The Best Dog Life Vests and Jackets in 2023
Whether your dog is an experienced swimmer who loves the water, or one who prefers to stay on dry land, investing in a life jacket for them is good for several reasons. Not unlike humans, life jackets are intended to project your dog’s life in case of accidents and provide support if they get tired in the water. From fun, water-based vacations to having “just in case of emergencies”, this item can easily keep your sweet furry family member safe.
There are a number of decent life jackets on the market, but some are better made than others. In order to save you time as you search for the best one, we’ve reviewed and compiled a list of the 6 best ones you can find for your dog. While each of these on the list is here for a reason, there are pros and cons to each of these depending on your intended use.
Our Top List
Last update on 2023-09-16 at 05:07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
1. Ruffwear Float Coat – Dog Life Jacket
This initial life jacket for your dog checks off many of the things on your ‘needs to have’ list. Not only does it come in solid, easily visible colors, it was also designed for you to attach tube lights* to the vest for ideal low-light visibility. It also comes in 6 different sizes, which is the average range, and the closures are all adjustable so you can find the best fit for your dog.
One of the safety features unique to this vest is the closed cell foam panels that are used throughout the design. These will naturally keep (or return) your dog to his/her upright position if they end up underwater or upside down. Additionally, like most good vests, you also have a handle on the back so you can easily lift your dog out of the water.
- Utilizes closed cell foam panels that will keep your dog upright in the water
- Neck closures are adjustable for best fit
- 6 sizes and 4 solid color choices
- Side-release buckles allow you to easily put this on / take this off
- 6 different size options, fits very well
- Designed so you can attach actual lights to the vest (sold separately)
- Not breathable material, can get a little warm
2. EzyDog Doggy Flotation Vest
If your dog is not as strong of a swimmer this life vest may be the best option. It is incredibly buoyant and is intended more to keep your dog afloat than helping him/her swim. It comes in the standard 6 sizes and has reflective trim that runs throughout the vest for best visibility.
Not only is this designed to be a dependable flotation device for your dog, it also has the closing buckles on top of the best (rather than under his/her belly) which helps in getting this on your dog with the least struggle. Both the back straps and the chest clips are adjustable, allowing you to have the best fit.
- Adjustable buckles are on top of the vest for easy attachment
- Highly buoyant
- Back-placed carrying handle
- 6 sizes and 3 solid color options
- Contoured neck flotation for maximum comfort
- Reflective trim
- Not breathable, can get warm
3. Paws Aboard Pet Life Jacket
For those of you who want your dog to look stylish near the water, this option will rise to the top. Rather than the standard solid colors, here is the first product on the list that provides 5 different patterns to help your dog both stand out and be safe. Additionally, this vest also come with a D-ring that allows you to attach his/her leash to the vest.
While the vest isn’t inherently breathable, it is made of quick-dry neoprene fabric and has a nice amount of buoyancy. The sizes tend to run large and the clips on both the under-belly and chest straps adjust for best fit. The only thing to note here is that if you use this regularly (e.g. every weekend all summer) it tends to wear out at a faster pace and may need to be replaced seasonally.
- D-Ring for leash attachment
- Quick-dry fabric that is naturally buoyant
- 6 sizes and 5 patterns to choose from
- Includes D-ring for leash attachment
- Reflective tape throughout for visibility
- Adjustable clips for best sizing
- Not durable enough materials for regular use (e.g. weekly)
4. Outward Hound Granby Splash Jacket
If you’re looking for a life vest for your dog that works best in emergency situations, this vest is definitely one to consider. It is the only vest here on this list with two handles to help with grab and rescue. Additionally, while it may be considered a negative element for some, the clips both under your dogs’ belly and on the chest have limited adjustment capabilities, ensuring a snug fit.
Lastly, like some of the better vests on this list, the neck area of this vest is reinforced with foam paneling to ensure your dog’s head stays afloat if they find themselves in the water.
- Two handles for easy lifting
- Secure neck float reinforced with foam panel
- 5 size options in 2 colors
- Reflective piping
- Two handles on top of the vest
- Adjustable chest strap and clips
- No D-ring for leash attachment
5. Haocoo Life Vest – Funny Safety Swimsuit
For those with dogs who need accommodating sizes this brand gives you the widest range of sizes – going up to XXL. Additionally you’ll have 10 color/design options to choose from. Not only is there a wide range of sizes and colors, it comes with reflective strips throughout and a heavy-duty reinforced D-ring that lets you attach a leash.
Like all good vests the clips are adjustable (with 2 underneath your dogs belly and 1 on their chest). The brand does tend to run small, so you may want to go a size up compared to your normal size in order to ensure it fits nicely. Lastly, the under-neck piece of this is equipped with a front-float feature that helps to keep your dogs’ head afloat.
- Adjustable clips for belly and neck
- Front-float assist to keep your dogs’ face above water
- 7 sizes and 10 colors/designs
- Heavy-duty D-ring for leash attachment
- Equipped with front-float assist
- Quick-release buckles for easy take-off
- Sizes tend to run small and there are no easily found sizing charts
6. Paws Aboard Jacket for Swimming & Boating
If your dog is already a strong swimmer and you’re looking to supplement that with a vest to ensure they can stay in the water for an extended time, this life vest is an ideal option. It has a nice range of adjustability in both the belly and chest clips, and the mesh underbelly is sure to keep your dog cool as they spend their time in and out of the water.
One this to note is that in many cases, the backside of the vest that sits on your dogs back is long, causing problems, especially for male dogs. Additionally, it is recommended for strong(er) swimmers since this vest is not reinforced with anything that will naturally return your dog to an upright position in the event they are flipped over in the water.
- Made with mesh underbelly to support ventilation
- D-ring for leash attachment
- 6 sizes offered in 8 colors/patterns
- Underbelly of vest made with mesh
- D-ring for leash attachment
- Handle on back for lifting
- Doesn’t have extra padding to support floating
Verdict & Review
Ruffwear Float Coat Dog Life Jacket for Swimming
Be it for sunny days you want to spend on your boat, or if you live in an area prone to flooding or hurricanes, investing in a good life vest for your dog is sure to pay off in the end. While each of the 6 choices here are good for various reasons, the best in our assessment would be the first vest by Ruffwear.
While the Ruffwear vest shares many of the same features as the other vests on this list, it leads when it comes to overall fit and stability; the vest gives the best, closest fit to your pet. This will in turn ensure he/she has the best support. Additionally, this vest has one of the best built-in foam systems and is one of the few designed to return your dog to an upright position in the event they flip over in the water.
Here we’ve given you the best 6 life vests for your dog and outlined what we believe to be the best one overall. However, ‘best’ can be subjective and in the end, you are the only one to determine which option is best for you. To help you sort through the various features shared between vests, and to highlight key differences, here are some helpful tips for you as you browse:
Size of your dog: Knowing the size of your dog as you begin life vest shopping is going to eliminate a lot of your headache. It will ensure you likely purchase the correctly sized vest that will be the most comfortable and allow the most maneuverability for your dog. It’s also good to keep in mind your dogs overall shape, do they have a longer spine, is their neck a bit shorter, etc. If your dog doesn’t run ‘standard size’ you may want to keep to the vests that have the best adjustability. This will help you make the best choice when it comes to fitting.
Intended use: In addition to knowing the size of your dog, jot down what you’re going to be using this for. For some, it’s only in case of emergencies, for others it is for weekend excursions on a boat. The intended use will help you sort out what you’ll need and how durable (or not) you’ll need the vest to be.
Ideal features: Once the more important stuff is sorted out, you should also consider the features you’ll find most useful such as having a vest with a D-ring, or where the buckles are going to clip. You can also consider colors and styling as well, since the vests are part of your dog’s wardrobe.
Comfort: Lastly, a good tip for those who don’t often put their dogs into a harness of any kind – try a walking harness for a few days/weeks in order to help your dog get used to the feeling of something around their torso and chest/neck. This is important to do in advance so that when they go to put this on, it’s comfortable and doesn’t induce anxiety (especially since they’ll need this in/near water).
We are the Pet Dog Pals, a group of avid pet owners, bloggers, product testers, and writers for all your canine needs! We own a collective 16 dogs and 21 cats to help us test and review pet products. Our top lists and tips come from experience to help you be the best dog owner you can be!