What to Look for in a Dog Life Jacket

A dog life jacket is essential if you are taking your dog on a boat. Pet owners and dogs who frequent water holes and rivers also benefit from wearing a life jacket. If your pet does accidentally fall into a fast moving river, the life jacket can save his life.

Measuring for the Best Dog Life Jacket Size

Shopping for a life jacket requires some measurements. Don't choose a life jacket if you have not measured your dog's length, neck girth, weight and body. If the life jacket is too loose, your dog could slip out of it while in the water. Every manufacturer is different, so you cannot rely on a one-size-fits-all system.

When measuring a dog's length, measure from the base of your pet's tail to the neck. Choose a point on the neck where the dog's collar usually sits. This gives you the body length. For neck girth, again stick to the point where the dog's collar usually sits.

Body girth is taken at the chest. The chest area is usually the widest part of a dog, so make sure this is where you are measuring. If you get the wrong body girth, your dog life jacket is likely to be too constricting and impossible to fasten.

Once you have the measurements, consult the life jacket's size guide. If any of your measurements are on the borderline between sizes, go for the larger size. Adjustable straps will help ensure the fit.

Features You'll Want in a Dog Life Jacket

You'll find prices vary between life jacket manufacturers. While you can base your final decision on price, there are features you should consider.

Make sure your dog's life jacket has a carrying strap on the back. You'll use this strap to lift the dog from the water, so it's essential to have.

Look for adjustable straps to ensure the best possible fit. Velcro straps are commonly used in life vests, just make sure they allow you enough room for adjustments if your dog gains or loses weight.

Choose life jackets that have D-rings attached to the back of the life vest. When you're walking back to a vehicle or back to your property, you can hook a leash to your dog's life vest and not have to worry about having an additional harness or collar on hand.

Dog life jackets fitted with reflective straps or created from fluorescent materials are optimal. Should your dog fall into the water at night, you still should be able to spot him. Plus, the reflective material makes the dog visible to passing cars while you're walking back to a parking lot or on the road.

Brands of Dog Life Vests

There are two popular companies offering life vests for dogs. Body Glove and Paws Aboard are found in many specialty pet stores and some department stores.

Body Glove life preservers for dogs feature foam material to ensure your pet remains floating. The material dries quickly and features zippered pockets for storage.

Paws Aboard features mesh underbelly material for quick drying. All models feature a strap on the back and reflective strips.