How to Keep Your Dog Safe on the Water

Even if you believe your dog is an excellent swimmer, a PFD will help them stay afloat when weather or water conditions are working against them

Corgi wearing a lifejacket
Most dogs can instinctively swim, but giving them a PFD will make sure they stay safe should their legs fail.Outward Hound

The notion of outfitting the inventor of the doggie paddle with a personal floatation device may seem a little absurd, but there are plenty of reasons to consider a PFD for your pooch. First of all, not every dog is born a water-trial champion. While all dogs can swim a little bit purely out of instinct, not all can stay afloat indefinitely. If you are canoeing, boating, or ice fishing with your buddy, or just want to take precaution against fatigue in the water, a PFD made specifically for canines is the way to go. Here are a few things to consider.

Fit and Comfort

Outward Bound orange doggie lifevest
Be sure to pick a vest size that’s right for your dog.Amazon

All dog PDFs are some form of vest that wraps or buckles around the abdomen and either buckles or Velcros across the chest. Be sure to size the vest carefully. Too small of a vest can restrict the dog's natural swimming movement, and if the vest is too large your dog could slip out.

Grab Handles

Outward Bound red doggie lifevest with handles
A carry handle can make it a lot easier to handle your dog in different situations.Amazon

Not only do grab handles serve as a secure grip in an emergency, they make it much easier to get small- to medium-sized dogs in and out of a boat. This can be especially important at dockside, where a dog may be anxious about taking the leap aboard. Having more than one handle will help you balance the load fore and aft while craning Fido wherever you need him to go, even when he doesn't always want to go there.

Visibility

Ruffwear red doggie lifevest
Pick a PFD with bright colors or even reflectors to help you locate your pooch.Amazon

Dog vests come in every color under the sun. But if you want to get the most out of one, look for a vest with reflective patches or trim. Bright colors are great if your canine companion unexpectedly goes in the drink, and reflective trim offers another level of assurance that you will be able to locate your pet even in low light.