Does a dog really need a life jacket?
Swimming is not only fun for dogs, but also good for health. Due to the reduced weight of the body in the water, it is also possible for animals with pain to achieve an effective and at the same time joint-friendly muscle building. Joints, ligaments and tendons as well as the spine can be relieved. It also promotes the reactivation of neural pathways, trains healthy movement patterns. Furthermore, swimming trains the cardiovascular system and improves or rebuilds fitness.
Thus, dogs with joint diseases, neurological diseases, older and overweight but also athletic and healthy dogs benefit enormously from swimming. I’ll tell you what you need to keep in mind when swimming in my article on swimming.
Why a life jacket? Any dog can swim after all!
Ok, on the high seas, when your dog accompanies you on the boat, stand up paddling or on the canoe, he should wear a vest for safety reasons. There is no way around that.
But isn’t it overkill when swimming in the lake?!
True, every dog can swim, but not every dog is a good swimmer. And when it comes to more than splashing around, when we want to train our dog or support his recovery, it is important that the swimming movements are calm and steady and that the dog lies straight and calm in the water. Many dogs, especially if they are not physically fit, kick wildly, are uncoordinated and the movements are uneven and the back in a slight oblique position.
These are not good conditions for building muscles, training movements and keeping the dog fit or helping it recover.
What can the life jacket do?
A life jacket for your dog:
- works like a vest for humans: it gives buoyancy. Thanks to buoyancy cells or buoyancy material, usually neoprene, the body is kept above water.
- ensures that the back remains straight.
- ensures that the dog can fully concentrate on his movements due to the buoyancy.
gives you the opportunity to guide your dog’s movements and also set the pace.
What makes a good life jacket?
No matter what purpose you want to use the life jacket for, there are some points to consider when choosing a life jacket:
- The vest must be buoyant and have enough buoyancy to support your dog while swimming.
- The buoyancy cells must be placed in such a way that the dog is not tilted and its natural swimming movements are not impaired. If the buoyant area is in the chest area, you have a good reference point for this.
- Belly floats provide additional buoyancy.
- It should give your dog enough freedom of movement. TEST: Your dog must be able to move around in the vest without problems, even on land, and must be able to move his legs back and forth to the normal extent of movement.
- The vest should not cut in, should not have sharp edges and should be well padded.
- It should have a sturdy and stable grab handle so you can hold, guide and secure your dog to it.
- Adjustable straps and belts are important so that it fits well and individually to your dog. This ensures that it fits well and does not slip during swimming.
- It is important to have a sturdy and tear-resistant material, as well as good and stable seams.
- The material should be (form) stable, even when wet and dry quickly.
- Make sure that high-quality and sturdy buckles/closures are processed and that the vest has a D-ring for the safety line.
- The vest should be lightweight and gain little weight even when wet.
We got the opportunity to test a life jacket for you
We tested the Alcott Mariner dog life jacket for all the points that are important in a life jacket.
With 30 degrees and sunshine, Tessa and Snowy did not miss the opportunity to test the life jacket extensively during their trips into the cool water and their swimming sessions.
Tessa, in good health, agile and a super swimmer.
Snowy, various joint diseases, a rather moderate swimmer.
- Visually, it looks great in either aqua blue or sunny yellow.
- The life jacket is very affordable, which makes it an attractive entry-level model.
- The vest is made of durable and quick-drying nylon and is a real lightweight.
- It is equipped with 3 buoyancy chambers.
- There are 3 Velcro closures that make the life jacket well adjustable to the chest and abdomen.
- It is equipped with a comfortable, soft neoprene belly section that distributes pressure evenly across the chest.
- If the vest fits well, it does not cut in and is designed so that the dog has a very good freedom of movement.
- There is a chin float to keep the dog’s head above water.
The lifting handle is even pleasantly padded.
- There are reflective strips on the sides.
- Material: nylon, neoprene
- Unfortunately, only 3 sizes to choose from, which could be difficult for an ideal fit. Size M was a little too small on Tessa’s belly. For Snowy the vest in size L was still a little too big.
- If your dog is affected by the size issue, it is also ggfs. difficult to do justice to the following points:
– Normal range of motion
– No cutting in
– Good fit and also no slipping when swimming
- The life jacket does not automatically keep the dog afloat, he must keep paddling. We wanted to know exactly and have tested: The vest in size M has a buoyancy force of 3.2 kg, the vest in size L has a buoyancy force of 5.2 kg.
- There is no D-ring to attach a leash.
The vest is super suitable to support and relieve your dog in the water. It is useful when your dog is frolicking in shallower waters with other dogs, or when you want to stabilize and relieve him during swim training. Snowy in particular was lying with her body much straight in the water and seemed to benefit especially from the buoyancy of the vest. Her movements were much smoother and I could control her movements better thanks to the hold. However, it does not provide enough buoyancy to save the life of an exhausted dog, as it must always paddle itself to stay afloat. (However, the manufacturer also points this out). Therefore, for activities at sea should resort to a classic life jacket. It is also not suitable for swimming exercises with a paralyzed dog during rehab, as it does not completely support the dog.
As an entry-level model to provide support and guidance to the dog during swimming exercises, the Alcott Mariner dog life jacket is a very good and affordable solution. You want to have exactly this vest for your dog? Click here for the Alcott Mariner dog life jacket!