The Best Dog Life Jackets

The Best Dog Life Jackets

If you are boating on any of the waterways in Maryland, including the Potomac River, Nanticoke River, or the Patapsco River flowing through the Inner Harbor of Baltimore and throughout the Patapsco Valley State Park, wearing a life jacket is an important safety issue for anyone in any type of watercraft.

The same is true for your pets. Most people assume that dogs are good swimmers, but this is not always the case, particularly in fast running water, deep water or when boating far from shore. It is a good habit to make sure your dogs, just like kids or other passengers on the boat, are always wearing a life jacket when on the water.

What to Look For

For small, medium, and large breeds of dogs, there are specific features to look for on any life jacket. Look for life jackets that cover the dog’s back from the base of the neck to just in front of the hips, and that also cover down the rib cage and have a wide wrap or girth that secures around the rib cage.

The larger dimensions and coverage offered on any type of life jacket increases buoyancy in the water. There are also some life vests offered for dogs, which tend to be smaller in size and less substantial. Life vest may be a good option for a dog swimming in a lake or a pool, but they are not designed for enhanced buoyancy and high visibility in the water.

Choose a life jacket that is a bright color. Neon orange, yellow, and lime green are easy to spot in the water, but any color or pattern that stands out is a good choice. It is highly recommended to consider a life jacket with reflective strips on the back and sides of the life jacket for easy visibility in cloudy, overcast, or dark conditions.

Finally, make sure the life jacket has a solid, durable handle on the back. This makes it easy to pick the dog up from the water or to bring him or her in close to the side of the boat to life out for the larger breeds. Check to make sure there is also a D-ring on the back of the jacket where a leash can be attached for convenience.

Sizing the Life Jacket 

The life jacket should be fully adjustable to customize the fit for your dog. Most are sold in small, medium, large and extra large sizes, but be sure to check the manufacturer’s sizing chart to get the correct fit.

Make sure the dog can move easily in the life jacket, but it is not too loose to come off in the water. The straps should be snug but not tight, and the dog should be comfortable to move around on land as well as in the water.

Some of the most recommended brands for life jackets by the American Kennel Club for all sizes of dogs include the Outward Hound Grandby,  Kimol Dog Life Jacket, and the Vivaglory dog life jacket.