How to keep your pet safe on and around the water? A dog lifejacket or buoyancy aid is an essential bit of kit for our favorite furry sidekicks. We’re all animal overs here and we’ve tried and tested a fair few lifejackets on our pets.
Surely a dog can swim right? Well, yes, but have you ever tried hauling a wet slippery mess of fur and legs out of the water without a handle? It’s like wrestling an eel!
Best get them suited up then and give everyone a chance at getting those furry family members back onboard, whether they went for a swim intentionally or by accident.
What we are looking for in the best dog lifejacket:
Bright colors for best visibility, chest straps and floatation, adjustability, a strong tethering point and a sturdy lifting handle.
There are so many choices of dog life jacket out there. Most are sized on the basis of weight, and this is a useful guide to make sure you have the correct size dog lifejacket. But, just like lifejackets for humans, the best way is to try one on your dog before you buy. Make sure that when the lifejacket is on, it can’t rotate, or slide off, and that it’s a snug fit to avoid the dog being able to get a paw stuck inside. If you are looking for a buoyancy aid for your cat, there’s fewer choices but where a pet floatation device goes small enough then it may well fit your cat even if it isn’t advertised as specifically for a cat.
And most importantly of all, try out the lifting handles to make sure you can successfully pluck the dog or cat from the water if the worst should happen.
Best dog and cat lifejackets available right now
Crewsaver’s Petfloat is a quality bit of safety kit for your pet. It has a good range of sizes, from XL all the way down to XS, which as you’ll see from our Tech Editor’s test models, Banjo in the red (in use for 10 years) and Magic in the yellow version (2 years in use), the pet float is a good life jacket for a chihuahua (3kg) or cat. (other small dogs are available)
On the back of the lifejacket there’s a small zipped pocket, suitable to carry small snacks, poo bags or other small items. The two handles are joined with a velcro hand grip which holds them together and when lifting your pet with both handles, provides a good balance for the cat or dog to be lifted safely.
The chest pad has light padding/buoyancy with thin foam and provides really good support for the full length of the lifejacket.
The Crewsaver Petfloat is also really easy to adjust and put on or take off. Though as the dogs walk along the pontoon, the petfloat has a tendency to sit at a jaunty angle, it doesn’t affect how it works though.
Initially the yellow and black lifejacket was too stiff to form around the small dogs body, so when it was stowed away, to help it take a better shape it has been forced into a curve so that now it fits much better. The petfloat when new needs a bit of manipulation to get it to stop looking like a foam plank.
Easy to adjust
pocket on the back
Lifting handles and reflective strips
Buoyant chest pad
The back foam can feel quite stiff on smaller dogs and not form fully to their body shape
Small dogs ride very low to the water and would benefit from a chin float
Best premium dog buoyancy aid
Red is best known for its range of premium inflatable paddleboards but it also makes a number of watersports accessories (including this Red Original Pet buoyancy aid), which from past experience tend to exhibit the same attention to detail and quality build as its paddleboards.
Hugo, Editor of Motor Boat & Yachting magazine explains: Having checked Maya’s measurements against Red’s size chart (she’s a relatively tall but slim working cocker spaniel), I ordered the small from a range that runs from XS to XL.
It fits her perfectly – tight enough to support her in the right places but with generous enough cut outs for her neck and forelegs to ensure she can still swim and run unimpeded.
Usually a reluctant lifejacket wearer, Maya seemed perfectly content in Red’s design
The Red Original buoyancy for dogs is a really well thought out, well made piece of kit. The Cordura material is soft but durable, the two main grab handles are sturdy but comfortable for the lifter and the dog, there’s a metal loop for attaching a lead, and the five adjustable straps and clips are positioned in such a way that you can’ don’t pinch the dog while putting it on.
It’s also more stylish than other dog lifejackets she’s tried. I know that shouldn’t matter but as my wife will confirm, I take more notice of Maya’s appearance than my own!
- Roomy neck and leg cutouts mean your pooch can run and swim comfortably
- Wide range of sizes
- Sturdy and comfortable grab handles
- pinch-proof straps
- Far from the cheapest option on the market
- The XS might not go small enough for the smallest pets
Baltic Maya cat lifejacket
This cat lifejacket from Baltic is designed to be comfortable for your cat to wear which might help avoid those moments where they squirm right out of them just as soon as you’ve got the last buckle done up.
Owner of two cats, Anthony comments on the Baltic Maya, seen on both of his cats above: I think given a cats propensity for turning into liquid when you put a jacket on them, the fit is the main thing I like. It doesn’t overly restrict their natural agility so I’m confident they can still get out of trouble if they need to. That and the easy grab handle for maneuvering them about is pretty key.
The panel that sits supporting the chest can slide around into uncomfortable positions for the cat and the sizing, probably best going straight for the larger size as kitten will grow out of the smaller ones (but then I do have Maine Coons so… they’re pretty big)
Manufactured from durable yelllow and black nylon material, the Baltic Maya cat lifejacket features a lifting handle with reflective tape. It has comfortable webbing fixing straps and D-ring for attaching a lead.
It’s available in three sizes: 0-3kg, 3-7kg, 7-10kg.
- Good grab handle
- High visibility with fluorescent yellow and reflective tape
- Easy to fit/good fit
- It can be a bit of a fiddle alongside a collar
- The chest panel can slide around
With each product is a ‘Buy it now’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.
Baltic Pet Float dog lifejacket
Baltics have an enviable reputation for the quality of their human lifejackets and their Pet Buoyancy Aid is one you’ll see around a lot as it’s stocked by most chandleries. This dog lifejacket is designed to be comfortable for the dog to wear while on a walk as well as on the water, meaning you’ll spend less time wresting it on and off the animal.
Manufactured from durable orange and black nylon material, this dog lifejacket features a lifting handle with glow in the dark retroreflective tape. It has comfortable webbing fixing straps and D-ring for attaching a lead. Sizing is available for dogs from 3 to 40+ kg (Small to XXL).
- Comfortable, can be worn on walks as well as on water
- glow in the dark
- Some customers note concerns about strap lengths
Price from: £15 for XS up to £45 for XL
from Amazon UK
K9 Pursuits Float Coat dog lifejacket
Best dog life jacket for value
These well-reviewed dog lifejackets have adjustable straps and a neoprene chest band for comfort. There are two useful grab handles on top and it’s bright in color for easy spotting.
It’s good quality and very well priced. It’s available in sizes from XS through to XL (2 to 45 kg) and a sizing guide is readily available.
- great value
- bright colors
- good quality
- Some customers note concerns about inaccurate sizing
WestCoast K9 Aquafloat dog lifejacket
These premium dog lifejackets wrap completely around the dog’s torso to provide a snug fit. They come in a range of bright colors and have reflective strips and large padded lifting handles on the back to make sure you can locate and retrieve a dog from the water if necessary.
- snug fit
- bright colors
- Lifting handles and reflective strips
COVVY dog lifejacket
Best dog life jacket for comedy style
Available in three sizes (S, M, L) for dogs up to 77lbs, the COVVY dog life jacket is made from polyester and with polyethylene foam for buoyancy. And it’s got a shark fin for maximum style points.
There’s a large grab handle on top and quick release buckles for a speedy fitting.
Large grab handle
Shark fin is style over substance
Outward Hound Kyjen 22020
Best dog life jacket for buoyancy features
Available in sizes from XS to XL (dogs up to 100lbs), the Outward Hound has Velcro to secure it at each end of the dog, and quick-release clips under the torso.
It has two padded handles for easy retrieval and a front float support to keep the dog’s head above water – good for inexperienced swimmers. There are also reflective accents, although these aren’t as visible as on some of the other jackets.
- Two padded handles
- Covers many sizes
- Front float support for dogs head
- Reflective accents aren’t very visible
Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Head to Amazon’s dedicated boating page for more marine products.