10 Reasons Why Your Dog Needs a Dog Life Jacket

When it’s time for an adventure, you know your best friend wants to come along for the ride. But dog swimming safety requires special equipment, just like a doggy seat belt in the car. When taking your dog for a day by the lake, make sure they’re safe and sound. So, do dogs need life jackets? Yes! A dog life jacket can ensure you and your furry friend have a worry-free good time by the shore.

Whether boating, at the beach, in a kayak at the lake, or hanging by the pool, your dog is likely to show off if they’re a swimmer. In addition to a refreshing splash, it’s a chance for you two to enjoy some quality outdoor time together.

Dog owners can make swimming a safe event every time by packing a dog life vest to ensure dog swimming safety. Not sure if your dog really needs a life jacket? Read on for 10 reasons why it’s a vital flotation tool that’s in you and your pooch’s best interest.

1. Some dogs just aren’t built to swim

dog swim vest worn by a french bulldog

You may think that all dogs are natural-born swimmers – we’ve all heard of the doggy paddle, right? But the truth is that some dogs — whether large, small, or medium-sized — have trouble staying afloat, so they need a little flotation assistance. Whether or not a certain dog can swim actually comes down to health problems and how buoyant their bodies are.

Breeds like Greyhounds have low body fat, so they aren’t very buoyant, or prone to float. Other breeds like Bulldogs and Pugs have extra large, girthy chests that make them top-heavy in the water. Additionally, extra small dog breeds like Yorkshire Terriers or Shih Tzus often start out as strong swimmers but get tired easily.

Enter the doggie flotation device! Outward Hound’s dog life jackets with front floats and rescue handles help even the wimpiest of simmers stay safe in the water.

2. Even the best dog swimmers get tired

dawson dog life jacket

Some breeds of dog are more suited to the water and water sports, like the Portuguese Water Dog with its webbed feet, or the Labrador Retriever, which was bred to be a strong swimmer.

But let’s face it, most dogs just don’t know when to take a break. Even the best dog swimmers can tire easily in the water and quickly run into trouble if they aren’t wearing a dog life jacket with supportive belly straps.

If your dog is a strong swimmer, the Standley Sport Experienced Swimmer Dog Life Jacket is just the ticket. Its open design with adjustable straps is perfect for a wide range of motion and top floatation-assisted performance in the water. Like a harness, it also has a heavy-duty D-ring for clipping on a leash attachment and an adjustable chest strap to accommodate various girth sizes.

3. Accidents happen

dawson dog life jacket

We shared a story on the blog that serves as an important reminder to always be prepared in the water. Tyler had a seizure while swimming, but was saved from disaster because she was wearing a dog life jacket.

Accidents and emergencies can happen at any time, and they are especially dangerous when deep water is involved. Thankfully, a high-quality life jacket like the Outward Hound Granby dog life jacket, which features neck closure fastenings for a secure fit, will keep your dog’s head afloat.

Whether your pup is kicking it shoreside or has its paws aboard a boat, a reliable life preserver will protect your pup even if the worst happens.

4. There may be unseen hazards in the water

Dog wearing a life jacket boating on a lake

Even though it may seem safe for your dog to go swimming, there could be unseen hazards in the water. While swimming pools are relatively safe, lakes may contain underwater debris like branches and foliage that your dog can get caught up in. Plus, swimming against the current in a stream or river can quickly lead to exhaustion. If your dog is swimming in the ocean, strong currents can cause him to be pushed out to sea.

In all these situations, a life jacket can keep your dog’s head above water and potentially save their life.

5. Life jackets keep your dog warm

This corgi is wearing the Outward Hound Dawson Swim dog Life Jacket

Even dogs with thick coats can suffer hypothermia in cold water. According to DVMs Malcolm Weir and Lynn Buzhardt of VCA Hospitals, a dog’s normal body temperature is 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 to 39.2 degrees Celsius). If their body temperature falls below 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37.2 degrees Celsius), bodily functions will become impaired and hypothermia can set in.

The Outward Hound Dawson Dog Life Jacket is a great floatation choice for keeping your dog safe and warm on cold swims. It features a neoprene belly band and foam panels that offer maximum buoyancy while naturally insulating your dog.

6. Spot your dog in the water more easily

dog on beach wearing dawson dog life jacket

While some dogs are “velcro dogs” who stay by your side at all times, others like to venture out on their own. This means you might lose track of them while wading in the water.

Some dogs have a low profile when they’re swimming, it’s easy to lose sight of your pooch in the water. But not if they’re wearing a colorful life jacket with reflective strips! (Psst: We just released new colors! Now available in blue, camo, red, yellow, and pink.)

There’s a very good reason the best dog life jackets come in bright colors; they allow you to locate your dog quickly, even from a distance. If there’s an accident and your dog falls into the water or gets swept away by strong currents, you’ll be glad he’s wearing a float coat with reflective trim so you can spot him easily.

7. Life jackets have convenient handles

granby dog swim vest

Dog life vests come equipped with a grab handle on top that makes it much easier to haul your dog to safety as shown here. This doggie personal flotation device (PFD) feature is great for assisting your dog when swimming and can be a real lifesaver if he gets into trouble.

If you’re on a boat and your dog slips overboard, grab the handle and keep him close to the boat until you’re able to lift him to safety.

8. Swimming lessons are easier with a dog life vest

standly dog life vest

A life jacket can boost the confidence of dogs who are new to swimming and help them have more fun in the water. Dog life jackets like the Granby are great floatation tools for teaching your dog to swim.

Dogs often use only their front legs to swim when they are unsure in the water, causing them to tire out easily. Life jackets help keep dogs buoyant on the surface of the water and encourage the use of all four legs when swimming.

9. Peace of mind

flat faced dogs

A day out on the water should be fun for the whole family, but it’s difficult to kick back and relax if you’re worried about your dog’s safety!

Having a life jacket on your dog will give you peace of mind that he’ll stay afloat, even if he does get into trouble while swimming. Top handles on a dog swim vest could save your pup’s life (much like little Opal, featured in this blog post). It’s a great feeling knowing your furry family member is safe to enjoy himself in the water.

10. Dogs look really cute in life jackets

outward hound granby dog life jacket in camo

Fashion meets function. There’s just no denying it: ripstop dog life jackets are the ultimate fashion statement. And a dog wearing a life jacket is pure, wholesome cuteness the world needs.

Featuring ripstop fabric, high-visibility colors, reflective accents, adjustable quick-release buckles, and dual grab handles, dog life jackets are designed to keep your pup safe in the water – and look cute to boot!

Ready to choose the perfect flotation device for your fun-loving pup this swimming season? Shop life jackets featured in this post!

You can also find our dog life vests at Chewy, Amazon, or your local or your local independent pet store! Be sure to look at our FAQs and size chart to ensure a proper fit for your pup. Available in extra small, small, medium, large, and x-large.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated as of March 2021 to reflect the most up-to-date information.