Selecting a Dog Life Jacket

Learn how to select the right life jacket for your dog.

Just as with life jackets for us humans, sizing, fit and convenience are important considerations for dog life jackets. And just as with us humans, some pets are better, natural swimmers. We tested a few on Maggie, a 2-year-old, 67-pound black Lab.

West Marine Advanced Pet Life Jacket

Best Dog Life Jackets
Panels provide comfort and flexibility for a swimming dog.West Marine

The Float: Three segmented flotation panels are flexible and comfortable. There are two mesh pockets for small stuff (like the key to the doghouse) and two reflective strips for night safety. It has a sturdy lift handle (two on large sizes). It features a wide, padded underbelly panel.

The Sink: Adjustable neck pad is not as well-designed as the rest of the vest. Fit at rear could be shaped better for comfort.

Price: $50; Buy It

MTI Adventurewear UnderDog

Best Dog Life Jackets
The buoyancy under the chest allows for natural swimming.MTI Adventurewear

The Float: A unique concept — place the flotation foam under the pet's chest. This design concept facilitates the natural swimming position for most dogs. There are two convenient bright-yellow lifting handles to hoist your pet. Reflective panels are for night safety.

The Sink: Since the bulk of the vest is under the dog, it could become uncomfortable after bouncing around the bay for a couple of hours or when hanging out in the cockpit most of the day.

Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat

Best Dog Life Jackets
Contoured design allows for more comfortable rear-leg motion.Ruffwear

The Float: A well-cut design with a contoured shape at the back allows for comfortable walking/running/swimming rear-leg motion. It features a sturdy, single lifting handle. It has good neck support, and it's easily adjusted.

The Sink: With the stiffest construction, it could be uncomfortable after long hours sitting in a cockpit. The name/number ID label is on the inside of the vest, and strangers might be reluctant to look for it.

Price: $80; Buy It