If your dog adventures start or end with water, a dog life preserver may be a necessary piece of equipment. However, many pet owners find themselves asking the question, “Does my dog need a life jacket?” The answer is not black and white and really is determined by many factors, including your dog’s breed, size, swimming abilities, and water conditions. The following information is to help guide your decision in determining if your dog needs a life jacket.
No, it is not. It is a common misconception that all dogs know how to swim. While most canines can make it a short distance in the water, it is a fact that many dogs just do not like water and they find it difficult to swim. Some breeds are notorious about not liking water. Breed types with low body fat usually find it challenging to float. Small dogs or those with short legs often tire quickly when swimming. For these pets, a dog life jacket can be a life saver and may actually aid in them enjoying the water more. Dog life preservers also are a good fit for senior dogs, those with joint health issues, such as hip dysplasia, and those recovering from surgery. Swimming is known to be an excellent low-impact exercise for both humans and pets. Life vests help provide the extra support they require and prevent injuries from reoccurring.
Some breeds absolutely love water, are built for swimming, and are hard to get out of the water. These breeds often have webbed feet (tissue that keeps the toes more closely attached) and are often bred for water sports. Examples include Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, German Shepherds, German Shorthaired Pointers, Irish Water Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Portuguese Water Dogs, Toy Poodles, Vizslas, Weimaraners, and Wirehaired Pointing Griffons. These dogs are known to be good swimmers and often do not need a life preserver. However, there are times when it is pertinent for these breeds to use a dog life jacket. Water dogs may need a life jacket when swimming in rough currents, strong waves, in deep water, or in large lakes where they may get tuckered out. Also, it is advisable for all dogs to wear life jackets when boating. Dog life jackets come with safety grab handles that help if there is ever a "dog overboard" situation.
Does my dog need a life jacket? All dogs, whether water loving or not, can easily go into a panic from an unexpected fall or leap into the water. Dog life jackets keep your dog safe even when they are not prepared to be in the water. This is particularly true when boating with your dog. Just as humans should wear life preservers for boating safety, so should dogs. For extra safety, dog life jackets have a safety grab handle that makes it simpler to pull your dog out of the water onto the boat or dry land.
While the possibility of your dog drowning may be minimal, the possibility does exist and it depends on you to determine if a dog life jacket is a safety measure you want to take. You pet may not need a life jacket if the majority of your experiences are in shallow water, if your pool has a gate around so your dog can not accidentally fall in, or if you swim right beside your dog where you still can stand. However, if you take your dog boating, swimming in deep water or rough currents, swimming for longer periods of time, or have a breed that is not a natural swimmer, it most likely will be to your advantage to purchase a dog life jacket. Knowing how you will spend your time around water will help you answer the question, "Does my dog need a life jacket?"
Have fun this summer with your dog, while being safe. A dog life preserver can assist your pet dog in enjoying water outdoor adventures, from hanging by the swimming pool to vacationing at the beach or lake to playing in your favorite local pond. Enjoy!