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Do all dogs need to wear life jackets when swimming?


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  • Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.

In recent years, dog life jackets have become popular and readily available, but many pet parents may wonder if they are necessary. After all, the term “doggy paddle” doesn’t come naturally — aren’t dogs born swimmers?

Actually, they don’t. At least, not all of them are. And even the most fish-like fangs can become overwhelmed, exhausted, or injured in the water, making it harder for them to float.

It is the job of dog parents to keep our pets safe no matter where they play. So to learn more about life jackets for dogswhat dogs can benefit from and when they need it, we turn to the experts.

What the experts say about dog life jackets

Kristin Elmquist is a certified dog trainer with 30 years of experience training dogs on land and in the water. She owns For the love of dogs, where pets participate in obedience training and sports like pier diving. Elmquist recommends that all dogs wear a helmet the first time they go swimming.

“There is no disadvantage in putting them on a life jacket for the first time,” she said.

Despite conventional wisdom, Not all dogs can swimAnd pet parents should never assume their puppies will be comfortable in the water.

“If they sink, you have to try to get them out,” says Elmquist. “A panicking dog can also be dangerous for you.”

Golden Retriever Puppy Exercise in the pool

danaibe12 via iStock

Elmquist also explains that even dogs that can swim may not always be able to swim Good. Old, good-looking, and inexperienced dogs may lack the muscle strength or know-how to use their hind legs effectively in the water. Life jackets can help keep dogs balanced as they build strength and swimming skills.

For healthy adult dogs, Elmquist suggests pet parents observe their pets in the water to decide if they need life jackets for extended periods of time. As long as the dog can safely maneuver on its own, a life jacket may not be necessary. But it can still be a good idea, even for strong swimmers.

That’s because life jackets keep dogs afloat in the event of an accident, in rough seas, or if they wander too far from shore and become disoriented or tired. Additionally, most dog life jackets have handles, allowing pet parents to hold, lift, or redirect the dog as needed.

Dog standing on paddle board in the sea

simonkr via iStock

It’s also important to note that a dog’s condition can change over time. As my dogs regularly go to the lake, they swim unhindered. Now that we live in the desert, our chance to splash around is less frequent. Life jackets give us more confidence in those rare opportunities.

How a life preserver works for your students and how to choose

Just like a human life jacket, the thick, buoyant foam inside the life jacket helps the dog float on the water. However, unlike human life jackets, dog life jackets are specifically designed to fit a dog’s unique body shape and many types include special features such as handles, D-rings and more. to attach a leash or add foam in the front to keep the dog’s head elevated.

There are many options on the market, and while any of them will get the job done, slight differences can vary from “if I have to” safety equipment to equipment. Swimming support enhances the experience. Rover pups have order a lot of life jackets to test over the years in terms of buoyancy, comfort, fit, adjustability and durability.

The Ruffwear Float Coat is one of our favorites for inexperienced swimmers and pups could use a little extra buoyancy. We like its durable fabric and thick foam, plus the padded handle makes it easier to help or walk an uncertain dog.

Fluffy coat for dogs

For experienced swimmers who want more maneuverability, there are Kurgo Surf n ‘Turf Dog life jacket. In our review, we find this a good choice for dogs that need a more customized fit. The embossed mold is thinner for the dog’s unique shape, while the two perpendicular handles ensure a quick grip from any angle. The D-ring allows for a lanyard connection, and older models even double as raincoats with removable foam.

The Granby Outward Hound dog life jacket is a great affordable option for those testing the waters of a dog life jacket. It is made of ripstop nylon for impact resistance and has two handles for easy lifting. Plus, the extra padding at the neck helps keep your puppy’s snout out of the water (a special treat for pups with flat faces and long bodies, who sometimes have difficulty holding their nose).

For a more in-depth look at dog life jackets, check out “9 best dog life jackets for safe swimming” or read a In-depth comparison of Ruffwear and Kurgo.

Ultimately, the best life jacket for your dog will keep them safe without sacrificing comfort or mobility — that is, finding one that fits. Life jackets are one of the products worth measuring. Measure the length of your puppy weight, bust, back and neck length, and then compare these numbers with the manufacturer’s chart. If you are unsure or between sizes, increase the size.

It is important to consider your dog’s skill level, the type of activities you will be doing, and where you will be doing them. A struggling swimmer may need a lot of help with a float, and a puppy in cold water may benefit from a jacket with built-in warmth.

We recommend putting on a life jacket for your dog before going to the beach or pool. That’s the best way to ensure the right size and style. Also, doing a few dry runs in a vest, especially if there’s junk food on it, can help put your dog at ease before you get into the water.

Brown dachshund dog wearing a life jacket on the sand by the beach

Merrillie via iStock

Final Verdict: Do You Need a Dog Lifejacket?

If you are still deciding if you need a life jacket for your dog, a general rule of thumb is to consider the worst-case scenario in all situations. If you can easily handle the most extreme cases yourself, you can skip the safety gear. However, if there’s any chance that your quick reflexes might not be enough to save your dog in an emergency, you’d better be cautious.

Overall, we can’t find a reason not to use a dog life jacket whenever you and your dog are on a boat, in the pool, or even walking along the beach. Pet life preservers help keep our kids safe and, if chosen well, they don’t take away from their enjoyment. In fact, the safety of knowing our dogs are safe can make a day on the water even better.

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