How to keep your pet safe on and around the water? A dog lifejacket or buoyancy aid is an essential bit of kit for our favourite furry sidekicks. We're all animal lovers here and we've tried and tested a fair few lifejackets on our pets.

Surely a dog can swim right? Well, yes, but have you ever tried hauling a wet slippery mess of fur and legs out of the water without a handle? It’s like wrestling an eel!

Best get them suited up then and give everyone a chance at getting those furry family members back onboard, whether they went for a swim intentionally or by accident.

What we are looking for in the best dog lifejacket

Bright colours for best visibility, chest straps and floatation, adjustability, a strong tethering point and a sturdy lifting handle.

There are so many choices of dog lifejacket out there.  Most are sized on the basis of weight, and this is a useful guide to make sure you have the correct size dog lifejacket. But, just like lifejackets for humans, the best way is to try one on your dog before you buy.

Make sure that when the lifejacket is on, it can’t rotate, or slide off, and that it’s a snug fit to avoid the dog being able to get a paw stuck inside. If you are looking for a buoyancy aid for your cat, there’s fewer choices but where a pet floatation device goes small enough then it may well fit your cat even if it isn’t advertised as specifically for a cat.

And most importantly of all, try out the lifting handles to make sure you can successfully pluck the dog or cat from the water if the worst should happen.

Best dog and cat lifejackets available right now

Crewsaver Pet Float

Crewsaver Petfloat

Crewsaver’s Petfloat is a quality bit of  safety kit for your pet. It has a good range of sizes, from XL all the way down to XS, which as you’ll see from our Tech Editor’s test models, Banjo in the red (in use for 10 years) and Magic in the yellow version (2 years in use), the petfloat is a good lifejacket for a chihuahua (3kg) or cat. (other small dogs are available)

On the back of the lifejacket there’s a small zipped pocket, suitable to carry small snacks, poo bags or other small items. The two handles are joined with a velcro hand grip which holds them together and when lifting your pet with both handles, provides a good balance for the cat or dog to be lifted safely.

The chest pad has light padding/buoyancy with thin foam and provides really good support for the full length of the lifejacket.

The Crewsaver Petfloat is also really easy to adjust and put on or take off. Though as the dogs walk along the pontoon, the petfloat has a tendency to sit at a jaunty angle, it doesn’t affect how it works though.

Initially the yellow and black lifejacket was too stiff to form around the small dogs body, so when it was stowed away, to help it take a better shape it has been forced into  a curve so that now it fits much better. The petfloat when new needs a bit of manipulation to get it to stop looking like a foam plank.

Reasons to buy

• Easy to adjust
• Pocket on the back
• Lifting handles and reflective strips
• Buoyant chest pad

Reasons to avoid

• The back foam can feel quite stiff on smaller dogs and not form fully to their body shape
• Small dogs ride very low to the water and would benefit from a chin float

Rating

Price £59.99

from Amazon

from YouBoat

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Red Originals


Best premium dog buoyancy aid

Red is best known for its range of premium inflatable paddleboards but it also makes a number of watersports accessories (including this Red Original Pet buoyancy aid), which from past experience tend to exhibit the same attention to detail and quality build as its paddleboards.

Hugo, Editor of Motor Boat & Yachting magazine explains: Having checked Maya’s measurements against Red’s size chart (she’s a relatively tall but slim working cocker spaniel), I ordered the small from a range that runs from XS to XL.


It fits her perfectly – tight enough to support her in the right places but with generous enough cut outs for her neck and forelegs to ensure she can still swim and run unimpeded.

Usually a reluctant lifejacket wearer, Maya seemed perfectly content in Red’s design

The Red Original buoyancy for dogs is a really well thought out, well made piece of kit. The Cordura material is soft but durable, the two main grab handles are sturdy but comfortable for the lifter and the dog, there’s a metal loop for attaching a lead, and the five adjustable straps and clips are positioned in such a way that you can’t pinch the dog while putting it on.

It’s also more stylish than other dog lifejackets she’s tried. I know that shouldn’t matter but as my wife will confirm, I take more notice of Maya’s appearance than my own!

Reasons to buy

• Roomy neck and leg cutouts mean your pooch can run and swim comfortably
• Wide range of sizes
• Sturdy and comfortable grab handless
• Pinch-proof straps

Reasons to avoid

• Far from the cheapest option on the market
• The XS might not go small enough for the smallest pets

Rating

Price £62.99

from Amazon

from eBay


Baltic Maya cat lifejacket

This cat lifejacket from Baltic is designed to be comfortable for your cat to wear which might help avoid those moments where they squirm right out of them just as soon as you’ve got the last buckle done up.

Owner of two cats, Anthony comments on the Baltic Maya, seen on both of his cats above: I think given a cats propensity for turning into liquid when you put a jacket on them, the fit is the main thing I like. It doesn’t overly restrict their natural agility so I’m confident they can still get out of trouble if they need to. That and the easy grab handle for maneuvering them about is pretty key.

The panel that sits supporting the chest can slide around into uncomfortable positions for the cat and the sizing, probably best going straight for the larger size as kitten will grow out of the smaller ones (but then I do have Maine Coons so… they’re pretty big)

Manufactured from durable yelllow and black nylon material, the Baltic Maya cat lifejacket features a lifting handle with reflective tape. It has comfortable webbing fixing straps and D-ring for attaching a lead.

It’s available in three sizes : 0-3kg, 3-7kg, 7-10kg.

Reasons to buy

• Good grab handle
• High visibility with fluorescent yellow and reflective tape
• Easy to fit/good fit

Reasons to avoid

• It can be a bit of a fiddle alongside a collar
• The chest panel can slide around

Rating

Price: £27.49

from waveinn.com


Baltic Dog Lifejacket

Baltic Pet Float dog  lifejacket

Baltic have an enviable reputation for the quality of their human lifejackets and their Pet Buoyancy Aid is one you’ll see around a lot as it’s stocked by most chandleries. This dog lifejacket is designed to be comfortable for the dog to wear while on a walk as well as on the water, meaning you’ll spend less time wresting it on and off the animal.

Manufactured from durable orange and black nylon material, this dog lifejacket features a lifting handle with glow in the dark retroreflective tape. It has comfortable webbing fixing straps and D-ring for attaching a lead. Sizing is available for dogs from 3 to 40+ kg (Small to XXL).

Reasons to buy

• Comfortable, can be worn on walks as well as on water
• Glow in the dark
• Easy to fit

Reasons to avoid

• Some customers note concerns about strap lengths

Price from: £15 for XS up to £45 for XL

from Amazon UK

from eBay


 

 

K9 pursuits dog lifejacket

K9 Pursuits Float Coat dog lifejacket

Best dog lifejacket for value

These well-reviewed dog lifejackets have adjustable straps and a neoprene chest band for comfort. There are two useful grab handles on top and it’s bright in colour for easy spotting.

It’s good quality and very well priced. It’s available in sizes from XS through to XL (2 to 45 kg) and a sizing guide is readily available.

Reasons to buy

• Great value
• Bright colours
• Good quality

Reasons to avoid

• Some customers note concerns about inaccurate sizing

RRP: £14.99

from Amazon

from eBay


K9 aquafloat dog lifejacket

WestCoast K9 Aquafloat dog lifejacket

These premium dog lifejackets wrap completely around the dog’s torso to provide a snug fit. They come in a range of bright colours and have reflective strips and large padded lifting handles on the back to make sure you can locate and retrieve a dog from the water if necessary.

Reasons to buy

• Snug fit
• Bright colours
• Lifting handles and reflective strips

Reasons to avoid

• Premium price

Price: £64.99

from Amazon


Covvy Dog Lifejacekt

COVVY dog lifejacket

Best dog lifejacket for comedy style

Available in three sizes (S, M, L) for dogs up to 77lbs, the COVVY dog life jacket is made from polyester and with polyethylene foam for buoyancy. And it’s got a shark fin for maximum style points.

There’s a large grab handle on top and quick release buckles for a speedy fitting.

Reasons to buy

• Great value
• Large grab handle
• Quick-release buckles

Reasons to avoid

• Shark fin is style over substance

RRP: £12.99

from Amazon


Outward Hound Kyjen 22020

Best dog lifejacket for buoyancy features

Available in sizes from XS to XL (dogs up to 100lbs), the Outward Hound has Velcro to secure it at each end of the dog, and quick-release clips under the torso.

It has two padded handles for easy retrieval and a front float support to keep the dog’s head above water – good for inexperienced swimmers. There are also reflective accents, although these aren’t as visible as on some of the other jackets.

Reasons to buy

• Two padded handles
• Covers many sizes
• Front float support for dogs head

Reasons to avoid

• Reflective accents aren’t very visible

RRP: £22.99

from Amazon

from eBay


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