Selecting new poolside apparel and accessories—swimsuits! coverups! towels! hats!—is always fun come summer. But don’t forget about snagging some for Fido, too! Dressing your dog in their own summer outfits, such as dog life jackets, is undeniably adorable. But, more importantly, if you’re lucky enough to have access to a pool or frequent dog-friendly beaches, boats or lakes, having your pup don a dog life jacket is one of the most important safety measures you can take around water.
Today, we’re helping you navigate the world of poolside and shoreline must-haves for your pup, including how to choose the best dog life jacket for safely enjoying the surf and sun. For good measure, we’re also throwing in some human attire suggestions that’ll charmingly coordinate with that of your fur baby!
How to Choose the Best Dog Life Jacket
Just as there are precautions to ensure your own safety while around water, there are some important considerations when it comes to your pet. Priority No. 1 should be to get a flotation device designated specifically for your dog. It’s essential that this device is built specifically for pet use (since human life jackets cannot safely be adapted for pets) and it’s key to get one that fits your pup well.
“There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to floatation devices for your dog. It’s vital to find the right size and style dependent on your pet’s shape, weight and stature,” explains Dr. Heidi M. Cooley, DVM and senior manager of client experience and advocacy for Banfield Pet Hospital in Vancouver, Washington.
When shopping for dog life jackets, you’ll notice that many manufacturers have guides on how to measure your pet to find the proper fit. Get out the tape measure and don’t be shy about trying a few different sizes and styles on your pet in order to find the best dog life jacket for their body type. (Luckily, Chewy has a great return policy!) You’ll want to be sure that it’s not too tight by ensuring you can fit a finger under the belly band of the floatation device.
Once you find the correct fit, there are some other details you need to look for, too: “Make sure the floatation device has a sturdy rescue handle,” says Dr. Cooley. “Not only is this important for rescue and quick removal from water if needed, but it is also very helpful in guiding pets on or off a boat and inclined docks, or on rough and choppy water.”
Another good idea is to choose a product that’s bright or constructed with reflective fabrics. This will make your dog more visible when they’re in the water.
Finally, “before letting your pet take a dip in the water, ensure you’re aware of its individual needs. For instance, senior dogs, small-breed dogs, puppies, dogs with short legs and double coated dogs are all considered to be less than ideal swimmers,” says Dr. Cooley. “Also, certain breeds of dogs don’t swim as well as others. Pugs and Basset Hounds are two examples. No matter the breed, make sure to closely monitor your pet at all times when they’re in or near bodies of water.”
The Best Life Dog Jackets (and Some Stylish Summer Swag for You, Too!)
For Your Dog: Frisco Neoprene Dog Life Jacket
This dog life jacket is crafted with neoprene to help make it extra buoyant and keep your pup at a comfy temp (the material adds a layer of insulation in chilly water). It also has three adjustable straps and side release buckles for a secure fit, plus a D-ring if you need to attach a leash. We love that lifeguard red color, too—a classic summer style!
For You: Lifeguard Lux
Want to match your doggo? Pair it with this Adoretex Guard Xtra Life Lycra Fit Back one-piece swimsuit, or these Speedo Guard 21" boardshorts. With the bright color and on-theme lettering, they’re totally lifeguard chic!
For Your Dog: KONG Sport AquaFloat Dog Flotation Vest
A splashy color like hot pink doesn’t just make it easy to keep track of your dog. It's super stylish, too! Additionally, this dog life jacket features a mesh underbelly that drains easily, an extra-strong handle and reflective binding. Plus, it contains multiple layers of foam that are designed for maximum buoyancy and a natural swimming position.
For You: Highlighter Hues
To match your pup, wear this J. Crew Deep V-Neck French One-Piece in Fuchsia Bloom (we love the V-neckline!) or this pair of PacSun Solid Neon 17" swim trunks that boast side pockets.
For Your Dog: US ARMY Dog Life Vest
If you’re the proud owner of a big dog, this life jacket is available in four sizes, the largest of which can accommodate pups with a girth of up to 39 inches. (Be sure to get out that tape measure!) With a super sturdy handle and adjustable neck and girth fasteners, it's also designed to be durable and help you get a perfectly customized fit.
For You: Summer Sun Shades
To coordinate with your pooch, hit the pool in Lulu’s Sunshine Chaser Golden Yellow swim cover-up. We love the flouncy frills! You may also consider these Quicksilver boardshorts that are simple and sporty.
For Your Dog: Outward Hound Standley Sport Dog Life Jacket
This dog life jacket is designed for pups who are more comfortable in and around water, thanks to the tough nylon that’s designed to stand up to tons of aquatic adventures. The lightweight construction also allows for more free-range motion, and it features double handles to give you better control.
Don’t Forget These Other Summertime Must-Haves for Dogs
In addition to the best dog life jackets, there are few other items you might want to stash in your beach bag to keep your dog safe from the sun and heat.
You know SPF is important for yourself, but did you know this skincare step is essential for dogs, too? It’s true! “Just like humans, dogs and cats can get sunburned and can suffer from pain, peeling, skin infections and even skin cancer ,” says Dr. Cooley, who notes that dogs who are paler or have thinner, lighter fur are more susceptible to sun damage.
It’s important to use a dog sunscreen since human versions can contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs. Epi-Pet Sun Protector Skin Treatment Spray is designed to protect pets against harmful UV rays with a non-greasy, spray-on formula.
It’s hot out there, so make sure to keep your dog hydrated! Some pups are tempted to drink out of the pool, so curb that behavior by keeping some nice, fresh water nearby. The Highwave AutoDogMug Portable Dog Water Bottle & Bowl is great, and Prima Pets Collapsible Travel Bowls will come in handy over and over again.
Your dog will feel nice and cool in the water, but going the extra mile to make sure they feel comfortable when waterside will make for an even better time. Cooling vests—such as the Suitical Dry Cooling Vest—are designed to help prevent them from overheating, while booties like the Ultra Paws Rugged Dog Boots will protect their little feets from hot pavement. Remember, if the pavement or pool deck is too hot for your feet, it’s definitely too hot for your pups’ paws!
Finally, a shady reprieve can go a long way in helping keep your doggo cool while you’re enjoying the outdoors together. If you’ve got a covered porch or deck, that’s great. But if you need to add some shade to your yard, consider a covered outdoor pet bed like the K&H Pet Products Cot Canopy for Elevated Dog Bed.
We hope you’re feeling even more excited about all the smiles and splashes you’ll have this summer! With the right accessories, you and your furry family can be just as safe as you are stylish!