One of the most intriguing questions we’ve heard from a number of dog owners is related to the use of life jackets for dogs. It is quite easy why a lot of folks are actually baffled by the notion of putting on a flotation device on your pooch. However, even the most seasoned of swimmers can meet his match especially with the unpredictability of Mother Nature. It is hence the purpose of this guide to shed light into this ‘intrigue’ and give you a heads-up on the best dog life jackets currently in the market.
Dog Life Jacket Buying Guide
There are some folks that simply do not appreciate the value of having dogs wear a life jacket that is specifically designed for them. In the succeeding sections, we’ll try to understand the rational underpinnings of the use of such device in dogs, the various activities wherein such contraptions can be used, the things you need to look for when purchasing one, measuring your dog’s size, and a review of some safety tips whenever your pooch is going to use any of these devices.
Why Do Dogs Need a Life Jacket?
The most important thing to remember is that all organisms, humans and dogs included, will always have moments of vulnerability. They may fall sick, become injured, or simply grow tired of constantly paddling their feet in an effort to stay afloat. Even the most veteran of professional swimmers will admit that it is virtually impossible to survive in the open seas without some form of tool that will help you stay afloat. The point is that the body of an organism, be it human or dog, has its limitations.
The same is true with dogs. They may be bred specifically to swim, but strong currents can literally suck them under the water and fade away from our memories forever. Or, they can suffer muscular problems while paddling on calmer waters. Or, dogs simply reached their exhaustion limits that they no longer have the strength to keep on swimming.
Then, there is also the question of breed adaptability. Some breeds are born to swim, yes. But there are also breeds that are simply not born to be Michael Phelps or the average Joe in your neighborhood swimming class. There are also dogs that have joint problems. Lastly, we never trained our dog how to behave in case it fell into the water by accident.
Are Dog Life Jackets Just for Boat Trips?
There are a lot of factors that need to be considered when employing the use of such devices. However, as a general rule, we always tell our friends to consider letting their pooches wear an appropriate dog life jacket whenever they go in the water, regardless of what type or body of water that may be.
For instance, having a great day in your swimming pool will typically require canine life vest especially if you have a pooch that is a bit skittish going into the water. If you have an elderly pooch or a dog that is suffering from arthritis or other joint problems such as hip dysplasia, then assisting them in their hydrotherapy can be made a lot easier if they are wearing a life vest.
What to Look for in a Dog Life Jacket
Choosing the right life jacket for your pooch is almost the same as picking the right one for yourself. There are simply certain things that you really have to look for. Here are some of them.
- Correct size
It goes without saying that getting the correct size of canine life jacket is crucial to optimizing the benefits of these devices.
This goes hand in hand with getting the correct size of the contraption. It is perfectly okay to get something a little bigger than the actual measurements of your pooch as long as the gadget comes with fully adjustable mechanisms.
There are a variety of materials that are used in canine life vests. Your choices usually range from neoprene to nylon to oxford and a whole lot more.
This is more often a function of the material that is used in the construction of the doggie life vest. Some materials are quite rough that somehow scrape your dog’s skin, leading to irritation and perhaps even inflammation. Something soft and cushiony should do the job.
You may have to look for additional padding or buoyant mechanisms to help keep your pooch afloat. Anxious dogs will usually require more buoyancy since they can struggle in the water. There are also dogs that are definitely heavier than normal, so they too will need more flotation.
If your pooch is going to use the life vest in your swimming pool, it really doesn’t matter what color you choose. However, if we’re talking about the open seas or even a large lake, you’ll need a really bright colored life vest to get your attention even from a distance. This is because of the tiny reflections made by the sun’s rays against the shifting current making it super easy to miss a dog that has a life vest if its life jacket happens to be in a color that hardly gets your attention.
When it comes to security features, we’re essentially talking about the straps, buckles, and even grab handle. The latter is an absolute must especially if you’re in rough or deep waters. You would want to have a mechanism with which to easily haul your pooch into your boat.
How to Measure Your Dog
As we have mentioned above, we are dedicating this small section to help you find the right size of life vest for your pooch. There are three measurements that you need to take from your dog.
This relates to your pet’s chest circumference or that part of its body that is the widest. This is usually in the area just behind its front legs. Use your cloth tape measure and wrap it around this widest section of its body.
Take your cloth tape measure and stretch it along the length of your pet’s back with the tip of the tape measure located just at the area where its neck meets its back. Extend the tape measure until about two to three inches before the tail joins the back. This is your length measurement.
The weight of your pooch matters since the amount of buoyancy will depend on this. Remember, the heavier the pooch the greater buoyant force will be needed.
Now, take those measurements and use this to determine the right kind of life jacket for your pet.
Safety Tips for Using a Life Jacket
Without a doubt life jackets save lives, even that of your beloved pooch. Here are some tips to help you optimize the safety properties of your dog’s life jacket.
- Train your pooch to love wearing the life vest. Train it to swim with the life vest on as well. This is the single most important thing that you can do to improve the safety of the canine life vest.
- It is critical to choose the right life jacket for your pooch with respect to its size, weight, and general behavior in the water. Choosing the right safety color and other safety features is also a must.
- Make sure to secure all straps and closure mechanisms even before you board your boat or get into the water.
- Consider the life vest that is appropriate for the type of water activity that your pooch will be engaging in. Swimming in pools will typically have laxer requirements while those used in open seas will come with stricter rules.
- Don’t let your pooch swim in your swimming pool alone even if it has a flotation device. Your supervision is an absolute must.
- If you’re riding a boat, make sure to secure your pooch on its leash. Always make it a point to stay with your pooch at all times since sharp turns can easily send your pet overboard. That said, don’t let your pooch stand on the deck, too as this is usually slippery.
Life jackets are important pieces of safety devices for both humans and dogs. However, to really optimize the safety benefits of such a device, it is imperative that we train our dogs and to never leave them out of our sight. Remember, even the strongest swimmer can still fall prey to the wrath of Mother Nature’s waters. And you can start improving your dog’s safety in water with these dog life jackets we have featured in this post.