The concept of a dog life jacket might seem foreign to some people. Especially people who don’t own dogs. But if you, as a dog parent, understand that safety is never overrated, it should be quite easy for you to wrap your head around this concept.
Now some people might say, “but my dog does not go anywhere near water”. The thing is we’ve heard that prevention is better than cure and have seen it be a reality often enough that we believe it. So we say get you a dog life jacket.
However, there is a bit more to owning a dog life jacket than what this introduction has let on. And if you just stick with us, we’ll let you in on all the deets. So, here goes…
When Does A Dog Need A Dog Life Jacket
If your dog is into any form of water sports; swimming, kayaking, canoeing basically anything that involves water then he needs a life jacket. He might not need to wear it every time he has to go. But it is definitely something you want to keep in hand.
If your dog doesn’t seem to like being in the water, you’ll probably still need to invest in a dog life jacket. Because what happens when you’re in a place surrounded by water? What happens when you want to go swimming with your dog?
The truth is, your dog will most likely have at least one opportunity to be in the water in his lifetime. And you want to be very well prepared for that eventuality.
Wearing a dog life jacket is not really dependent on whether your dog is all alone or with someone. If he is going to be anywhere near water, he should either be garbed with a life jacket or you should be holding one for him.
We want to believe you understand that when we say “anywhere near water” we do not include bath time.
Now, talking about being safe and getting a dog jacket might make you start asking the question “don’t all dogs swim?” We’ll answer that right away.
Do All Dogs Swim?
Nope. Not all dogs know how to swim. A good number of dogs can swim or at least can be taught to. That is why there are dogs that can be into water sports. They are trained for that sort of thing.
However, we cannot generalize based on the dogs that love the water and know how to swim. Because the truth is that some dogs hate the water and will never learn how to swim. And that is perfectly normal.
Now that we understand that not every dog can swim, we will be discussing the need for the dog life jacket in two sections; dogs that can’t swim and dogs that can swim.
Dog Life Jacket For Dogs That Can’t Swim
The need for a dog life jacket for a dog that can’t swim is quite obvious. If he can’t swim, he will drown.
Now, you’re probably racking your brain wondering why your dog does not swim like other dogs do. Well here are some reasons…
Why Some Dogs Don’t Swim
We all know that dogs are not exactly water animals. However, some dog breeds have certain adaptive features that allow them float on water and even swim.
Some dogs have webbed toes to help them paddle and also have water resistant coats. The water resistant coats keep them from getting soaked thereby increasing their buoyancy.
Another important factor is size. Dogs that are big or medium sized will most likely swim or be taught to swim instead of small dogs.
Dogs that have heavy heads or unusually short legs are usually not able to swim. A heavy head does not exactly help a dog’s buoyancy.
And short legs make it difficult for the dog to paddle. If a dog has both… Oh well!
Health Condition And Age
It is no surprise that dogs that are under the weather will not want to swim. Also, dogs that are overweight will have trouble staying on the water.
If a dog is injured, it can impede his ability to navigate his way through water. So, that might reduce his desire to be in or even near the water. In fact, he shouldn’t even be allowed in the water until your vet says it is OK.
Senior dogs will probably not be very enthusiastic about being in water. Water, obviously, isn’t a natural habitat for dogs.
And then again, when you’ve gotten to a certain age you just realize that you can’t be bothered about some things. For dogs, swimming is one of those things.
Some dogs that have all the adaptive features for swimming, are adults and in perfect condition still do not want to swim. They just are not interested.
So, if your dog has “all it takes” to swim and still doesn’t, it is perfectly normal.
Dog Breeds That Usually Don’t Swim
The features that make it difficult for dogs to swim are usually found in the following breeds as listed by Pets4homes:
A bulldog is probably the worst possible dog swimmer there is. He has the squashed and flat face that makes it necessary for him to keep his face above water.
The problem here is that he cannot keep his face above water and simultaneously maintain the proper body position that will make him float.
Also, a bulldog has a head that is pretty large in relation to his body.
It is all good and fine carrying a large head on a terrain that you are familiar with (land). But in a strange terrain, that could be a difficulty.
But seriously, the large head makes a bulldog heavy. Heavy enough to drown.
Pugs And Boxers
Pugs just have the squashed in flat face that makes it necessary for them to keep said face above water. It is quite a struggle trying to keep your face above water, maintaining the proper body posture, and paddling all at once.
Bull Terriers also have just one of the features of the Bulldog that makes it difficult for them to swim; the disproportionately large head.
For the bull terrier, the head is not just large but quite heavy too.
A Basset hound is another terrible swimmer. He has a large head and dense bones which make staying afloat very difficult. He also has short legs that make it difficult to paddle when in water.
The dachshund has really short legs. So, navigation in water can prove to be a difficult thing.
Basically, all dogs that are top heavy and leg short usually have issues navigating in water or even staying afloat. So, if your dog’s breed is not mentioned here, it doesn’t mean he will be able to swim.
If your dog can’t swim, he can still have fun in water if he wears his dog life jacket. So, if you’re going swimming and you want your dog with you or you’re going boating, let your dog wear a dog life jacket.
Even if you don’t plan on your dog entering water, the mere fact that he will be close to a water body is enough reason for him to wear a dog life jacket. He could find himself in the water somehow and you want to be prepared.
Dog Life Jacket For Dogs That Can Swim
Why should a dog that is perfectly able to swim wear a life jacket? After all he can swim. Why does he need help?
Janet Tobiassen Crosby DVM on the Spruce pets talks about her dog who is a fantastic swimmer and very athletic but almost had an accident. The reason she almost did was obviously not because she (the dog) isn’t a swimmer because she is.
What happened in a nutshell was she was on a boat with her family got over excited and miscalculated her jump. That was all.
If not for the timely intervention of her owner, she could have hurt herself or even drowned because she wasn’t wearing her dog life jacket.
Scary, isn’t it?
For dogs who do the sports, you still need to have a dog life jacket on hand. Especially when they are training. They could get injured or tired while swimming. The life jacket will be a lot of help.
Dogs that can swim are usually fine without a dog life jacket but it never hurts to have one in your possession. You never know when you’ll need one.
Buying The Right Dog Life Jacket
There is a lot to getting the right dog life jacket than just getting a dog life jacket. American Boating gives us a few things to think about:
Whatever dog life jacket you choose should be able to help your dog stay afloat. If you have a dog that has a squashed in flat face like the bulldog, get him a dog life jacket that has flotation in the neck area. So that his face can remain above water.
Consider buying a dog life jacket that is brightly colored so that you can very easily track your dog’s progress in the water. And be able to save him if he needs saving.
Most dog life jackets have handles and that is fantastic. The idea is that you need something to grab if your dog is in water and needs saving. So be sure that the handles are nice and sturdy. You don’t want them coming off when you’re trying to pull your dog out of distress.
There are dog life jackets that allow you attach a leash to them. Consider getting that kind.
The dog life jacket you purchase has to be the perfect fit and size. Your dog should be able to breathe, stretch, sit, lie and generally do his business while wearing it. In a nutshell, it shouldn’t be constricting.
Also, make sure that the jacket isn’t heavy. So, be sure that he tries it on before he goes anywhere near water. Observe him and if he walks funny, that dog life jacket isn’t the one for him.
Quick Water-Side Manners
If your dog is new to the art of swimming, be sure to take it easy with him. Start in the part of the water where it is shallow and the current isn’t so high. Also, the first few times when you teach him to swim try not to let go of his leash; lead him in.
Do not teach a dog to swim without outfitting him with a dog life jacket. It doesn’t matter whether that dog was born in the water. He should wear a dog life jacket if he is new to the swimming thing. Of course if he is a non-swimmer, he should never be close to the water without wearing his dog life jacket.
Whenever your dog is done swimming be careful to rinse him off to remove the residue swimming pool chemical. Then carefully rub him down paying particular attention to his ears. Leaving water in his ears can lead to very terrible ear infections.
Dog life jackets are absolutely very important whether your dog is a pro swimmer or has refused to go anywhere near the water. Remember, your dog’s safety is your responsibility and that is a responsibility you need to take seriously.
So when next you want to go out with your dog and you know (or even think) that there will be a water body nearby, don’t forget to pack him a dog life jacket.
Being prepared for any eventuality just goes to show how seriously you take your responsibility.
One more thing, visit your vet or animal behaviorist if your dog who once loved water seems not to anymore. They should know if it is something you should be bothered about.