Best Dog Life Jacket Buying Guide

Best Dog Life Jacket Buying Guide (2019)

Having your dog by your side when enjoying the water is a wonderful thing, but you want to keep them as safe and protected as you would anyone else in the family - every dog owner should have a life jacket for their dog and ensure they wear it whenever you're on or around water, be it boating, paddle-boarding, swimming or any other water based activity.

Many breeds of dog are great swimmers - such as poodles and retrievers - but as with humans, even the strongest swimmers can find themselves in in tiring or risky situations when out on the water. For dogs with low body fat such as greyhounds or whippets, or those that are either young pups or senior citizens, taking care in and around water is even more important. Dogs with medical complications can find themselves in trouble, and unpredictable events such as seizures in the water and other types of accidents could mean the worst if your dog is not wearing a life vest.

So What Is A Dog Life Jacket?

Like their human equivalents, a dog life vest is a flotation device worn around the dog's torso to keep them afloat in the water:

  • A dog life vest will tend to have buoyant materials such as foam panels along the body and back of the suit to keep your pet on the surface of the water, and some have additional flotation panels around the neck to keep your dog's head up out of the water.
  • Straps ensure the vest is held in place while your dog swims and many models have handles to help lift your dog into and out of the water.
  • Whilst automatic pet flotation devices do exist which tend to be less bulky when not inflated these are the exception rather than the norm and usually more expensive (as per their human counterparts) - such suits may work best for particular breeds such as pugs or specific activities like dog water therapy.
  • Whilst PFDs for pets are not certified by the US Coast Guard (like those made for people), manufacturers include numerous features to ensure safe use of canine life vests which we outline for the models reviewed below.
  •  You can now get dog life jackets can fit almost any breed of dog, including those specifically for smaller dogs, to give your pet all of the same benefits as you’d find in a human life vest. 
Best Dog Life Vest

Finding the best dog life vest for your pet can be tricky, though, as there’s a lot to consider. Buying a doggie life vest that doesn’t fit well or can’t float well enough means they will be useless on your dog and possibly even more dangerous, so you really need to do your homework.

As with regular life vests, there are now hundreds of options to choose from for your four-legged friend so narrowing them down can be a challenge. We’ve done the hard work for you, though, and found you our top recommendations for the best life vests for dogs so you can choose from the best of the best.

We can show you exactly what to consider when buying a PFD for your dog, the features to look for, and how to get the best use of them, so you can feel peace of your mind that your best friend is safe and sound when you get out near the water.

*Notice: On mobile devices, scroll right to see entire table.

Why Do Dogs Need Life Jackets?

We all know that dogs are natural swimmers, and many of them love nothing more than getting out into open water and splashing around, so why is it so important that they have their own life jacket?

Even if you think your dog is a natural born swimmer, there are still many things to look out for when you’re on the water, including if your dog becomes tired or the water conditions are too rough. In the event of an emergency on the water, your planning needs to cover every member of the family including your dog - a canine life vest could save their life as much as a regular one can save yours.

Some dogs aren’t such natural swimmers, but by outfitting them in their own life vest you can feel peace of mind that they’ll be able to stay afloat should they come into contact with the water, even if they may feel apprehensive about going near it.

Why Do Dogs Need Life Jackets

No matter how you like to spend your time on the water, your dog will be able to join you when they have their own life vest. Many vests can attach to kayaks, boats, jet skis, canoes, etc via a D-ring to keep your dog with you, or they can even help your dog take a dip in the lake by your side with ease.

Having a quality life vest for your pooch means they can be with you wherever you go so they don’t miss any of the fun.

The process of choosing a canine life vest should not be taken lightly, though, and just as you would put a lot of care and attention into choosing a PFD for yourself or your children, you should give just as much thought to one for your dog. Relying on an inferior brand or a vest that doesn’t fit properly will just make things more dangerous in the water, so you have to do your research.

The Features To Look For In A Dog Life Vest

Choosing from the number of life jackets for dogs can be overwhelming, with so many different features and specifications to consider.

No two dogs are the same and so you need to choose one that is specifically suited to your dog’s breed and size, as well as what kind of activities you’ll be doing with them in the water. Here are a few features you’ll need to keep in mind when shopping around for a PFD for your canine friend.


You'll need to get a jacket with sufficient buoyancy for the size of your dog, as some offer more flotation than others. If your dog is a particularly bad swimmer or heavier than usual you might want to opt for something with more flotation and padding. Dog life vests come with differing models as well - some have flotation underneath the dog's belly (also around the back and sides) whereas others are designed with additional buoyancy around your dog's neck to help keep their head above the water.


Not only is a doggy life vest there to keep your dog safe, but it should also keep them comfortable. Dogs should be able to wear their life jacket through the day as they run, play, and swim, so you want to be sure they’re comfortable and able to move freely.

Comfort Dog Life Jacket


Dogs come in all shapes and sizes so you should look out for a good brand that makes their jacket to fit these many different breeds. A quality dog life jacket will have a measurement chart so you can get an idea of the best size before you make a purchase, so keep an eye out for this. You'll want to measure your dog's chest and neck circumference, and the length of their back (neck to just above the tail base) and have an idea of your dog's weight to help you make the right choice of life jacket.


In addition to choosing the right size, your dog PFD should have the option to tighten or loosen the straps for added comfort and protection. Every dog breed has a unique shape to their body so you want to choose something that can be custom fitted to suit their needs.


Many dog flotation devices come in a range of colors - choose a brightly colored vest that has reflective material which will make your dog easier to spot in the water - not only for you but for others on the water (boats, jet skis, etc).


Dog flotation jackets are generally made from the same materials as you’d find in a human life jacket, with a foam filling that helps keep them afloat and something durable but soft like nylon on the outer shell.

Color Dog Life Vest


By far one of the most important features to consider is the additional safety measures your dog’s PFD has. Look for a product with a handle so that you can easily collect them out of the water, and a strong support that keeps the jacket in place even when they’re active.

A good dog life vest needs to tick all of these boxes, but overall it should be made well and with many happy customers to back it up. With these features in mind, we’ve found some of the best-rated dog life jackets to help keep your canine friend safe and happy in the water.

Top Picks For The Best Dog Life Vest

With more and more dog flotation jackets popping up every day, it can be hard to sort through the pile and find those that are truly worth it. We’ve taken the hard work out of it for you, though, and compiled a list of the best dog life jackets so you can choose from the best of the bunch.

Petacc Dog Life Jacket 

If you are your dog like to have a little bit of fun with your loud personalities, the Petacc Dog Life Jacket is the right choice for you. These funny life jackets come in two great options with either a mermaid or shark costume, so you can dress your dog up in style while getting them out into the water with you.

There are heaps of design features on the Petacc Dog Life Jacket that you won’t find anywhere else, so it’s a great choice for the pet owner who likes their dog to be safe and protected.

The controlled handle means you can easily pick up your dog if it’s getting away from you, and possibly even collect them with a large hook and you’re out on a fishing trip, so there’s no need to worry about them floating away.

Petacc Dog Life Jacket


Although there are some great features, there’s also one that can cause a bit of a bother for your dog. The Petacc Dog Life Vest comes with a chin strap that’s meant to help them keep their head out of the water, but because it wasn’t designed with enough buoyancy it can actually be a little tough for them to stay afloat.

For smaller dogs or those who aren’t as confident in the water, this might not be the best option.

The chin strap aside, there’s not much to fault with the Petacc Dog Life Vest. It costs around $20 which is fairly affordable, especially when you consider the high quality of materials used.

The vest is made from abrasion and dirt resistant 600D oxford cloth with a polyethylene foam so it can keep your dog extra warm, which is ideal for those living in colder climates. For a great all-rounder life jacket for a dog who’s comfortable in the water, the Petacc Dog Life Vest is a good choice.

Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket

If you own a dog, you’ve probably already heard of the Vivaglory name, as this company is well regarded for making cool dog toys and accessories that come in handy during everyday life. Their Dog Life Vest is a very popular product of theirs, and it’s one of the more versatile life jackets available that will suit a wider range of dogs and breeds.

The Vivaglory Dog Life Vest comes in seven different colors and all of them are bright and reflective so even if you head out after dark you’ll still be able to keep an eye on your four-legged friends.

In addition to the color choices there are also a number of sizes from extra small to extra large, so they’ve truly thought of every type of breed around and made a jacket that will fit them well.

Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket


Some of the online reviews of the Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket say that it was a little bulky on their dog and they would have preferred a slimmer fit.

These jackets offer an extra 50% buoyancy when compared to others on the market, and this is where you’ll see it, so you have to weigh up whether you want the extra padding or if you want your dog to have a slimmer fitting jacket, and then you can make the right choice.

Everything else about the Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket shows you just how much thought they’ve put into the design, especially with the safety features.

There’s an easy to grab handle on top, a D ring to connect your dog’s lead and fasten them to the boat, and quick release buckles so you can get your dog out in a rush if you need to. All for around $16, this is definitely one of the cheaper options, but one with so much to offer.

Paws Aboard Life Jacket

The Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket is the ideal gift for a four-legged friend in your life, with a cute design that will make them look just like a lifesaver. The key difference with this doggie life vest is how it was made, with a huge focus on choosing materials that can breathe and will help your dog to stay comfortable.

This life jacket was crafted with a breathable mesh underbelly which means once you take it off it will dry and drain in no time at all and be ready for use again the next day.

While your dog is wearing it, it’ll help keep your dog comfortable and allow them to breather without chafing, which can be a problem with some other pet flotation devices that tend to rub on their skin and fur and irritate them.

Paws Aboard Life Jacket For Dogs


The Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket comes in a small, but there are other options available if your canine won’t fit. However, some have found that the shape of these jackets isn't ideal for all breeds, so you will need to see how your own dog fits once you get it. You will be able to adjust it somewhat with the straps, so try to shop for the size you think would best suit and see how your dog finds it.

The material used in this life jacket makes it extremely flexible, and when coupled with the easy handle on top it’s so simple to pick your dog up and get them out of the water when you need.

Along with the cool red design, Paws Aboard have even added reflective strips that make it easier to see your dog even when it starts to get dark, so they really have thought of everything in its design.

Outward Hound Life Jacket

The Outward Hound Dawson Swim Life Jacket for Dogs have been specifically designed for those that aren’t the best swimmers, and every feature of it helps your dog to stay afloat and comfortable. Outward Hound makes a range of doggie life vests, and this one is best for novice swimmers thanks to its increased buoyancy.

Because it’s been made for novice swimmers, it’s best to not try and put it on a dog who’s comfortable or confident in the water. It can be somewhat bulky and offers quite a bit of flotation which might be uncomfortable for a dog who wants to do their own thing, however, if you want the most secure protection for your four-legged friend then this should be one of your top choices.

Outward Hound Life Jacket (Dogs)


The Dawson Swim Life Jacket from Outward Hound has been made with neoprene so it’s extremely comfortable for your dog to wear and won’t cause irritation like you’ll find with some other brands.

However, if you have a smaller dog breed you might find that even the extra small size is a little too small and can prevent your dog from paddling their legs. Although it will keep them afloat they may find it hard to move, so you might want to consider another option.

This is definitely one of the superior dog life vests in terms of construction, and just like all of the other products from Outward Hound it’s made with exceptional materials. A little more expensive than comparable brands at just over $30, you can be sure you’re paying for the best of the best and will be getting a life vest that will last your pup for many years to come.

He&Ha Pet Life Jacket

He&Ha Pet is one of the leaders in dog accessories, and they have a huge selection of personal flotation devices for your canine friend. Their standard Dog Life Vest even comes with a unique chin float that will help keep their head above water, which is an area where some of the better doggie life vests can be lacking.

The He&Ha Pet Dog Life Jacket comes in a range of sizes from extra small to extra large, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding one to suit your dog.

However, some of the online reviews have claimed that with a little effort their dog was able to wriggle out of the vest while on the land, so you may need to be careful that they’re secured in as tightly as possible when you get onto the water without constricting them too much.

Ha Ha Pet Life Jacket


The materials used in the He&Ha Pet Dog Life Jacket make it one of the more comfortable options for your pet, with a breathable underbelly that helps them kick and swim in the water. Best of all, when they’re done you can simply hang it up and it’ll dry in no time so it can store away in just a few hours.

It comes with a durable handle on top in case you need to grab your dog out of the water by hand or by hook, and it’s been made with the best materials so nothing about it seems flimsy.

You really need to be careful when measuring your dog for the He&Ha Pet Dog Life Jacket so that they won’t be able to come free, but other than the unique sizing there isn’t much to fault here. Priced at around $25 it’s one of the more expensive choices, but one that you will be happy with so long as you find the best fit.

The Final Say

For the dog lovers among us, it’s great to see more and more products now available that can help us take our best friends whenever we're out on the water. With a well-chosen, quality dog life vest on your pup you’ll be able to enjoy the water with them safe in the knowledge that they will be protected in the event of any trouble.

A few final words on how to ensure your dog has a great experience with the canine life vest you choose:

  • Make sure to introduce your dog to his life vest well before you plan to use it in the water. Ensure this is a positive and well rewarded experience! Take a few days and start with straps loose and buckles undone just to get your dog used to the feel of the jacket, and work from their to adjust until the life jacket is set as it would be in use on the water.
  • Always keep an eye on your dog in the water - even if they are wearing a canine flotation vest. If on open water stay vigilant to potential problems like boats, swimmers and other dogs in the water. Even if you're with your dog in the relative safety of a pool, they can still find themselves in trouble.
  • A high quality dog life vest will last a good amount of time, but keeping it clean after use will not only keep if more comfortable for them for next time but will also help to increase the lifespan of the vest. Removing salt after a day at the beach is essential to avoid degradation of the material.
  • Use of a canine life jacket can be very useful when first introducing your dog to water - if you've got him used to the life jacket in advance, having some additional flotation can provide further reassurances - for both your dog and yourself!

After weighing up the best of the best and sorting through the features that really matter, our top choice for the best dog life vest would have to be the Vivaglory Dog Life Jacket. Vivaglory is known for making quality dog accessories and it shows, with a vest that is colorful, comfortable, and buoyant, which ticks all of the boxes for what we’re looking for.


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