Kayak and Paddleboard with Your Dog: Best Dog Life Jackets

4-minute read

We know many of you love to kayak, paddleboard, packraft and canoe with your dog(s). Whether your 4-footed pal is a regular in your boat or you’re just starting the training process, there’s one safety item you need: a dog life jacket.

dog wearing a life jacket laying on a paddleboard in the water

Keep your dog safe on the water with a well-fitting life jacket (photo courtesy of Andy Wong)

Why Your Dog Should Wear a Life Jacket

Many dogs are strong swimmers, just like many paddlers are strong swimmers. Wearing a life jacket—whether human or canine—is for the unexpected times. Those times when you end up in the water suddenly and unintentionally.

Having that life jacket on gives people a huge advantage in those emergency situations, just like a life jacket on your dog provides added safety. Your furry friend doesn’t have to rely solely on its own strength and stamina to survive in the water, but has an aid to keep it afloat longer and with less effort.

Another reason a life jacket is a great idea for dogs when you bring them paddling with you is that dog life jackets have grab handles on the top. This handle makes it so much easier to lift your dog into the boat or onto the paddleboard from the water—whether it went in intentionally or not.

Finally, keeping a life jacket on your dog helps for visibility, both in emergency situations and when other, faster boats are on the same water as you. When your dog is swimming, it’s very hard for other boaters to see it. But with a brightly-colored life jacket, visibility is more likely.

PRO TIP: Orange, red and yellow are the most visible colors on the water.

big dog and little dog packrafting with life jackets, with their people

Dog life jackets come in all sizes (photo courtesy of @dziltaahadventures)

Dog Life Jacket Brands to Choose From

There are many different models of life jacket to choose from for your dog(s). All of these listed here are reliable brands you can trust to keep your pet safe, no matter its size:

Float Coat Dog Life Jacket by Ruffwear—Adjustable at the neck and belly, the Float Coat comes in six different sizes from XXSmall to XLarge. It also comes in three high-visibility color combos. For around $90 this life jacket is comfortable, tough, has that top grab handle plus a ring for a leash. It includes reflective material for low light. The Float Coat is very popular with our readers, but it’s the most expensive dog life jacket on our list.

Underdog Life Jacket by MTI Life Jackets—The Underdog has a very different shape than the previous model. 90% of the buoyancy aid is under the neck and chest for natural movement in the water. There’s a handle at the next and the back and four points of adjustment. It comes in five sizes from XSmall to SLarge and costs about $60.

Pet Vest by Onyx Outdoor—Comes in two styles: neoprene ($45) and nylon $30). Both are available in five sizes from XSmall to XLarge and in many different colors and patterns. The more basic nylon model includes three adjustable belts and a back handle. The neoprene model also has a zipper closure and reflective material.

CFD Dog Life Jacket from NRS—(Canine Flotation Device) Available in two colors and five sizes from XSmall to XLarge. Achieve a customized fit with three adjustable straps. Includes the back carry handle, leash ring and reflective material for about $60.

dog sitting on a paddleboard at sunset on calm water

A calm evening on the water (photo courtesy of @lucytheadk9)

Birddog Life Jacket by Astral—Available in two color combos and five sizes from XSmall to XLarge, this model sells for about $75. It also includes a hefty back carry handle, three straps for custom fit, leash loop and reflective material.

Rover Floater by Level Six—Two color options and six size options from XSmall to XXLarge. This life jacket is three-way adjustable, has the back carry handle and leash loop, and reflective strips for extra visibility. It sells for just $35, the most affordable model on our list.

Outward Hound sells three models of life jackets for dogs: The Granby Splash, Dawson Swim and Standley Performance models. They range from $40-$65 depending on the model and size. Each features adjustable fit, carry handle (a dual handle for large breeds) and leash ring. They come in various color options.

Skippy Life Jacket by Salus Marine—Another model with part of the flotation material under the dog’s chest for added buoyancy. Three-way customized fit, dual carry handle, leash ring and reflective material. Available in two hi-viz colors. Salus Marine is a Canadian company. It sells for about $90 CAD (about $71 USD).

There are many brands of life jacket to choose from for your furry paddling companion. You’re sure to find one that fits well, is comfortable for your dog and will give you peace-of-mind on all your paddle trips together.

Do you have paddle questions our friendly Customer Service Team can help you with today? Contact them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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