Pet Care Tips: The Importance of Life Vests for Dogs

By Maria Rogerson

February 20, 2023Pets

Life vests certainly are some of the most essential gear when boating or having some recreational water activities for a longer period of time. But aside from being important gear for people, they’re quite important safety aids for dogs as well. No matter how good it can swim, your furry friend should wear a life jacket for dog for its own safety.

What Is a Dog Life Vest?

A dog with a life vest in the water

A life vest for dogs is a piece of clothing designed to be worn over the chest in order to prevent a dog from sinking. Since the main purpose of these vests is to keep dogs afloat, this means that they’re mainly made of quality buoyant padded material. They’re available in numerous types, sizes, colours, designs and features which allows you to pick just the right model for your pooch.

Are Life Vests Good for Dogs?

Even though some breeds know how to swim better than others, wearing a vest, especially when swimming in deeper water is paramount. Truth is that even good canine swimmers can get tired and struggle to keep their heads above water, so a quality life vest for dogs will help them stay afloat without a problem. This will allow them to have more fun time in the water staying active which is great for both their mental and physical health.

Jackets for dogs are designed to support the dog underneath the chest, and they seem to take off a good amount of its weight. This allows the dog to swim longer distances and for a longer period of time before starting to tire. A good supportive jacket can also prevent your dog from suffering from muscle soreness that is mainly caused by extreme exhaustion.

All in all, this swimming gear is designed to keep your dog safe and sound by all means. Usually, all of them have a handle at their tops, allowing you to easily help or hold your Fido while in the water. This feature precisely will give your dog some kind of security, so even if it isn’t a good swimmer, you’ll help it create a positive experience. This handle is also great for picking up your dog out of the water when needed.

Even if your dog is an excellent swimmer, remember that accidents can happen at any time, and nobody can go against nature. Muscle spasms are also common in dogs as well as seizures and some other health conditions, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

How to Choose the Right Life Vest?

A dog with a life vest jumps into the water

Before taking into account the most important things you should know for choosing a quality vest, first, you should weigh your dog. Most of the time jackets come in sizes and capacities that are designed for specific weight ranges, so weighing your dog will help you make the right choice. Once you know its weight, you should also measure its chest and neck so that the jacket can fit properly.

Take a measuring tape and measure around your dog’s neck and the widest part of its ribs around the back. If you don’t have a measuring tape, you can take a ribbon, mark where the end of the string meets and then measure with a ruler. For a better fit, you can also measure your dog’s length by checking the distance between the base of your pet’s neck and the base of its tail.

Even though most life jackets are adjustable, choosing a comfortable and proper fit would be better. The right vest should be snug and secure while not restricting your dog from moving freely, so testing it on your dog before using it would be great. You can do that by testing your dog’s mobility with the vest on by having it sit, walk, lie down and run.

Features to Look for in a Life Jacket

Golden retriever with life vest

Durable Handle

Choosing a life jacket with a sturdy handle is paramount since it makes it much easier to get your dog out of the water. This handle also makes it easier to teach your dog how to swim or help it feel more confident and safer when swimming for the first time.

Leash Attachment

If possible, find a life jacket that has a leash attachment which will allow you to attach the leash and pull your dog out of the water and guide it when needed.

Flotation System (Pad)

Make sure to choose a super flotation jacket or one that has a flotation buoyant pad that will keep your dog’s head afloat in case of an emergency.


The most important thing to have in mind when choosing the right life jacket is selecting a quality and functional one. Even though the colourful ones indeed are appealing and more stylish, it would be better if you look at the jacket’s functionality and convenience. That being said, it’s of more use to you and your pup if you choose a high-visibility jacket in bright neon. If not, make sure to choose a jacket that has reflective tape to make your dog visible in the water.