Summer is filled with adventures that often lead to enjoying water fun. Ahhh- listening to the murmur of water, chilling out by the pool, going to the lake, smelling the ocean air, vacationing at the beach! Great times! But they all lend to us thinking about water safety for our kids and for our dogs. This brings up the question, “Does my dog need a life jacket?” Well, there is no definitive yes or no answer. The answer really is specific to each individual dog. It depends on how your dog reacts to water, their breed & size, their swimming abilities, their endurance & what type of water conditions they will be around.
All dogs know how to swim. Reality or Myth?
Myth- this is a common misconception. The reality is that not all canines know how to swim. In fact, many canines find it challenging to swim. Breed types with low body fat often discover it a challenge to float while those with small legs tire very easily. And some simply do not even wish to try to swim as they just do not like water. Many dogs are unsure in the water and can be intimidated or frightened, which is a dangerous place, especially if the dog begins to panic. In these situations, a dog life preserver is a necessity and can make dogs feel safe and more comfortable around the water.
Life vests are also a good investment for dogs that suffer from joint issues or senior dogs that just don’t have the stamina like they used to. The dog life jacket gives enough of support to allow them to enjoy the fun without over-exerting themselves.
What about dogs that love water? Does my dog need a life jacket if they are a good swimmer?
Some dogs are extreme water bugs. They completely love being in and around water so much that it often is difficult to get them away from the water. They love to play fetch into the water, run along the beach and have it splash up on them, swim and just cool off. Our list of common breeds that love water 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. While this is not an extensive list, these breeds are thought to be good swimmers and hence most likely do not need a dog life jacket for all visits around water.
Nevertheless, it is important to know that even large dogs that love water can drown. There are some situations where a life preserver is necessary even for water loving dogs. One particular case is when they will be near rough water conditions or in unfamiliar water sources, such as rivers or oceans where dogs need to swim up against strong currents and waves. It is beneficial to utilize life jackets when a dog will be swimming for an extended amount of time, is out of shape, or will be in very deep water sources. The dog life jacket will aid them in staying on top of the water if and when they start to tucker out.
Do dogs have to wear lifejackets on boats?
The US Coast Guard, which regulates human life jackets, does not regulate dog life vests. As of date, dog life jackets are not required when boating. However, it is highly recommended to use a life preserver when boating with your dogs.
Just as we wear life jackets when boating, your dog should also. You just never know when your boat or canoe will get flipped over. Any dog, whether a great swimmer or not, can panic from the unexpected jolt into the water and/or get disoriented. Even worse, they could get injured. Plus, you never know when your dog may get the urge for jumping overboard if they see a fish, duck, or something else that looks like fun to check out and then not be able to get back into the boat. A life jacket will keep them safe by help them stay above water until rescued. It also allows you to easily lift them back into the boat using the safety handle on the back of the life vest.
Ultimately, the answer to “Does my dog need a life jacket?” is up to you, but really, why take the risk? Dog life jackets really are a one time investment if you take care of them.
Keep your dog safe and enjoy the summer!