present. Especially if the canine in question is young or really small, or both, anything can happen to your little pup to endanger them. Make sure to limit its play area to wide open areas, where nothing but water surrounds them. This will lessen the risk of them getting snagged on something or running into something else.
q: I have a pool, and I worry about my pet’s ability to get in and out, is there any way I can make the pool safer for my pet?
Several, in fact. Though it should be stated right up front that the following isn’t vital if you can’t afford it. The handle on top of the life vest is your alternative, and it works just fine at getting it out of the water. So, if you can’t afford this solution, feel free to disregard it completely.
What you need is a pool ramp, which is a great tool for your pet to get in and out of the pool safely. And the reason for that is because the steps on pool stairs are usually much too big for its feet to climb, especially when underwater. And obviously, a pet can’t climb up a pool ladder. So, the solution, in this case, is to have a pool ramp that the animal can easily climb in and out of. Do be careful, though, as it will take this to mean they can go in and out of your pool as they please and will then do exactly that.
q: Is there any other advice you can give someone in this situation?
First off, use caution when tying down your pet to a tether while you swim. Using a tether requires constant vigilance, lest it gets wrapped around either you or the pet. And if that happens, it could become unable to swim, or even outright injured. Not to say that a tether isn’t a great tool for working with it in the water. In fact, if it begins having just too much fun in the water to obey your commands to return to shore, you can use a simple pull of the tether to bring them back down to earth like the total killjoy you are.
Get several life jackets, one for each activity. This goes back to what was said about making sure to read the boxes of the life jackets you buy, so you can make sure that you know what this or that life jacket is used for. You should get a life jacket for shallow waters like pools and ponds, and you should also get one for deeper waters like large lakes or even the ocean. Nothing ever went wrong because of over-preparation.
Finally, do bear in mind that just because it keeps it afloat, does not make it a safety device. Generally speaking, though there are exceptions if the life vests feature adorable features like fins or tails., they’re more meant for play in the pool, not survival against the briny deep. So get the adorable life vest so it can swim in style during the big pool party, and get the no-nonsense vest for when you’re going on a big fishing trip and you want to make sure that man’s best friend stays on the safe end of the mortal coil should the worst come to pass.