Swimming with your dog is a great way to exercise and bond with them.
But you should practice swimming safety tips such as using flotation devices to avoid accidents in the pool or at the beach.
What swimming gear should you get for your dog?
Find out whether dogs can swim with a harness on and which one to choose. You’ll also learn why dogs need a life jacket and see our top recommendations.
We also provide a list of the best flotation vest for dogs, along with the best dog water shoes.
Discover if dogs can swim on a leash and our favorite leash and collar for swimming.
Check out other swimming gear, such as dog towel wraps, goggles, and floating dog toys!
Can Dogs Swim with a Harness On?
Yes. Dogs can swim with a harness on so they can stay safe near you as they learn how to paddle.
However, you need to make sure that the harness is lightweight enough so that it does not drag your pooch down when it gets wet and absorbs a lot of water.
Putting your dog in a harness while swimming also means they might be on a leash.
Make sure they don’t get tangled with other dogs and humans in the water to avoid the danger of drowning.
To avoid the risks, we recommend only using a harness and leash in the ocean or other big bodies of water.
The harness will make it easier to grab and drag your dog through the water if they get into trouble.
Dog Collar vs. Dog Harness for Swimming
A dog collar is better than a harness for swimming, although the differences aren’t that significant.
What is essential every time your dog swims is some kind of reflective feature with a bright color to make your dog easily visible in the water.
A collar is a more lightweight and less restrictive choice for your dog.
But a dog harness can make it easier to grab your dog when necessary. The issue with some harnesses is the pads can get heavy when they are soaked in water.
Instead of being good for safety, it creates difficulty in swimming, which can lead to your dog being immersed underwater.
Some harnesses can also become loose when they get wet. Your dog may lose it in the water if it slips out.
Your choice will come down to where your dog is swimming, how competent they are in the water, and whether you are also using a vest or life jacket.
What to Look for When Buying Dog Harness for Swimming
- Material. Look for a dog harness that is waterproof, specifically nylon. Avoid heavy and water-soaking materials like leather, chain, and cotton.
- Color. As with the collar, the harness’ color must be bright or reflective to make your dog visible when you’re swimming. Instead of dark blue, choose orange, yellow, white, or red.
- Life jacket. Some dog harnesses already double as a life jacket, which is much better than using a separate harness and life vest.
- Leash. Putting your dog in a harness may mean you have to put them on a leash, especially when you’re in the ocean. For small dogs, 5 to 12-foot leashes are enough. For larger dogs, look for 50 to 150-foot leashes.
Best Dog Harness for Swimming
A dog harness that maintains comfort while providing safety is important for swimming. It is essential to get one that is made of waterproof materials
Softouch Sense-ation No-Pull Dog Harness
At a glance, Softouch’s No-Pull Dog Harness seems too thin to keep your dog safe during a swimming session. But that is by design.
A lightweight dog harness will keep them afloat. But not all lightweight dog harnesses are as durable as Softouch.
This is made of custom Softouch polyester webbing and Duraflex plastic hardware rather than metal.
At up to 1 inch, the width of the fabric can’t absorb so much water that your puppy might be submerged. It’s available in 8 sizes to fit all dog breeds.
It also features a front-leash attachment so you can guide and keep them close while they explore the water.
It’s available in five different colors, but we recommend you choose green, pink, or red so they stay visible in the water.
The no-pull dog harness fits properly on the armpit and torso parts of the body, keeping their front and back legs free to paddle as much as they want.
You can easily adjust all sides according to your dog’s size.
This harness is also one of the best to prevent pulling during walks. It is perfect for positive reinforcement training and leash-training your pup.
Hurtta Weekend Warrior Dog Harness
If you prefer a thicker and more secure harness that does not soak a lot of water, Hurtta’s Weekend Warrior Dog Harness is ideal.
We recommend this harness for dogs who are already confident swimmers.
That’s because newbies might not be comfortable with how heavy it is, especially when they still need a life jacket on top of it.
The padded harness is durable and comes in five sizes for all dog breeds and shapes. Even though it’s padded, your dog stays cool on the beach because of the high-quality materials.
It includes four points for adjustment located on the chest strap and neck strap. It also features buckles to make adjusting easier.
There’s no need to lift them out of the water when you want to tighten or loosen the harness.
To make your dog visible in the water, the reflective prints and piping will help you find them more easily.
In case your dog has trouble swimming against the current, it will be easy for you to grab them because of the strong handle on top. It also has a steel ring for you to attach to the leash.
Do Dogs Need a Life Jacket?
Yes. All dogs need a life jacket for safety. Some dogs need the extra support because their legs are too short, or their breathing is difficult.
Some breeds have low body fat, so they aren’t as buoyant as others.
Dogs also need a life jacket because it can be hard to tell when they get tired. They may lose coordination or balance no matter how great they are at swimming.
A life jacket will help them take a break when they need to. They can stop paddling and they will continue to stay afloat.
Your dog also needs a life jacket because some open water has unseen hazards. Lakes, for example, contain foliage and branches that might get your dog stuck.
It’s also hard for some to swim against a current so they might get pushed out to the deeper waters.
A life jacket will keep your dog afloat until you can get to them.
What to Look for When Buying a Dog Life Jacket
The purpose of a dog life jacket is to provide enough buoyancy that your dog doesn’t sink in the water.
This means you should check the weight limit of the life jacket to ensure it is the right one for your dog.
The life jacket should hold your furry friend’s weight in the water. Some have flotation parts under the belly to ensure they stay afloat.
These sections may also be on the sides and back of the jacket.
But you should get a life jacket that also includes a flotation section in the neck of your dog so that their head stays above water.
Most life jackets for humans and dogs are bright orange. This is important for your dog to be easily visible in the blue water.
A brightly colored life jacket not only helps you locate your dog quickly but also prevents collisions with jet skiers and boaters.
In addition to having a bright color, one with a reflective or fluorescent fabric will help you see your dog in the water, especially in open lake water.
Most life vests are adjustable. Pick one with optimal adjustability on all sides so that the gear fits your dog well.
You don’t want your dog to slip out of the vest and risk drowning. Neither do you want them to have trouble breathing because the life jacket is too tight.
An adjustable life jacket also ensures your dog gets the most comfortable fit so that they can paddle more efficiently in the water.
A D-ring will help you attach a leash to the life jacket easily. If you don’t want them to be lost in the water, this will be helpful.
Make sure that the D-ring is durable but not too heavy that your dog submerges underwater.
It should also be placed in a convenient area so that they don’t get dragged in the water. The most convenient area to have the D-ring will be on your pooch’s back.
Size and Fit
Even if your dog’s life jacket is highly adjustable, the size still matters. Most are available in 4 to 7 varying sizes, so pick one that fits your dog perfectly.
As your dog wears the life jacket, they must be able to breathe well, paddle comfortably, and sit and lie down.
They should also find it convenient to relieve themselves while wearing it.
Record their girth and torso measurements before buying the life jacket to make sure you get the right fit.
A strong handle will help you lift your dog easily out of the water in case they need help. It’s essential if they get distressed or too exhausted to swim.
The grip must be durable, comfortable, and strong so you can guide your dog in and out of the water and assist a dog with mobility issues.
What is the Difference Between a Life Jacket and a Life Vest?
You might think that dog life jackets and life vests are the same thing. But there are differences.
A life jacket covers more of a dog’s body than a life vest. This means it also provides more visibility and buoyancy.
It’s perfect for dogs who don’t know how to swim or have trouble swimming.
A life jacket is important for puppies even if they only swim in your backyard pool. Anywhere where the water is too deep for their legs to touch the ground.
If you’re going boating or swimming in deep bodies of water, a life jacket is highly recommended for your dog.
But if your dog is only swimming in a pool, and they are a competent swimmer, a life vest or flotation vest will do just fine.
Your dog won’t be hard to find or rescue in a pool, so its medium visibility is adequate.
Your dog won’t have trouble swimming in pools as well because there is no current.
Because a life vest is lighter and covers less of their body, it is more breathable and comfortable. It’s also more suitable for dogs who are already expert swimmers.
Best Dog Life Jacket
A dog life jacket is essential for a puppy, beginner swimmer, or a dog swimming in a big body of water like a lake or the ocean.
The best life jacket to get for your dog is Outward Hound’s Dog Life Jacket. It has a thick foam to keep your dog afloat despite their body weight.
There’s even a foam on the chin panel to support their head.
The first thing you’ll notice with this life jacket is the double handle which will help you lift a heavy dog with two hands.
The grip is sturdy and comfortable. It won’t slip out of your hands when you carry your dog this way.
This handle will be useful in case of an emergency, when you need to quickly grab your dog.
The Outward Hound life jacket also features adjustable support in front of their torso with a neoprene belly band to keep them comfortable and safe.
It’s ideal for both beginner and expert swimmers because of its construction.
The durable and comfortable polyester ripstop does not restrict movement so that your dog maximizes their leg movement underwater.
Another special feature of this jacket is the lightweight buckles, handles, and material.
Some materials attached to a life jacket are so heavy that the device fails to offer buoyancy.
This life jacket is available in five sizes, so it can fit all dog breeds, whether it’s a Chihuahua or a Great Dane.
Make sure to measure the girth and weight of your dog before choosing a size.
This includes the circumference of the widest part of their ribcage.
It’s also available in seven bright colors. All these colors provide visibility in the water. These include:
Learn more about the best life jackets for your dog.
Best Dog Flotation Vest
For pool swimmers and expert swimmers, EzyDog DFD X2 Flotation Device is the best choice as it provides the most comfortable fit possible. It’s the new version of their best-selling dog life jacket which has a more ergonomic fit.
Despite not covering your dog’s whole body, the weight and flotation of this vest are evenly distributed throughout their torso for optimal buoyancy. The foam passes through their neck, belly, and whole back.
With this flotation system, along with the panels designed to fit the dog’s torso, your dog will stay in a naturally upright swimming position. They will be able to swim and run more freely without fuss.
It’s also adjustable for the most comfortable fit and optimal buoyancy. The adjustable points only need to be adjusted once on the fixed collar part. It maintains the same position all the time while still providing adjustment.
Within the neck strap is all the webbing so that no loose material can irritate your dog.
To safely retrieve your dog in case of an emergency, the grab handle, which has a strong grip, is located at the back part to securely grab your dog in and out of the water.
It’s available in red and yellow for you to see your dog in the middle of water no matter how small they are.
For more visibility, the life vest has reflective piping for light to pass through and keep your dog seen in the ocean or pool.
The reflective piping is also ideal if you plan on going for an evening swim with your dog. Just make sure that the water isn’t too cold during this time.
Because the vest does not cover the whole body, this flotation vest is perfect for teaching your dog to swim in shallow waters or letting your expert dog swim in a safe body of water.
Can Dogs Swim on a Leash?
Yes, but it’s not always recommended.
Some beaches that allow dogs to swim in the water will require you to put them on a leash. This will help avoid accidents like straying too far because of the current, drowning, and jumping from a boat.
It’s also ideal to put your dog on a leash while they are still learning how to swim. This will allow you to guide them and keep them nearby. And in case they get tired of paddling, you’ll just pull them closer and assist them in being put out of the water.
If your dog knows how to swim and you’re only swimming in your backyard pool, then a leash may not be necessary. It might even cause inconveniences because the leash may be too heavy for them to keep swimming.
We also don’t recommend putting your dog on a leash when the water is crowded, such as if you’re at a public pool. You don’t want your dog to get tangled with other people and dogs.
When picking a leash for your dog, make sure it is water-resistant. Otherwise, it will be too heavy because it is overly soaked in water.
It should also be durable so that you don’t lose your pooch in the middle of the water just because of a tear in the leash.
The same features are important when you’re attaching a leash to their collar. Their neck should feel as light as possible so that their heads don’t sink in the water.
However, if your dog’s life jacket or flotation vest already has a D-ring for a leash, then a collar is unnecessary.
Best Dog Leash for Swimming
Our top pick for a dog swimming leash is Dutchy Brand’s Ultra Strong Dog Leash.
This lightweight lead is ideal for training your dog in land and water because at 6 feet, it is just right to control them while still allowing movement.
Your dog will be able to paddle freely without going too far. Staying afloat won’t be a challenge for them because they don’t have to drag the leash while exploring the lake.
This extremely lightweight dog leash is perfect for puppies, small dogs, and even large dogs who are learning how to swim.
Even though you have a tough pooch, the product won’t be torn or ripped because of their strong pull.
While it seems basic, the leash is built to withstand different kinds of stains, water, and pulls, thanks to the strong nylon material. Their one-layer variant is tougher than most nylon leashes.
But if you opt for their double-layer design, you are guaranteed three times more strength than the regular leather and nylon leashes.
Leashes with metal fixtures must be avoided when used for swimming, but Dutchy Brand’s light metal clips still make swimming a breeze.
Despite its strength, softness and comfort are still guaranteed. Your hand won’t be irritated because of the padded handle provided.
This leash is available in five beautiful colors to suit your preference for your dog. It’s also marketed for different kinds of dog activities aside from training.
You can use it for running, walking riding, and swimming.
Best Dog Collar for Swimming
The best collar to pair your leash with is Packt’s Endeavor Dog Collar. It’s available in seven similar colors to make the whole swimming look cohesive.
We think it’s perfect for swimming because the American-made collar is made of plastic. This means it’s the perfect mix of lightweight and water-resistant.
The sleek design of the dog collar is just a bonus. Did you know that Packt is made of SuperFLEX material which does not absorb water?
It’s also durable. A strong current or pull won’t break this product because of the tight stitches.
The buckle is easy to snap to or remove from your dog, making swimming preparations easier for both of you.
You can attach the leash to the powder-coated steel D-ring. It is not too heavy, but it’s still secure and safe because it is rust-resistant.
Do Dogs Need Water Shoes?
A pair of water shoes can be important to protect your dog’s paws from injuries underwater.
If your dog will only be swimming in a pool, then there is no need to get water shoes for them.
However, if you think there is an increased risk of the pool liner being damaged by your furry friend’s paw nails, then you may let them wear water shoes.
Some pools and lakes are home to numerous bacteria and germs. To keep the paws clean, water shoes are beneficial.
They are also ideal for dogs who like to jump a lot in the pool. These energetic dogs tend to hurt their paw pads because of their actions.
If you plan on going to the beach, where the sand and other underwater debris may irritate their paws, a pair of water shoes will come in handy.
If you will be swimming in a public pool or a crowded ocean, then water shoes will also prevent your dog from scratching you and other nearby people with their long nails.
Water shoes help to protect their paws from cold water or other cold surfaces. Too much exposure to the cold may lead to dry and painful paws.
What to Look for When Buying Dog Water Shoes
Here are some factors to consider when choosing the best water shoes for your dog.
- Anti-Skid Sole. Going in and out of the pool only means one thing: a slippery surface. Don’t let your dog slip and get wounded just because their shoes don’t offer enough traction. A rugged sole will help keep your dog balanced and steady.
- Good fit. Water shoes that are too tight may cause discomfort to the paws, making swimming less enjoyable. But you also don’t want the shoes to fall off as your dog paddles. Get doggie booties that are just the right size.
- Easy to Wear. Don’t ruin your dog’s excitement just because you’re having trouble putting on their water shoes. Get dog shoes that fit easily with Velcro grips or adjustable straps.
Best Dog Boots for Swimming
Our favorite water shoes for dogs are Bark Brite’s All-Weather Neoprene Dog Boots.
These adorable booties are made of high-quality neoprene to fit your dog’s paws no matter the shape. It is expandable, flexible, and comfortable.
Available in five sizes, the shoes cater to all breeds and sizes for easy and enjoyable water activities like swimming.
They do not hinder paw movements because of the conforming material and the wide array of sizes,
The newest version of Bark Brite also features a rubber sole with tread to provide friction every time they walk and paddle.
This means the shoes are anti-slip and great for other outdoor adventures like hiking and running.
However, don’t expect your dog’s paws to remain dry as they swim. These shoes are not waterproof despite being able to protect their paws from underwater hazards.
They also have reflective straps for adjustment and a bit of visibility. Lastly, the shoes feature a 3.5-inch slit at the back for easy wearing and taking off.
Overall, Bark Brite will keep the paws safe and clean. When not in the water, they will also keep your dog’s paws dry.
Dog Towel Wrap
After a good swimming session, your dogs need to be bathed and wrapped in a towel like The Snuggly Dog Microfiber Dog Towel.
This towel is made of 400sgm microfiber that easily absorbs wetness from your dog’s coat and skin. The dense material is unlike other dog towels out there.
This towel is made specifically for pets, which means it works better than normal towels. Can a regular human bath towel wick away moisture from dog fur? No!
It comes in small, medium, large, and extra-large and can be washed on a delicate cycle.
You might also want to pack a dog sunscreen when you’re planning to swim with your dog.
Use formula specially made for dogs because ingredients like zinc oxide or PABA in human sunscreens are toxic to them.
Because dogs are furry, sunscreen sprays like Epi-Pet Sun Protector Spray are better than sticks and creams. It’s easy to apply and it’s non-greasy.
With SPF 30, this sunscreen protects your dog from both UVA and UVB rays.
This sunscreen also doubles as a skin and coat conditioner for your dog. It prevents pool and lake water from drying up their fur.
Dog Swim Goggles
Protect your puppy’s eyes when swimming with the QUMY Dog Goggles. These affordable goggles provide shade to your furry friend’s eyes.
They also protect their eyes from sand and wind as they frolic on the beach.
They have a dual-lens design to protect both eyes while at the same time being shatter-proof and UV-resistant.
The goggles also have a hinged bridge to help fit your dog’s face perfectly.
Floating Dog Toys
Want to play a game of fetch in the water? Chuckit! Ultra Fetch Stick is a buoyant toy that your dog will love to retrieve as they swim.
Because it’s orange it highly contrasts the water’s color, making it more visible to your dog’s eyes.
It is also extremely durable that you can use it for many summers to come!
If your dog would rather play with a ball, Chuckit! Ultra Ball Dog Toy also floats on water with the same beautiful orange color.
Aside from being lightweight and buoyant, it also bounces high when thrown on land.
Make Pool Time Safe for Your Dog.
Take your dog to the water for some cool exercise. But make sure you have a set of complete swimming gear to keep them safe around the pool or by the beach.
It’s easy to protect them from water hazards through the right harness, life jacket, flotation vest, and other gear.
Teach them safe pool manners as well. If you want to make them more skilled in the water you can train your dog to swim underwater.