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Dog Life Jackets

Dog Life Jackets Can Mean Safety for Pets – and Pet Owners Too
Boating Safety

Many a dog and dog owner are inseparable pals and with the pooch population in the United States at 75 million and growing, it should come as no surprise that it isn’t just Labrador Retrievers and other time-honored water dogs climbing into boats these days. Dogs can be seen taking in the sun and spray on all manner of sail and powerboats, and adapting just fine.

But pet owners shouldn’t assume that because dogs can swim that their particular dog is an adequate swimmer, or that it has the good sense not to chase that sea gull over the side. Dogs are “hard-wired” to chase and swimming ability varies from breed to breed. Many with low body fat, like Greyhounds, may have trouble staying afloat.  Breeds with short legs and long bodies can swim but may tire quickly. Overboard, a dog can become disoriented and suffer the same hazards from coldwater immersion as humans.

A trusted friend in trouble can pose a danger for the owner too. Every year, the U.S. Coast Guard logs reports of dog owners who drown trying to rescue their pet from deep water.  Also, the bigger the dog, the harder it is to haul them back into the boat, and a large dog, wet and thrashing, can easily pull a would-be rescuer overboard.

So before bringing the family pet along on a boating excursion, ask yourself this: How well does the dog swim?  How cold is the water?  How long will it take to turn the boat around to retrieve the dog if it falls overboard?  Will the dog be easy to spot in the water? How will it get back into the boat?

Fortunately for dog owners, the same technological advancements that have resulted in specialized life jackets for every on-the-water human activity now enable boaters to extend a similar measure of safety to their pets. 

Life jackets for dogs were first introduced in the mid-1990s and have become highly popular on the nation’s inland and coastal waterways.  Found in pet shops, marine supply stores, and on the Internet, they come in a variety of colors and styles, including float coats and auto-inflatables. 

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