Dog Life Jackets: Everything You Need to Know

Safety comes first, and that also applies to our four-legged friends. When you take your dog on adventures – whether it’s a walk along the beach or a boat trip on the sea – it’s your responsibility to keep them safe.

Maybe you think that all dogs are the born swimmers. But the truth is that even the most water-loving dog can also get into trouble in the water – especially if it falls overboard from a boat, gets caught in strong currents, or simply gets too tired to continue swimming. And this is exactly where a life jacket comes into the picture.

On this page, you will find everything you need to know about life jackets for dogs. We cover everything from situations where a life jacket should be used and how to use it correctly to different functions and how to choose the right model. All so that you can have the knowledge you need to keep your dog safe the next time you venture out on the water.


Why your dog should wear a life jacket

Safety is paramount when you and your dog go out on the water, and a life jacket for your dog can make a big difference. And that’s true if your dog is an experienced swimmer or just starting to explore the water.

First of all, it’s important to understand that not all dogs swim equally well. Some dog breeds are naturally good at swimming, while others may find it difficult to stay afloat. In particular, dogs with short legs or a heavy body can benefit from wearing a life jacket when in the water. A dog life jacket is designed to keep your dog afloat in the water.

The jacket is also helpful if your dog is not completely comfortable with water. The extra buoyancy makes swimming easier, and the jacket can give your dog the confidence they need to explore the water. This can be a big help if your dog is a little nervous about water or still a puppy.

Dog life jackets are also usually highly visible. They are often designed in bright colours and equipped with reflectors to ensure that your dog is easy to see in the water. It can be a great help if your dog disappears from sight – and it also makes it easier for others to see your dog if it gets into trouble.

At Biltema we have a large selection of life jackets for both you and your dog, which can make your time on the water a little safer.

When should your dog wear a life jacket?

A life jacket for your dog can significantly increase their safety. But in what situations does your dog really need to wear a life jacket?

If you’re planning to take your dog on a boat trip, it’s a good idea to make sure you have the necessary safety equipment on board boat. Even if your dog is a good swimmer, unforeseen situations, such as strong currents or high waves, can occur, and in such cases, it can be difficult for the dog to get back on the boat. Here, a life jacket can be a lifesaver.

A life jacket for your dog is also a good idea if you are going for a walk on the beach and your dog loves to play in the water. Jackets with buoyancy panels can help keep your dog afloat if it gets tired or swims too far out.

A life jacket can be beneficial for experienced swimmers, but it can be especially useful for puppies, older dogs, or dogs that are not naturally good swimmers. With a life jacket, dogs can have a positive and safe experience in the water without you having to worry about their safety.

Do life jackets also work for cats?

Life jackets for animals are normally designed for dogs, but it is possible for a cat to use the jacket. You probably also associate cats with an aversion to water. However, if you have a cat that frequently spend time around water, it may be necessary in some situations to ensure the safety of your four-legged friend.

A life jacket can be useful if you take your cat on a boat trip, for example, or if they often spend time near water in the garden. No matter how careful you are, accidents can happen, and your cat can end up in the water. With a life jacket, your cat is better protected and has a greater chance of staying afloat until you can get them to safety.

How to choose a life jacket with the right functions for your dog

Choosing the right life jacket for your dog can be a challenge, because there are many factors involved. A dog life jacket can do more than just float. It usually has several functions that make it both safe and convenient to use; but what should you look for?

We have compiled a checklist of things that you can look for to be sure you come home with the right model for your dog.

  • Buoyancy panels: Buoyancy panels are the most important part of a life jacket. They ensure that your dog can stay afloat in the water – even if it gets tired. The buoyancy panels are often placed around the dog’s body to provide an even buoyancy distribution. Therefore, check how much buoyancy the jacket has and whether it is evenly distributed to ensure that your dog can swim comfortably.
  • Size: You should carefully consider the size of the jacket. Your dog’s weight is an important factor when choosing a life jacket. A jacket that is too big can easily slip off, while one that is too small can be uncomfortable and limit your dog’s movement. Fortunately, life jackets come in sizes suitable for both big and small dogs.
  • Reflectors: Reflectors are an important feature of a dog life jacket. They make it easier for you and others to see your dog in the water – especially if it’s dark or foggy. Reflectors can also make it easier for rescuers to find your dog should it get into trouble.
  • Adjustability: A good life jacket should be adjustable to fit your dog perfectly. This ensures that the jacket fits comfortably and does not bother your dog while swimming. It also ensures that the jacket provides the right amount of buoyancy and keeps your dog afloat in the water.
  • Material: The material is also an important factor. The life jacket must be made of durable, water-repellent material of the best quality so that it can cope with the different situations in which it is used.
  • Visibility: Also choose a brightly coloured life jacket with reflectors to make your dog visible in the water. The visibility of the colours can be a great help if your dog disappears from sight.
  • Handle: Life jackets are often equipped with a handle at the top. This makes it easy for you to help your dog out of the water if needed. It can be a great help if your dog suddenly gets tired or if the current is too strong, so it’s wise to look for this extra function.
  • Leash/line attachment point: Some dog life jackets also come with an attachment point for a leash or line. This allows you to keep your dog close to you when in the water. This can be a great advantage if your dog is a little nervous about water or if you just want to make sure it doesn’t swim too far away.
  • Design: Last but not least, life jackets also come in different designs. Some a have a classic design, while others have fun colours or prints. Which do you like best?

Choosing the right life jacket for your dog can be a challenging task, because they don’t only need to keep your dog afloat, they also often come with several smart functions, and it’s important to choose the right model for your dog’s needs.

Choose the right size life jacket for your dog

When it comes to ensuring your dog’s safety on the water, it’s important to choose the right size life jacket. A life jacket that is too large will not provide the necessary support, while a jacket that is too small can be uncomfortable and limit your dog’s freedom of movement.

The first step in finding the right size is to weigh your dog. Dog life jackets correspond to different weight classes, which serves as benchmark for the size you should select. Once you know your dog’s weight, you can check the size chart of the life jacket you are considering buying. Keep in mind that different brands may have different size charts, so it’s important to always check.

Weight is a good indicator, but it’s also important to fit the life jacket before taking your dog on the water. The jacket should fit tightly, but it shouldn’t be too tight. Your dog should be able to move freely, and you should be able to get two fingers under the vest.


Proper use of dog life jackets

It is important that your dog has a life jacket, but it’s just as important that your dog wears the jacket correctly. Below we provide our best tips on what you should do and what you shouldn’t do.

What you should do:

  • Weigh your dog: To make sure your dog’s life jacket fits correctly, you need to first weigh your dog. The weight of your dog will help you find the right size. Once you’ve weighed your dog, it’s time to choose an appropriate life jacket.
  • Adjust the jacket: Once you’ve chosen the right size, adjust the jacket to fit your dog. The life jacket should fit tightly, but not too tightly. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to get two fingers under the straps.
  • Check the life jacket: Your dog needs to be comfortable when wearing the life jacket, so it needs to have a good fit. Before you let your dog go into the water, check that the jacket is on correctly. Check that the straps are secured. Make sure the jacket does not restrict your dog’s movement or chafe or irritate the skin.

What you should not do:

  • Don’t leave your dog alone in the water: Even with a life jacket on, your dog should never be left alone in the water. Accidents can happen and unforeseen situations can occur, and it is therefore important that you are there to help.
  • Don’t expect the jacket to do all the work: A life jacket is a safety device, but it does not replace supervision and a good swimming technique. Therefore, see the jacket as a piece of helpful equipment, and be ready to help your dog in the event of an accident.
  • Do not wear a damaged jacket: If the life jacket is damaged, it must not be used, since its safety function may be impaired. Therefore, regularly check the jacket for signs of wear or damage before using it directly from storage.
  • Don’t let your dog wear the jacket for too long: If your dog has been wearing the life jacket for a long time, it can start to feel uncomfortable. Therefore, give your dog breaks from the life jacket when it is safe to take it off.

So, there are several things you need to be aware of when your dog uses a life jacket.


5 tips to get your dog used to wearing a life jacket

Not all dogs find it comfortable to wear a life jacket. Therefore, it may be a good idea to slowly get your dog used to wearing the jacket. It may take time and patience, but it’s an important part of the process. We’ve put together some tips on how you can help your dog feel comfortable with a new life jacket.

  1. Start at home: Before you take your dog into the water, it’s a good idea to let it get used to the jacket at home. Let your dog sniff the jacket and examine it.
  2. Try it on: Once your dog is comfortable with having the life jacket nearby, you can put it on your dog. Start by letting your dog wear the jacket for short periods, gradually extending the time.
  3. Take walks with the life jacket: Once your dog is comfortable wearing them indoors, you can start taking walks. This will help your dog get used to moving around with the jacket on.
  4. Introduce water: Once your dog is comfortable wearing the life jacket on walks, you can start introducing water. Start with shallow areas where your dog can feel safe. Let your dog explore the water at their own pace and give plenty of praise and encouragement.
  5. Make it fun: Remember to make the whole process fun for your dog. Use toys, treats, and lots of praise to make wearing the life jacket a positive experience.


Getting your dog used to wearing a life jacket can take some time, but it’s worth it because it increases their safety. And fortunately, there is help available, because with a good deal of patience and treats, you can help your dog feel safe and secure in the water with the new life jacket.


Maintenance and replacement of dog life jackets

Having a life jacket for your dog is a necessity if you often take your four-legged friend out on the water. But it’s not enough just to have a jacket – it also needs to be maintained and replaced when necessary.

Maintenance of the life jacket is relatively easy. After use, rinse it in clean, cold water to remove salt, sand, and other dirt. Never use soap, since this can actually damage the jacket material and make it less effective.

After rinsing, allow the jacket to air dry completely before placing it in storage. Store it in a dry and cool place where it is not exposed to direct sunlight. The sun’s UV rays can break down the material.

But even with the best maintenance, you’ll need to replace your dog’s life jacket at some point. Signs that it’s time for a new jacket include visible damage like cracks or holes, loose stitching, or if the jacket can no longer keep your dog afloat. In addition, you should also consider replacing the jacket if your dog’s weight changes, because a jacket that is too large can easily slip off, while a one that’s too small can limit freedom of movement.

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