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Dog Water Safety 101: Water sports a great way for dogs to get exercise and keep cool during the summer months.  However, not all dogs are strong swimmers and even those that were bred for water sports can benefit from the added safety of a life vest.  Breeds with low body fat, such as whippets and greyhounds as well as large heavy boned breeds such as the Rottweiler can have difficulty staying afloat. Heavily coated dogs may be dragged down by their wet coats and exhaust quickly.  Even the best swimmers can be incapacitated in a boating or skiing accident; rough water, undertows and strong currents in streams and rivers can unexpectedly overtake a healthy and fit dog. 

Scroll down to learn more about the benefits of a personal flotation device for your canine companion as well as the Do’s and Don’ts of dog life jackets.  

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Benefits of Life Jackets

  • Improved visibility – choose a brightly colored life vest that will easily be seen at a distance
  • Sturdy handles on the back aid in rescue
  • Allows the dog an opportunity to rest, when he has swum out beyond his ability to return to shore
  • Keeps dog afloat if he accidentally inhales water or is struck by a boat, Jet Ski or skier
  • Swimming can provide great exercise for arthritic dogs.  Life jackets can help support the dog while joints are relieved from the stress of his weight
  • Can be a high fashion accessory

Dogs That Can Benefit From Life Jackets

  • Elderly or arthritic dogs
  • Dogs with low body fat that end to have difficulty floating and maintain their body temperature
  • Heavily coated dogs, a wet coat on a large double coated dog can ad 15-20 pounds in excess weight
  • Dogs in high traffic areas (crowded lakes and rivers with water vehicles)

Life Jacket Safety Tips:

  • Remove the life vest if the dog will be out of the water for a while to prevent overheating
  • Do not leave the dog in a jacket unattended, the jacket can become entangled in shrubs and fencing
  • The jacket does not need to extend to the base of the tail to be effective
  • Be sure the jacket fits snuggly, but not tightly so as to impede labored breathing
  • For dock diving, select a life jacket that does not have a floatation pillow under the throat
  • For poor swimmers in rough water select a life vest with a floatation pillow under the throat