Life jackets keep furry friends safe while out on the water

Life jackets keep furry friends safe while out on the water

Whether they walk on two legs or four, water safety for everyone should always be considered.

Taking a trip to a Texas river or reservoir is a family affair, including the furry members. Life jackets are essential to carry on board and are not just for humans. 

Personal floatation devices (PFD) for pets have gained popularity over recent years. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), there are several benefits to having a PFD for your pet. Not every breed of dog, or other furry friends, are natural swimmers. The AKC said that dogs like retrievers and spaniels could be considered natural swimmers, but others, such as bulldogs, have body types less suited for water. 

Regardless of whether your dog is a good swimmer, the AKC warns that every dog can tire, have issues staying buoyant and struggle to keep their heads above water. 

When looking for a life jacket for your dog, there are several items to consider. First, there is a difference between a dog life vest and life jacket. A life jacket covers more of your dog and provides the required buoyancy and visibility. The AKC said that life vests are typically lighter than life jackets and primarily used for dogs who casually swim, like at a pool. 

If you pick a life jacket, AKC recommends finding a one with a handle, which would make it easier for you to grab hold of your dog if needed. This also makes it easier to teach your dog how to swim, should you need to. The life jacket should also have a D-ring, which is where you can attach a leash. Though life jackets can come in any color, the AKC recommends finding one that is bright in color or has a reflective strip to make them easier to spot. 

According to the Boat U.S. Foundation, there isn’t a set standard in dog life jacket designs and there isn’t certification on them from the U.S. Coast Guard. With this in mind, it is up to the owner to find a suitable jacket for their dog. 

The Boat U.S. Foundation also notes that when picking a life jacket for your pup, think about the intended “use” of it. If the life jacket is going to be used for dogs aboard a boat all day and as a safety precaution, owners could consider a minimal and comfortable life jacket. If a dog will be swimming, and that is its primary use, a secured and fitted larger life jacket could be considered. 

The Boat U.S. Foundation recommends these tips when shopping for a dog’s life jacket: 

  • Know your dog’s chest girth in inches, back length in inches and weight before you shop
  • Sizes range from S-XL but sizing isn’t always consistent
  • Take your pet with you when shopping for a dog life jacket
  • The more adjustments, buckles, closures, the better the final fit

You can learn more about how to pick a life jacket here