The Best Dog Life Vests

Some dogs love the water. Swimming, playing fetch, “catching” fish – there are plenty of activities for dogs to enjoy while at sea or on the lake. However, while many dogs are great swimmers, even the best paddlers can only swim for so long. If an unfortunate disaster was to take place while you were out on a boat, the likelihood of your dog swimming to safety is just as high as yours. Just like children and adults, all dogs should be outfitted in a lifejacket just in case.

Searching for the perfect lifejacket can be somewhat confusing, however. There are just so many sizes and designs. How are you supposed to know which one is the best? On our search for the best dog life jacket out there, we reviewed dozens of products. We rated each life vest based on customer reviews, effectiveness, extra features, size options, color, and many more.

Top pick
Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket

Meet the best dog life jacket on the market.

$16.80 USD

The Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket stood out as the best option available. With bright orange coloring and reflective piping, this life jacket ensures complete visibility while also providing neck floats to keep your dog’s head above water.

The 5 Top-Rated Dog Life Vests for 2018

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best OverallOutward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket 4.4
Runner UpVivaglory New Sports Style Dog Life Jacket4.6
Best Budget BuyThe Premium Neoprene Dog Life Jacket4.6
Best Small DogPetCee Dog Life Jacket3.9
Best Large DogPaws Aboard Neoprene Doggy Red Life Jacket
4.4

*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

Our Top Pick: Outward Hound Grandy Dog Life Jacket

The Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket has every feature you could ever want in your canine’s life vest. It comes with rescue handles to make it easy to pull your dog out of the water. The exact number of handles depends on the size of the life vest; the medium size and up have two handles, while the small and extra-small only have one. Having dual handles makes it easier to pull larger dogs out of the water. Instead of struggling with just one grip, you can use both hands for extra leverage. The life vest is also made with a durable, ripstop material that does not restrict movement. Your dog can swim freely while you can relax knowing the jacket will perform in an emergency.

The vest is also designed to provide a perfect fit, which is extremely necessary when it comes to life vests. The jacket comes in five different sizes. Which size your pooch is depends on their circumference and can be determined by a simple measurement. The product also has a sizing chart on Amazon to help you identify the perfect fit. Both the belly buckles and chest straps are also entirely adjustable to ensure a tight fit.

On top of this, the vest also comes in a number of bright colors to ensure easy visibility. The jacket also comes with reflective piping to increase nighttime visibility. The last thing you want to do is to lose sight of your dog after an accident, and this vest helps ensure that that won’t happen.

Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket Key Features:

  • 5 sizes available
  • Neck float to keep your dog’s head above water
  • Handles for easy rescue
  • Adjustable straps
  • Bright colors and reflective accent

Our Runner-Up Pick: Vivaglory New Sports Style Dog Life Jacket

Runner-Up
Vivaglory New Sports Style Dog Life Jacket

With high levels of buoyant materials, this is a perfect option for your water-loving canine.  

$25.99 USD

Featuring a sports-style design that does not hinder your canine’s movement, the Vivaglory New Sports Style Dog Life Jacket is a great option for active, water-loving canines. It provides strategic neck floats to keep your pooch’s head above water even after they get tired, while also not putting them into an unnatural swimming position. This life vest has also passed the CA65 standard, which means that it has been tested thoroughly to ensure that it meets high-quality standards. It also contains much more buoyant material than other dog life vests – up to 50% more actually! This life vest provides both optimal protection and comfort at the same time.

One of the main reasons that this is our runner-up pick and not our top-pick is due to the color choices. This life vest comes in 8 different colors, but only three of these colors are particularly bright. The other five colors range from only moderately bright to completely dark and do not provide much helping in visually locating your dog. If you choose to go with this option, we suggest picking one of the brighter colors such as the orange or pink. Still, this jacket does come with reflective details to help you find your pet at night, which does help with visibility.

Vivaglory New Sports Style Dog Life Jacket Key Features:

  • One rescue handle
  • 50% more buoyant material than other life vests
  • 4 different size options
  • Neck floatation
  • Reflective markings

Best Budget Pick: Premium Neoprene Dog Life Jacket

Best Budget
Premium Neoprene Dog Life Jacket

A great option for budget-conscious pet owners.

$22.99 USD

Looking for an inexpensive life vest for your water-unsure canine? The Premium Neoprene Dog Life Jacket provides key safety features while also fitting into nearly any budget at only 17 dollars. This life jacket contains multiple, built-in flotation layers, which increases buoyancy without becoming overly bulky. On top of this, it is also designed with your dog’s comfort in mind, with a body-conforming design to both provides maximum comfort and security. This feature prevents the vest from hindering your pet’s movement while also ensuring that the fit is proper.

This life vest comes in 5 sizes. Which size your dog needs is determined using both chest and neck girth. Amazon has a sizing chart to ensure that you pick out the correct size for your particular canine. If your dog is close to the maximum on any scale, it is recommended that you buy the next size up for comfort. It also comes in 5 different colors. All of which are bright and appropriate. However, not all sizes are available in all colors, so be sure to double-check your canine’s size before deciding on which color to get.

Like many life vests, this product also comes with a number of safety features to help keep your canine alive should an accident occur. With padded neck support, it helps keep your pet’s head above water after they become tired. A durable rescue handle allows you to pull your pet out of the water quickly and a built-in D-ring enables leash control. Quick-release buckles also let you quickly get the life jacket off of your pooch if necessary.

Premium Neoprene Dog Life Jacket Key Features:

  • Comfortable, neoprene material
  • Built-in flotation layers
  • Padded neck support
  • Rescue handle
  • D-ring for leash

Best Small Dog life Jacket: PetCee Dog Life Jacket

Small Dog
PetCee Dog Life Jacket

Lightweight with four different size measurements to ensure a perfect fit for smaller dogs.

$7.99 USD

The PetCee Dog Life Jacket uses four different measurements to determine your canine’s size to guarantee that you chose the perfect size for your small dog. These measurements include weight, neck girth, chest girth, and back length. Furthermore, it also comes in extra-small for those tiny dogs that weight below ten pounds. If your pooch is in between sizes, the company recommends choosing the bigger size. Customers loved that the life jacket was lightweight enough for even smaller dogs to wear it comfortably. This vest is also great for poor or beginner swimmers. It has a unique head support float that keeps your pet’s neck above water even when they can’t do it themselves.

This life vests also have a number of safety features you usually find on a dog life vest. It has a top-grab handle to let you quickly remove your pooch from the water by hand or boat hook, and comes in a number of bright colors for added visibility. The design also features reflective strips should you need to locate your dog in low light conditions. Adjustable straps help create a perfect fit for your pooch, which can be particularly hard to find for smaller dogs.

PetCee Dog Life Jacket Key Features:

  • Adjustable straps
  • Four different measurements for determining size
  • Brightly colored
  • D-ring for leash
  • Top-grab handle

Best Large Dog Life Jacket: Paws Aboard Neoprene Doggy Red Life Jacket

Large Dog

With a mesh bottom for extra comfort and security, this is an excellent choice for your extra-large canines

$40.78 USD

Featuring a breathable mesh bottom, the Paws Aboard Neoprene Doggy Red Life Jacket is a fantastic choice for larger animals. The mesh is absolutely fabulous for larger dogs who might find regular dog life jackets chaffing or uncomfortable. After all, if you are very large, it can be extremely uncomfortable to wear a huge life jacket held on by a single strap! Luckily, the mesh on this life jacket provides a more comfortable option for these extra-large dogs. Customers loved that the extra flexible straps combined with the Velcro made the vest extremely easy to take on and off as well as provided additional security and comfort. The life vest comes in a number of sizes, but large and extra-large would probably be to most fitting for your large-sized canines. Large fits dogs 50 to 90 pounds and extra-large fits 90+ plus. The company does say that their extra-large size should fit even the largest of canines.

This life jacket comes in a single, bright red color. It is colored similarly to a lifeguard’s uniform, with accompanying décor to match. Not only is this a stylish option, but the bright color provides visibility and allows you to spot your dog easily during emergencies.

Paws Aboard Neoprene Doggy Red Life Jacket Key Features:

  • Mesh bottom for extra security and comfort
  • Brightly colored
  • Comes in 5 sizes
  • Flexible
  • Rescue handle

Who Should Buy a Dog Life Vest

Anyone with a canine who is around water should purchase and use a dog life vest. It is true that many dogs can swim, and often times they can swim better than their human counterparts! However, just like humans, dogs need to learn to swim. It is a skill that requires practice. Puppies or dogs who have never been exposed to the water should wear a dog vest even when around or in a pool. The life vest will both help keep them afloat and provide them with an opportunity to practice their swimming without tiring themselves out. Plus, the sooner you get your pet used to wearing a life vest the better! Senior dogs and poor swimmers should wear a life vest whenever they could possibly get in the water as well. Dog deaths from drowning in pools are more common than you might think!

Even dogs who are extremely strong swimmers can’t paddle forever and should wear a life jacket when on a boat or near a large body of water. Accidents can and do happen. Boats tip over, rocks are hit, and storms blow in from nowhere. Just like humans, all canines on a boat should have a life jacket just in case an unfortunate accident occurs.

Top pick
Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket

Meet the best dog life jacket on the market.

$16.80 USD

Important Features to Consider

A dog life vest should include a number of features to provide your pet with comfort and security. Here is what you should consider when selecting life jacket for your dog:

  • Effectiveness. Does the life jacket work? A life jacket that doesn’t keep your canine afloat isn’t much of a life jacket at all. It should be made with enough buoyant material to easily keep your canine afloat without restricting too much movement or putting your canine into an unnatural swimming position. In other words, it should assist your dog in staying above water not end up hindering the effort. Buoyant material should be placed along your dog’s torso as well as their head preferably.
  • Visibility. A rescue effort can be severely hindered if you can’t find your dog to begin with. Choose a life vest that is brightly colored, preferably orange, pink, or another color not commonly found in the water. You want to be able to gaze out onto a large body of water and pick your canine out. Reflective markings are also a huge plus, especially if you commonly make overnight boating trips.
  • Handles. Dogs can’t climb ladders and will need you most of the time to help them get in and out of the water if you’re on a boat. Handles on their life vest can make this substantially easier. After all, can you imagine trying to lug a dog out of the water and onto a boat without one?
  • Fit. A life vest is going to have a hard time keeping your dog afloat if it is the incorrect size. If the vest is too small, there won’t be enough buoyancy to keep your dog afloat. But, if it is too large, your dog will slip right out. Choose a life vest that comes in a variety of sizes so that you can be assured it will fit your pup. Avoid vests that are “one size fits all” or only available in a few broad sizes. For example, if an extra-small vest fits dogs 15 pounds and below, and you have a 3 pounds dog, it probably isn’t going to fit your canine very well. Look for vests with specific weight limits.
  • Comfort. You want your dog to be comfortable in his or her life vest, and the outside material has a considerable part to play in this. Avoid substances that scrap and rub your pet’s skin and always keep an eye out for developing bald spots under the straps. Look for life vests with large buckles that don’t concentrate all the pressure in one location. Mesh is a great option, especially if you have a large dog.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a dog life vest and how does it work?

A dog life vest is a floatation device that fits around your dog’s torso and keeps them afloat. It is used primarily for emergency situations, but can also be used for weak or beginning swimmers who need a little help in the water. Usually, a dog life vest has buoyant materials in a number of locations along the torso and back that keep your pet on the surface. Straps hold the vest in place while your dog swims.

Does my dog need a life jacket to be on a boat?

Yes. On the one hand, not all dogs can swim, and you won’t know how healthy of a swimmer your dog is until they well… start swimming! If your dog has never been in water before or is known to be a weak swimmer, a life jacket helps keep them safe if they fall off the boat or get tired while swimming. On the other hand, just because your dog is an excellent swimmer doesn’t mean that they can float indefinitely. In an emergency situation, they will need a life jacket just like their human companions. Plus, just the fact that most dog life jackets have handles makes it worth picking one up.  After all, trying to lug a dog out of the water and onto a boat is near impossible without a life vest with a handle.

How should a dog life vest fit?

Before buying a life vest, always check the company’s sizing guide and measure your canine to determine the right size. Sizes vary widely from brand to brand. What is a small in one brand could very well be an extra-extra-small in another, so always be sure to check and measure! The life vest should fit snuggly on your pup without moving around too much, but should also not be so tight that it restricts movement. We suggest testing the life vest on your dog in a safe environment, such as a pool, before attempting to use it in a potentially life-threatening situation. After all, you don’t want to get into an accident only to find out that your dog’s life vest doesn’t fit!

What size life jacket does my dog need?

This can be determined by looking at a company’s particular sizing chart. Many companies use a dog’s chest circumference to determine size. However, we recommend choosing a life vest that uses more than one measurement to determine the correct size. All dogs are shaped differently. A dog might have a very broad chest but be small everywhere else. Using multiple measurements to determine what size your dog is will always be more accurate than just using one.

Other Dog Vests We Reviewed

Top pick
Outward Hound Granby Dog Life Jacket

Meet the best dog life jacket on the market.

$16.80 USD

We looked at 20 other life vests for dogs. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best dog life vest list, they’re the best of the rest, and each is still a great option for your canine. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included in the listing.

Small Dog Life Jackets

Guardian Gear Aquatic Dog Preserver

Guardian Gear Aquatic Dog Preserver

Available in “teacup” size and four other small sizes, this life jacket is bound to fit even a wide array for smaller dogs.

Key Features:

  • Available in nine sizes
  • Quick-grip handles
  • Tow layer of flotation materials

Cost: $28

Outward Hound Standley Style Life Jacket for Dogs

Outward Hound Standley Style Life Jacket for Dogs

Does your dog love the water? Looking for a life vest to suit them? This life vest specifically designed for experienced swimmers might be a good choice.

Key Features:

  • Mesh bellyband
  • Open design for mobility
  • Extra durable construction

Cost: $26

Paws Aboard Double Designer Doggy Life Jacket

Paws Aboard Double Designer Doggy Life Jacket

The dog life jacket has designer style. With four available colors and a wide array of sizes, this jacket has a wide selection so you can choose exactly what you need.

Key Features:

  • Adjustable nylon straps
  • Reflective strips
  • Handle

Cost: $17

PetCee Mermaid Dog Life Jacket

PetCee Mermaid Dog Life Jacket

This is one of the only dog life jackets on the market that can make your dog look like a mermaid! Plus, it also has extra neck padding to keep little canines’ necks out of the water.

Key Features:

  • Extra neck padding
  • Easy to wash
  • Made of oxford cloth

Cost: $15

Scenereal Dog Life Jacket

Scenereal Dog Life Jacket

This dog life jacket is great for small dogs with its lightweight design and Velcro closure system.

Key Features:

  • Lightweight
  • Velcro fastened
  • D-rings and handles

Cost: $23

Large Dog Life Jackets

EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device

EzyDog Doggy Flotation Device

Featuring custom sizing for large dogs, this life jacket features neoprene straps and reflective detailing.

Key Features:

  • Adjustable neoprene straps
  • Reflective detailing
  • Durable construction

Cost: $56

Holdoor Sports Style Dogs’ Life Jacket

Holdoor Sports Style Dogs’ Life Jacket

If you’re looking for a basic life jacket with all the necessary features, this is a good option for a great price. It has Velcro fasteners that are completely adjustable to fit nearly every dog, as well as a number of other key features.

Key Features:

  • Extra padding for strong buoyancy
  • Velcro closures
  • Handle and D-ring

Cost: $27

KING Dog Life Jacket

KING Dog Life Jacket

With an extra-large size, this life jacket fits dogs up to 85 pounds. Plus, it features a beautiful pattern!

Key Features:

  • Extra head float
  • Reflective Striping
  • Handle

Cost: $45

Playapup Dog Life Jacket

Playapup Dog Life Jacket

Large dog life jackets can be extremely expensive. Luckily, this life jacket comes at a very affordable price while still performing well.

Key Features:

  • Durable neoprene outer cover
  • Form-fitting EVA foam
  • Breathable mesh underbelly

Cost: $30

Ruffwear K-9 Float for Dogs

Ruffwear K-9 Float for Dogs

The Ruffwear K-9 Float for Dogs comes in an extra-large size that fits dogs up to 42 inches. Plus, sheltered side buckles mean that you’ll spend less time adjusting and more time swimming.

Key Features:

  • Telescoping neck closure
  • Handle
  • Adjustable straps

Cost: $80

Neoprene Dog Life Jackets

Outward Hound Dawson Swim Life Jacket for Dogs

Outward Hound Dawson Swim Life Jacket for Dogs

Featuring a neoprene construction, this life vest is flexible enough to provide mobility while maintaining its durability and buoyancy.

Key Features:

  • Neoprene construction
  • Durable handle
  • Reflective accents

Cost: $30

Pawaboo Dog Life Jacket

Pawaboo Dog Life Jacket

With heavy duty hooks and fasteners as well as two neoprene belly bands, this life vest was designed with safety in mind.

Key Features:

  • Two neoprene belly bands
  • Reflective stitches and straps
  • Heavy duty handle

Cost: $26

Paws Aboard Black/White Neoprene Pet Life Jacket

Paws Aboard BlackWhite Neoprene Pet Life Jacket

Looking for a vest with all the “must-have” features? Then this life jacket has you covered.

Key Features:

  • Adjustable straps
  • Quick-release buckles
  • Velcro fastening system

Cost: $28

Paws Aboard Neoprene Doggy Life Jacket

Paws Aboard Neoprene Doggy Life Jacket

With adjustable straps and a top-grip handle, this life jacket combines safety and functionality in one.

Key Features:

  • Adjustable nylon straps
  • Reflective strips for visibility
  • Handle for easy exits and restraint

Cost: $32

Travelin K9 Premium Neoprene Dog Life Jacket

Travelin K9 Premium Neoprene Dog Life Jacket

This life vest features high-quality adjustable straps and neoprene belly flaps for maximum comfort and stability.

Key Features:

  • Neoprene belly flaps
  • Adjustable straps
  • D-ring

Cost: $37

Shark Dog Life Jackets

BFLIfe Shark Dog Life Jacket

BFLIfe Shark Dog life Jacket

Without sacrificing safety, this life jacket features an extremely cute shark fin.

Key Features:

  • Handle for easy rescue and restraint
  • D-ring for leash
  • Velcro and bulk straps

Cost: $25

Kimol Shark Dog Life Jacket

Kimol Shark Dog Life Jacket

It’s pink, AND it has a shark fin. Do we need to say more?

Key Features:

  • Double-layer, buoyant foam
  • Extra-durable handles
  • Available in five sizes

Cost: $25

Morysong Ripstop Dog Life Jacket

Morysong Ripstop Dog Life Jacket

Made of high-quality Polyester, nylon, mesh, and foam, this life vest checks all the boxes when it comes to both safety and style.

Key Features:

  • Adjustable belt
  • Quick release buckles
  • Heavy-duty Velcro fastening

Cost: $23

Queenmore Ripstop Dog Life Jacket

Queenmore Ripstop Dog Life Jacket

Is your dog tough on life jackets? This one is extra durable with rip-stop materials, and might be the answer to your prayers.

Key Features:

  • Breathable, mesh underbelly
  • Velcro fastening system
  • Ripstop polyester

Cost: $25

Swimways Sea Squirts Dog Life Vest

Swimways Sea Squirts Dog Life Vest

With a unique, bright blue color, this life vest provides extra visibly and a stylish design.

Key Features:

  • Handle
  • D-ring for leash
  • Comes in two sizes: small and medium

Cost: $27

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Kristin Hitchcock