Q:" I adopted a 40 lb. Lab mix from the animal shelter. I like to spend my week-ends in the summer boating. My friends say she needs a life vest. I thought dogs were natural swimmers. Is this really necessary? If it is, what do you suggest?" Thanks Joe.
Answer: I, too, recommend a life vest. Our 40 pound pound puppy loved to ride in my Dad's boat on Crooked Creek in Western Pennsylvania. Crooked Creek was 200 to 400 feet wide in most places. Sometimes, Rinty jumped into the water when the boat slowed for passing boats, swimmers, etc. Usually he swam to shore and raced us home along the bank except when the bank was steep or he swam in circles. Getting a wet 40 pound dog into the boat was a struggle: sometimes we waited until he was exhausted to drag him in.
Most dogs enjoy boating. The problem comes when the dog jumps or falls into the water and the shore is distant or it takes time to return to get your dog. A doggie life jacket keeps the dog floating if she is tired or injured from the jump and makes it easier to pull her into the boat.
Life jackets are sized according to the weight and girth of the dog. So you have sizes extra small
(dogs up to 15 lbs.), small
for dogs 15 to 19 pounds, medium
for dogs 20 to 50 pounds, large
for dogs 40 to 70 pounds and extra large
for dogs over 70 pounds. Measure the girth to determine the size if your dog falls into several size categories.
The bright orange color let you see her better in the water. Do consider if you have the physical strength to pull a dog from the water. Dogs are prone to struggle making the task harder.
We recommend the life jackets with a grab handle to help pull the dog from the water. The Kyjen are made of tough 600 denier nylon fabric with adjustable chest and neck Velcro flaps. There are quick release buckles and a Neoprene belly band to help keep your dog warm in the water.
Hope this helps with your situation. Remember the importance of restraining a dog when in a moving vehicle of any kind. We recommend dog car seats
with restraints for smaller dogs and car seat vests
for larger animals. Both have safety straps that attach to car seat belts.