Raise your hand if you reckon dogs can swim. Hand up? Well… you would be right! And… well… wrong. Take my dog Pluto. Not only does she swim beautifully, but she took to the water like a pro the very first time we were near a creek. Splash!! In and swimming without a single lesson. Let me tell you we were quite impressed. If you’ve been around dogs like mine it seems a safe bet that dogs can swim. Right? So why would a dog need a life vest?
SURPRISE! NOT ALL DOG BREEDS CAN SWIM!
Picture a greyhound, a bulldog, a mastiff, a chihuahua and a rotweiller. Dogs’ sizes and shapes are incredibly different and impact their aquatic abilities.
SO HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR DOG NEEDS A LIFE VEST?
If you’ve got one of the more sturdy or square breeds like a bulldog, boxer or pug, or one with very short legs like a dachshund, chances are you have’t got an Ian Thorpe on your hands. Your dog may love the water but will definitely benefit from some help with buoyancy. Go the dog life vest!
If your dog is a retriever, a spaniel, a newfie, or a poodle you’ve probably got an instant swimmer. Just add water. These breeds have strong limbs and a long tradition of swimming.
Every dog is a unique though and just because a dog’s body is built to swim doesn’t mean you’ve got a water lover. Some dogs are very afraid of water for whatever reason. You may be able to teach your fearful dog to enjoy swimming. But for safety’s sake with a fearful dog go the canine life vest.
What about your beloved bitzer? You can probably have a solid guess if you take a look at your dog’s physique. Long strong limbs on a lean body? Swimmer. Square and stout with no neck? Sinker.
ANOTHER THING TO KEEP IN MIND IS THAT EVEN DOGS WHO CAN SWIM CAN’T SWIM FOREVER.
If you’re on a water adventure and you’re bringing a life vest for yourself, definitely bring one for your furry mate. Your safety vest is a precaution in case you have to be in the water for an extended period of time, in rough conditions, or in a challenging temperature. These same conditions will affect your dog’s ability to stay afloat. Fatigue can be deadly. My advice? Go the dog life vest!
CHOOSING THE BEST CANINE LIFE VEST FOR YOUR DOG
I’ll run you through the main features of the Ruffwear Canine Float Coat, the EzyDog Standard Dog Floatation Vest and the EzyDog Micro Dog Floatation Vest. They are the vests we carry at Waggle. All models are great for buoyancy and safety. There are a few important details that set them apart which I’ll explain after.
Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat (full size range to suit all dogs)
EzyDog Standard Dog Floatation Vest (for dogs over 7kg )
EzyDog Micro Dog Floatation Vest (for dogs 7kg + under )
SO, WHAT’S THE SKINNY ON DOG LIFE VESTS?
At a glance the features look fairly similar but there are some important differences. Both the EzyDog and Ruffwear models will keep your dog safely afloat. Here’s what sets them apart.
1. COMFORT ADVANTAGE: The Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat is a more streamlined fitting life jacket. If your dog will be wearing the life vest for long periods of time we recommend the Ruffwear because it’s definitely the less bulky option. It’s a more structured form fitting design.
2. FIT ADVANTAGE: The Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat‘s telescopic neck construction is a strange sounding feature, but it can really make a BIG difference in terms of neck fit. The neck adjusts by telescoping into itself and then is secured by a buckle to whatever size is required. This means your dog’s neck is always going to be fully enclosed by floatation material. Squarish shaped dogs with little or no neck length, pay attention to this one. Sometimes short wide dogs with big girths will not have floatation material encircling their entire neck on the EzyDog options. It will still keep them afloat and safe, but the neck can be more cumbersome and not be fully encircled with floatation material. For most dogs shapes though, this isn’t a problem.
3. SAFETY ADVANTAGE: The Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat has sheltered buckles. This is an advantage as there is less chance of your dog’s life vest straps getting caught on anything in the water. I haven’t heard of this happening, but the less accessible strap and buckle seems like a great safety feature in my book.
4. COST ADVANTAGE: Both the EzyDog Standard Dog Floatation Vest and the EzyDog Micro Dog Floatation Vest are a good deal less expensive than the Ruffwear model. If your dog won’t be wearing the floatation vest very often or for very long durations the EzyDog vests may suit your budget more. And the EzyDog vests are both excellent, safe options with many similar features to the Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat.
I hope I’ve given you some insight into the ins and outs of dog life jackets. If you have a burning question or would like to have a chat about what’s best for your dog we’re here to help! Just give me a ring on 1300 725 781 and I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
As always, all the best to your pack!