GOOD BoatU.S. FOUNDATION FOR FOUNDATION BOATING SAFETY & CLEAN WATER BY CHRIS EDMONSTON
FOUNDATION FINDINGS #52
IT’S A DOG’S LIFE (JACKET!)
The last thing we want is for Fido to fall overboard, creating panic onboard, and a potential
safety nightmare. Fitting him for a life jacket is easy – really! – if you follow a few simple tips
Stella models the Kurgo Surf N’ Turf life jacket.
many dogs simply don’t take well to water.
Dogs with low body fat, such as greyhounds, or dogs with age or health issues
may have trouble. Jackets are a good idea
even for dogs that love the water. A long
day in the water can get tiring, even for the
best swimmers — a fact that was proven
on our day of testing.
Most of our test jackets came in a variety
of sizes, so we were able to try them out on
a variety of dogs — from a 12-pound rat terrier, to a 130-pound Newfoundland, and six
other dogs in between. There are also different types of foam and construction materials
in use today, as well as an inflatable model.
With prices ranging from about $20 to more
than $100, there’s a vibrant dog-PFD market, and a jacket for every budget.
Some of the most important safety items on any boat are the life jackets — for you, your passengers, and of course your “best friend.” Since our last report on this topic 12 years ago, the canine life jacket market has taken off by leaps and hounds. Back in 2000, we came up with four viable canine life jacket
models. This time, we were easily able to double the number of jackets
tested. West Marine has many in regular stock, and so do some of the big-box
stores. While it might seem as if all dogs have an innate ability to swim,
SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER
Is the dog likely to jump in the water? Is the
dog heavy? Will the dog want to lie down, or
will it be active? If you can, take your dog to
the store to try on the jacket, or at least make
sure you can take it back. See how the jacket
fits, and how hard it is to adjust for a good
fit. Check where the straps hit — you don’t
want the straps or buckles rubbing sensitive
parts. Also, you’ll want to check the way
the foam padding rides on the dog — too
much foam in the wrong place will make it
uncomfortable, if not impossible, for the dog
to sit or lie comfortably.
One feature that testers found universally important: a lifting strap/handle.
If you’ve ever tried to pick up a swimming dog, you’ll agree that having a lifting
handle makes getting the dog back into the
boat much easier. If your pet needs to be
on a leash, having a ring on the collar is
another important feature. Safety features