Most of us assume all dogs know how to swim, which is a common misconception. The “doggie paddle” was named that for a reason, right? While some dog breeds love to be in the water, there are some that don’t enjoy being anywhere near the water. For some breeds that have low body fat, like Greyhounds, it can even be dangerous. These breeds may have a very difficult time staying afloat and regulating their body temperature. If a dog is afraid of the water, and shows high levels of anxiety when put in the water, their normal breathing can even be affected. Dogs that are elderly, sick, overweight and out of shape can also have issues in the water. Waves, currents, undertows, and fast-moving rivers and waters can overtake even the strongest swimmer – including a dog. Wearing a life vest may make the difference between life and death.
My pup loves to be in the boat with us, and will even jump into the lake on his own and swim. He doesn’t, however, have the best stamina in the water. This has been a concern for us, as we spend a ton of time in the water in the summer. I had seen life vests for dogs in stores, but had previously never seriously considered them. Then, last year my youngest daughter was jumping off the boat to me, and Mocha got excited and jumped in the water too. We were in the middle of the lake, and here I was with two little bodies swimming towards me. Thankfully my daughter always wears a life vest, but it still made for a juggling act getting everyone back onto the boat.
If you have ever had a dog swim to you, they are all paddling legs that don’t stop and claws. It is definitely not easy to keep yourself afloat and manage that moving furry body, and not get scratched up in the process. Dog life vests not only help your pup stay afloat, most also have a handle on the back that helps handle your pup in the water and lift them out of the water. After using the life vest, Mocha seemed to appreciate the additional lift and support from the vest, and we appreciated the piece of mind.
If you are considering a life vest for your pet, I would talk to other pet owners for their recommendations. Dogs come in every shape/size/weight, so be sure to have your pet fitted for the vest that will work best and be most comfortable for them. There are many dog life vest styles out there and the materials used have different levels of buoyancy in the water. I would also never leave your pet unattended while wearing a life vest – they can be quite hot to wear if not in the water and your pup may chew or become entangled in the vest if bored or wanting to escape.