The Best Dog Life Jackets To Help Your Pup Swim Safely (2024)

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Korin Miller

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Most dogs have some level of skill in the water, but they can only swim for so long. The best dog life jackets provide your pup with support and safety in the water, while being comfortable enough to wear for longer periods of time. Our top pick is the Ruffwear Float Coat for its safety features and top-quality materials, but those with larger dogs may prefer the EzyDog Premium Doggy Flotation Device for its high weight capacity.

Dog life jackets are vital support systems for pets who around water, stresses Brian Collins, DVM, a veterinarian at the Cornell Richard P. Riney Canine Health Center. “A dog life jacket can help dogs swim longer before they get tired, can help weaker dogs swim more safely, can help dogs get physical therapy and exercise, and can help prevent dogs from drowning when they get fatigued or get muscle cramps,” he says. When choosing a life jacket for your pet, consider features like adjustability, breathability and comfort. Handles are a plus, too, so you can grab your dog quickly if needed. Whether you have long boating days ahead or plan to spend time at the beach, these are the best dog life jackets to keep your pup safe in the water.

Best Overall Dog Life Jacket

Packed With Safety And Comfort Features

Ruffwear Float Coat

Sizes: XXS–XL |Colors: Blue, red, orange |Material: Polypropylene, polyester, PVC-free foam and CLPE foam

What we love:

  • Machine washable
  • Excellent padding
  • Spot for LED light

Things to consider:

  • Expensive
  • Sizing may be tricky to figure out

A good dog life jacket needs to fit well, offer superior flotation and be something your pet will actually wear; the Ruffwear Float Coat does that and more. This life jacket has a specialized design with a telescoping neck closure that allows dogs to move freely, raising the odds that your pup will wear it for longer periods of time without protest. The life jacket is made with a mix of soft foam and padded panels to lower the risk of chafing. There are also enhanced features for safety, like a handle that’s easy to grab but that isn’t so high it’s likely to get caught on things. This life jacket has reflective trim and even an extra loop for an LED light for enhanced visibility in dim conditions. A leash attachment allows you to walk your dog right to the dock, and you can choose from three easy-to-spot colors. Once the fun is over, this life jacket can be tossed in the wash.

What the reviews say: Dog owners say this life jacket “fits like a glove” and is easy to adjust as needed. “Dogs are super comfortable wearing these in the water,” shared one. “The handle on the back is great for pulling them onto a dock or paddleboard.”

Best Value Dog Life Jacket

An Affordable Pick That Doesn't Skimp On Support

Outward Hound Granby Splash Dog Life Jacket

Sizes: XS–XL |Colors: Orange, pink, yellow, camo and more|Material: Polyurethane foam, polyester, ripstop material

What we love:

  • Inexpensive
  • Large color section
  • Good under-belly support

Things to consider:

  • No spot for a leash
  • May run large

This Amazon bestseller starts at just $16, which is a tough price to beat. The Outward Hound Granby Splash covers all the basics most dog owners are looking for, including three adjustable straps with buckles to help create a snug fit as well as to get your dog in and out easily. While all of the life jackets on this list have a grab handle, this brand thoughtfully designed its larger vests with two of them, to make it easier to hoist your dog as needed. (Just keep in mind that several reviews say these life jackets run large.) The whole thing is covered in ripstop material to lower the risk it will accidentally get shredded. Choose from a series of fun, bright colors.

What the reviews say: This life jacket gets high praise from pet owners for its impressive features and affordability. “The front piece keeps his head up and the sturdy construction gives me confidence that it will keep him afloat,” said one customer. Another shared that “the handles seem really sturdy so far.”

Best Dog Life Jacket For Large Dogs

Works For Pets 90 Pounds And Up

EzyDog Premium Doggy Flotation Device

Sizes: S–XL |Colors: Yellow, red |Material: Polyester, neoprene, nylon

What we love:

  • Large weight capacity
  • Leash attachment
  • Good adjustment features

Things to consider:

  • Not for dogs under 15 pounds
  • Limited color options

Sizing is important with a dog life vest, and it’s crucial to find one that can keep your pet afloat on demand. The EzyDog Premium Doggy Flotation Device supports dogs over 90 pounds, making it a good option for most larger breeds. This life jacket features a contoured neck float, with two adjustable straps that encircle the chest and stomach to create a snug, comfortable fit. The jacket comes in either yellow or red, and features a grab handle as well as a leash attachment. While the color options are bold, reflective piping makes it easier to see your dog in dimmer lighting. EzyDog has very detailed information about sizing, raising the odds you’ll get the right fit from the start.

What the reviews say: Large dog owners praise this jacket for its high capacity as well as its ability to accommodate different breed builds. “The adjustable straps easily adapt to her disproportionate barrel chest and skinny belly,” said one owner. “The jacket is sporty, so she has full range of motion and the jacket doesn't get in her way or slow her down.”

Best Dog Life Jacket For Small Dogs

Supports Pets 2+ Pounds

Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket

Sizes: XXS–XL |Colors: Yellow, red, pink polka dot and more |Material: Neoprene, mesh, foam

What we love:

  • Available in very small sizes
  • High adjustability
  • Several color options

Things to consider:

  • Not ideal for longer dogs
  • May take time to remove

Life jackets typically have a minimum weight they can support, with some starting at 15 pounds or more. The Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket can fit dogs as small as 2 pounds, making it a great choice for tiny breeds. This life vest has enhanced padding around the chest, as well as a thick belly strap to keep your pet secured and lower the risk they’ll slip out. It also comes in eight colors and patterns, including fun nautical and flame designs. The vest has a ring so you can clip a leash to walk your dog to the water, as well as a top handle for lifting your pet.

What the reviews say: Owners of small dogs say this vest is “perfect” for them. “I have a 4-pound, 7-month-old Yorkie... Everything until now has been too big. This fit perfectly,” shared one. Another said that the jacket “holds up well,” adding, “have had it for a year and no problems.”

Best Dog Life Jacket For Puppies

Adjusts As Your Dog Grows

ZippyPaws Adventure Life Vest

Sizes: XS–XL |Colors: Red, pink, teal |Material: Polyester, foam

What we love:

  • Small sizes
  • Large grab handle
  • Highly adjustable

Things to consider:

  • No D-ring for a leash
  • Limited colors

Puppies grow fast, making it important to buy a life jacket that will support them now and in a month or two. The ZippyPaws Adventure Life Vest works for dogs as small as 5 pounds, making it a good fit for most breeds. But it also offers high adjustability thanks to two straps around the belly and one at the chest, raising the odds you’ll get extra mileage out of this life jacket. The jacket has a generous handle on top to help lift your new swimmer in and out of the water, along with reflective stripes for easy spotting. Enhanced padding around the chest is designed to keep your pet comfortable in and out of the water.

What the reviews say: Several owners report that they bought this for puppies and have gotten plenty of wear out of the jacket. “I bought this for my puppy when he was 4 months old, and he is 6.5 months old now. I am pretty sure he is going to be able to wear it for a while longer,” said one. Another shared that the vest “goes on easy and looks solid.”

Most Fashionable Dog Life Jacket

A Pick That's Both Fun And Functional

LandShark Pet Life Jacket

Sizes: XS–XL |Colors: Yellow/blue |Material: Neoprene, nylon, foam

What we love:

  • Adorable design
  • Several adjustment points
  • Large grab handles

Things to consider:

  • May be too heavy for smaller dogs
  • Fin can make handle hard to grab

There’s no rule that says your dog’s life vest can’t be fun, too. The LandShark Pet Life Jacket has a cute accessory in the form of a giant shark fin on the back. This life vest is more than fashionable, though. It features a heavy-duty zipper to get your dog in and out, along with two buckles around the belly and a large buckle in front. Grab handles on either side of the fin give you two spots to hoist your pet up as needed. Reflectors on the handle enhance visibility at dawn and dusk, and padded neoprene keeps dogs comfortable in and out of the water.

What the reviews say: The word “adorable” comes up a lot in reviews for this life jacket. “Absolutely adorable and a great conversation starter between dog lovers,” said an owner. A fellow fan said that this is “one of the best vests out there,” adding that it’s “easy to get on.”

Best Dog Life Jacket For Long Dogs

Three Straps To Keep Your Pet Secure

Hurtta Life Savior

Sizes: 0–10 pounds to 80–160 pounds |Colors: Orange, coral camo, peaco*ck |Material: Polyethersulfone, polyester, foam, twill

What we love:

  • Made with recycled materials
  • Stainless steel leash ring
  • Grab handle is easy to grasp

Things to consider:

  • Some colors can be pricey
  • Sizing may be tough to get right

Long dogs can be tough to fit, given their unconventional shape. The Hurtta Life Savior has a wide size range, along with two buckles at the belly, giving you plenty of room for adjustability and a snug fit. The vest is designed for a lightweight feel and to give your dog plenty of movement in the water. There’s also extra padding in the chest and back to keep your dog upright, with their head out of water. Enjoy added features like a roomy handle, stainless steel leash ring and three adjustment points to keep your dog securely in their vest, no matter their size.

What the reviews say: Owners of larger dogs say the Hurtta Life Savior is a good fit. “The fit is perfect for her size,” shared one. “She is a pretty big-chested dog, but still room for growth.” Another said that their dogs “were able to comfortably move around and swim without anything hurting them or restricting their movements.”

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Why Trust Forbes Vetted

The Forbes Vetted home editors have years of experience testing, researching and reviewing the top products for the home and for pets. We’ve published countless expert-backed roundups on pet gear, including the best dog beds, dog food delivery services and cat collars.

  • The Forbes Vetted home team includes three seasoned editors: deputy editor Rebekah Lowin, senior editor Amanda Arnold and editor Sholeen Damarwala.
  • Korin Miller, the author of this piece, is a regular contributor with more than a decade of experience covering home, pet and lifestyle topics.
  • To enhance knowledge of the best dog life vests, Miller consulted with Brian Collins, DVM, a veterinarian at the Cornell Richard P. Riney Canine Health Center and Stacie Atria, DVM, a veterinarian at Lotus Veterinary Alternatives. Both offered advice on what to look for in the jackets, as well as features for pet parents to be aware of.

How We Chose The Best Dog Life Jackets

To find the best dog life jackets, we analyzed the market, sorting through dozens of popular products. We compared features and asked veterinarians for insight.

  • The Forbes Vetted home editorial team focused on dog life jackets from trusted brands like Ruffwear and LandShark.
  • Each life jacket was analyzed for features such as materials, size options and adjustability.
  • Customer reviews and average star ratings were taken into careful account. We selected models that have at least an average rating of 4 stars, with only a negligible amount of concerning reviews, if any.
  • The final life vests that made this list are the results of in-depth research conducted by our writer and vetting by the editorial team.

What To Look For In The Best Dog Life Jackets

The right life vest can make a big difference in safety and comfort of your pet in the water. Consider these options as you shop.

Sizing

Most dog life jackets will have clear sizing options available, along with a size guide. Read the sizing guide and take careful measurements of your pet to make sure a life vest you’re interested in will fit. Keep in mind that many life jackets have a minimum and maximum weight. You’ll want to ensure that your dog will fit within this range.

Safety Features

Aside from flotation, many dog life jackets will offer added features to keep your pet safe in and around the water. Those include reflector strips, a leash ring and handles to make it easy to get your dog in and out of the water.

Comfort

Having a comfortable life vest will raise the odds your dog will wear theirs without protest. “When selecting a dog life jacket, look for one with adjustable straps to ensure a snug fit,” says Dr. Stacie Atria, a veterinarian at Lotus Veterinary Alternatives. “The jacket should be comfortable enough for extended wear and not impede the dog’s natural movement in the water.”

What Is The Best Dog Life Jacket?

The best dog life jacket is ultimately one that will meet the needs of you and your pet. “Wearing something snug like this can contribute to overheating, so an ideal design should allow breathability and for quicker drying,” Collins says. “Obviously, most of all the jacket should keep your dog buoyant.” A design that allows your dog to have a good range of motion is also ideal. We like the Ruffwear Float Coat for its smart design, high adjustability and ability to be tossed in the wash.

Korin Miller

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