Life Jackets for Dogs Guide - 2023

Canoes and Kayaks

When going for a water adventure, most dog parents worry about the safety of their pets when bringing them along for the ride. Of course, dogs can swim, but one can never be too confident regarding their security and protection.

This is why most people prefer a dog life jacket. When choosing a life jacket, getting the right size is of the utmost significance. Other than that, try going for bright colors for added visibility. Even better if your dog’s life jacket has reflective stripes.

dog life jacket

Does Your Dog Need a Life Jacket?

Dogs should always wear life jackets even if they know how to swim. So whether they are swimming in the lake or on a kayak, they should have dog life jackets. Dog life jackets come with safety handles that make it easy to grab onto the dog in case they fall into the water. It’s a small price to pay for ease of mind.

What Features Does a Dog Jacket Need?

The best dog life jackets must have these four features; visibility, buoyancy, flotation, and handles. Bright colors and reflective panels will make your dog visible, buoyancy and flotation to keep your dog afloat, and handles to retrieve dogs easily.

How to Fit and Measure a Dog Life Jacket

It’s best to take your dog to the store and try on life jackets to see which one fits well. If ordering online, go through the size chart and policies mentioned on your desired jacket’s website and then make your dog’s measurements. For the perfect fit, make sure you know your dog’s weight, the measurement of its circumference (width of the ribcage), back measurement (from the base of the head to the tail), and neck measurement. 

To put the life jacket on your dog, take the following steps:

  • Unfasten all the straps of the life jacket.
  • With your dog in a standing position, put the life jacket on its back.
  • Ensure the jacket is centered at the back and not tilted to the right or left sides.
  • If there are any collar or chin straps, fasten them.
  • Then fasten the underbelly straps and buckles. If the jacket is a little loose, you can tighten it by fastening the underbelly flaps. However, be sure that it is not too tight. 
  • One way to see if it is a good fit: the jacket should end a little above the tail. This way, dogs will have plenty of room to wag their tails, keep themselves afloat, and be comfortable.

Tip: When using the jacket for the first time, let your dog wear it a few times before the actual day. Let them run around and spend a little time in their life jacket. This will not only make them used to the jacket but will also surface underlying issues, if any. So you will have plenty of time to fix these before the event day.

dog life jacket best

How To Get Your Dog Used To Wearing a Life Jacket

To get your dog used to wearing a life jacket, you must employ the same methods when training them. If your dog is well-behaved and obedient, you may not have to work too hard.

Most dogs may not be comfortable wearing a life jacket for long hours, so you must gently ease them into the idea. The easiest way is to get your dogs to associate life jackets with fun and happiness. That way, they will be excited when putting them on.

Here’s how you can do it. Show your dog the life jacket and feed it some high-value treats or anything they love. Then, hide the vest, and repeat the same a few times. Once your dog is used to seeing the jacket, move on to the next step.

Hold the jacket unfastened and invite it to walk into the jacket, of course with the reward of some treats. This is important: don’t force your dog into the jacket as this might scare them. Instead, when comfortable with wearing the jacket, keep it on your dog and gradually increase the period.
This is how you can get your dog used to wearing life jackets.

Top 7 Dog Life Jackets

Ruffwear Dog Life Jacket

Sizes available: xx-small to x-large
Colors available: Blue dusk, Red Sumac, Wave Orange

One of the best dog life jackets out there, Ruffwear is loved by many dog parents. It has a soft and comfortable design that fits snugly around the dog’s body – not weighing too heavily and leaving plenty of room for movement. At around $90 some believe that it’s pretty expensive compared to other market options. However, with the range of benefits Ruffwear offers, we believe it is still pretty good value.

What we like:
✅ Snug fit
✅ Soft, flexible, and streamlined foam

We don’t like:
⛔️ Expensive

Outward Hound

Sizes available: x-small to x-large
Colors available: Orange, camo, pink, yellow, blue, green, red

The Outward Hound life jacket comes in various styles for different purposes. ‘Granby’ for flotation, ‘Dawson’ for warmth, and ‘Standley’ for a sporty design. It has options of bright colors that have reflective accents, so you will not have to worry about safety. Although it is said to be novice swimmer friendly, it provides little flotation support and would be best suited for an experienced swimmer.  This is the highest selling dog life jacket on Amazon.

What we like:
✅ Made from quality materials; durable
✅ It comes with straps that can be cinched tight to fit the dog perfectly

We don’t like:
⛔️ The neck strap tends to loosen with use


Sizes available: x-small to x-large
Colors available: Red, blue-green

Kurgo has made its name on the best dog life jackets list. This is because it provides excellent flotation support, has vibrant colors, is adjustable, and fits perfectly as per the size chart (something that has been a recurring problem with other brands). Some customers from Amazon have reported some minor issues with the stitching around the straps requiring reinforcement. We reckon it’s still a good option for your pooch.

What we like:
✅ Provides good floatation support
✅ Superb customer service

We don’t like:
⛔️ Loops for the straps are not stitched tight

Paws Aboard Dog Life Jacket

Sizes available: xx-small to x-large
Colors available: Gray camo, pink, racing flames, blue & yellow, red, nautical dog, neon yellow, pink polka dot

Paws Aboard life jackets come with a variety of colors to choose from. Moreover, the color scheme is unique so you can spot your dog at a distance. It is a comfortable, snug fit, so doggies do not mind wearing it for long! It has straps that can be adjusted for better fitting. But if you are a regular kayaker, Paws Aboard may not be a good choice since it is not durable, and the material starts ripping with recurrent usage.

What we like:
✅ Good fit with a comfortable design
✅ Good buoyancy

We don’t like:
⛔️ Not durable


Sizes available: xx-small to x-large
Colors available: Blue, bright green, bright orange, bright pink, bright yellow, camo blue, camo pink, pink, sakura pink, yellow

Vivaglory is a good option for novice doggie swimmers as the extra padding gives good buoyancy. Moreover, the handles on the jacket make it easy to retrieve dogs in case they fall off the kayak. The price is not too bad either. The only drawback with this vest is that it can be difficult to get the right size. 

What we like:
✅ Sturdy
✅ Good price

We don’t like:
⛔️ Size issues

Ezy Dog

Sizes available: x-small to x-large
Colors available: Red, yellow

The Ezy dog life jacket is one of the best dog life jackets out there. It has a sleek and slim design that fits great. If your dog is between two sizes, they recommend going for the smaller size. It has excellent buoyancy so that it can keep your dog afloat. Unfortunately, as with many other dog life jackets, Ezy Dog also seems to have issues with durability around the stitching with a small number of customers. It’s pricing comes in at around $85 making it one of the most expensive dog life jackets on the market.  Overall this is a great life jacket for dogs. 

What we like:
✅ Fits well
✅ Slim and sleek design

We don’t like:
⛔️ Expensive

Bess Bridal

Sizes available: x-small to xx-large
Colors available: Green, gray shark, pink mermaid, green mermaid, blue shark

Bess Bridal is a popular choice among the best dog life jackets available. We can safely assume it has something to do with the ultra-cute shark-fin design. It has adjustment belts that can be used to tune the jacket according to the dog’s body. However, Bess Bridal may be a bit bulky for some dogs, such as Chow Chows, and they may get hot wearing it. This is a super cute dog life jacket selling at around $32 on Amazon. 

What we like:
✅ The shark fin design adds visibility that is not possible with regular designs
✅ Sturdy

We don’t like:
⛔️ The jacket may be a bit bulky for some dogs


Taking your dog out on a water trip is fun not just for you but also for them. It is essential to ensure their safety first. We have listed the best dog life jackets available on the market. Make your pick carefully after going through the features such as design, color, and buoyancy, as well as each jacket’s pros and cons.

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