Use A Dog Life Jacket and Keep - Your Dog From Drowning

You may be wondering why you need a Dog Life Jacket when your dog can swim.

A dog flotation device (another name for a dog life jacket) will keep her safe from drowning when she has no control over the situation.

Just about any dog can, and will, swim when it's her choice to do so.

(My dog was one of those exceptions — he could swim, but refused to go in the water.)

Running into the surf after a stick or ball, following you while you're swimming, or simply going for a cooling dip on a hot summer day, she enters the water how and when she chooses.

But what if there's an accident?

She slips, hits her head on the boat or dock, and falls into the water. If she's unconscious, she may drown almost immediately.

If she's conscious, she may be dazed or panicked. She'll struggle to orient herself, but she may swim away from shore, eventually exhausting herself.

If she fractures a leg as she falls into the water, she may be unable to swim. The only thing that will keep her alive for more than a minute or two in that situation is a dog life jacket.

If she loves to swim, a float coat could extend the time she spends in the water before tiring.

How They Work

A dog life jacket (also known as a dog life vest, canine flotation device, or canine float coat) works much the same way as a life jacket that you or your kids use.

It wraps around your dog's back and fastens below the chest and belly. Most also have a "collar" that fastens below the neck.

Here are some of the criteria you'll want to note when deciding on a dog life jacket.

  • A colour that is easily seen from a distance. Most float coats are bright orange or yellow. Also look for reflective stripes or trim for added visibility, especially in low-light conditions.

  • Foam cells extending around the chest. These add extra buoyancy to your dog. Look for the foam instead of straps only or nylon and straps.

  • A grab handle on the top of the jacket (parallel to and above your dog's spine). The handle needs to be securely sown. The handle and its stitching need enough strength to withstand pulling a wet dog out of the water by the handle.

    Don't try to pull a very heavy dog (80-100 pounds or more) into a boat by leaning over and grabbing the handle.

    You may injure your back, or end up in the drink yourself. Use the handle to guide your dog to the back of the boat, which is usually lower in the water, or hang on to her while you return to shore.

  • A wide variety of sizes. The dog life jacket won't work well if it's too loose on your dog. If it's too tight, she'll be bothered by it, particularly if she has been bred.

  • Design considerations. If you have a male dog, ensure that the jacket you are considering does not restrict or irritate his genitals. He won't be able to urinate if he's covered up.

  • Quick-release buckles and adjustable straps.

  • A leash ring, so you can attach her leash to the life jacket.

Which Size Will Fit Your Dog?

The greater the range of sizes, the better the dog life jacket will fit on your dog. The sizes are based on two measurements: girth and length.

Measure her girth at the widest point of her rib cage, which typically is a bit behind the front legs.

Measure her length (for this purpose) from the base of her neck to the base of her tail, along her spine.

See the image below for measurement instructions.

Dog Life Jacket Measuring Instructions

Be sure to check the size recommendations as each company's size range varies. An XXS (extra extra small) from one company may not be for the same size dog as an XXS from another company.

A life jacket will help keep your pet alive during a boating accident.

It will also extend the time he enjoys playing and swimming in the water.

If your family loves the water, keep your dog safer with a canine float coat.

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