sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery
Sail-World.com : PFDs for man's best friend
PFDs for man's best friend


'Even strong swimmers need a jacket'    . ©    Click Here to view large photo

The rising popularity in life jackets for dogs in the US indicates going out with our four-legged friends is an important part of boating. Here, the NMMA presents some points to consider.

Life jackets are essential pieces of equipment for the boater, even required by law. But does a boater's dog really need a life jacket? Is it a help or a hindrance in a 'dog overboard' situation? And how do you select the proper PFD for your pooch anyway?

The BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water has tested human life jackets several times over the years and with the growing popularity of pet life jackets, we thought it was time to look at these devices.
But this Foundation Findings, which focuses solely on dogs in life jackets, presented a new set of questions and challenging test protocols.

For one thing, there are no design or performance standards for pet devices against which to measure devices currently on the market. The pet products industry has none and neither does the U.S. Coast Guard (nor would we want them regulating life jackets for dogs).

Another challenge is the fact that dogs come in more sizes, shapes and anatomical configurations than humans. Their real-world use is different, too. Research had shown us that pet PFDs serve as flotation aids and 'dog overboard' lifting devices. And finally, we knew we had to rely on human observers to interpret each dog's performance and reactions so we included the owners on the test team.Don't All Dogs Swim?

Don't All Dogs Swim?
The first question we asked is whether a dog needs a life jacket in the first place. All dogs swim just fine, right?
As a matter of fact, no. Some dogs just don't take to the water well. Breeds with low body fat like Doberman pinschers and boxers can have trouble in the water.

Older dogs may tire easily and breeds prone to hip dysplasia may have difficulty swimming. Hypothermia can be a threat to some breeds of dogs when they are unduly exposed to cold water.

'No matter how well a dog can swim under supervision, any dog can drown,' reports Georgia Molek, a veterinarian we contacted through the American Animal Hospital Association. 'All dogs can get fatigued, too, and/or become disoriented. I'm sure life jackets are a good idea but they should never replace caution and common sense.'

Dog PFDs -  .. ©   Click Here to view large photo


If your dog ever took a long walk off a short dock (or deck), chances are you've thought about the advantage of having your pooch in a life jacket. Most products on the market have lifting handles that make retrieving your retriever much easier for you and safer for all concerned. Thus, the handles, straps, buckles and overall fit of the jackets became the most important consideration in our evaluations.

Some breeds like the Labrador and the Newfoundland are time-honored 'water dogs' but it's clear that dogs of all types go to sea these days. Thus, we selected four popular breeds, somewhat arbitrarily, from the Big Dog, Little Dog, Long Dog and All-Around Dog categories. We recruited Jackson, a Labrador retriever; Skipper, a Jack Russell terrier; Lanie, a corgi; and Aspen, a golden retriever, all accompanied by four willing owner/boaters.

Prior to testing, we weighed each dog and measured its girth just behind the front legs. From that we selected products from four manufacturers based on sizing information they supplied (see chart). Our test site, YMCA Camp Letts on the Rhode River off the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, offered a sandy beach ideal for easy entry to the water and a floating dock of adequate height to simulate a boat's freeboard.

Fetch!

To get our subjects warmed up to the tests, we had the dogs and their owners play at retrieving a favorite toy tossed into the water, sans life jacket, to watch their swimming characteristics.

Next we wanted to observe each dog's swimming ability in jackets from each manufacturer in what we thought would be the correct size, based on the guidelines supplied. That sounds simple enough but we found that each manufacturer uses different size guidelines.

As a result, Skipper, our 22-lb. Small Dog, fit in XS, S and L vests from three different manufacturers. On the other hand, Jackson, our Big Dog (106 lbs.) modeled a jacket for dogs 'over 75 lbs.' and we found that while it worked, it seemed ridiculously small. Moral: Try before you buy.

Swim!

Pet life jackets do not come with buoyancy ratings, as do human life jackets (the Coast Guard requires it). We had hoped to come up with some meaningful measure of buoyancy but decided it would have little relevance given the way dogs behave in the water. In lieu of that, we opted to document in photographs how each dog floated and swam with each jacket.

Three of the four vests buckle underneath the dog and around the neck. That puts the flotation on the dog's back or ribs. The Super Soft Doggie Vest is basically all flotation, an Ensolite panel that the front legs go through, covering the chest and buckling over the front shoulders.

The life jackets clearly changed the way each dog floated and the added buoyancy should certainly help a tired dog. Pet life jackets are designed to float the animal in a horizontal, swimming position, not with head up, out of the water. Thus, we could not measure freeboard - the distance from nose to water - as we would for humans.

Float vest -  .. ©   Click Here to view large photo


None of the jackets interfered with the dogs' swimming ability although we had some concerns about extra-long straps. The straps on the Kent Pet Vest and the Safegard Dog Life Jacket were long enough to allow for wide girth variations. While the excess strap length did not pose any problems with swimming, an owner might want to shorten the straps to avoid any snagging problems. (Leave enough for a half-hitch to keep the nylon material from slipping in the buckles, though.)

Roll Over(board)!

Except for the Super Soft Doggie Vest, the jackets we tested, as well as others we've seen, all have handles in the middle of the back. Whether you just pull the dog in with a boat hook or you actually lift the dog out of the water with it, the handle transfers the pressure to the straps that go around the midsection.

All of our observers felt the one-inch straps on the Kent and Safegard jackets could have been wider and where they cross under the dog's body concerned several owners. They felt the straps impeded their dog's ability to sit comfortably and might cut into the body unduly when lifted by the handle.

The handles on all jackets proved strong enough to lift three of the dogs; however by the time we got to this part of the test, our Big Dog, Jackson, had other interests (and at 106 lbs. bone dry, our test crew didn't chase after him).

The chart below indicates whether or not each dog's owner felt comfortable lifting the dog in a particular jacket. All owners said that in an emergency, they would not hesitate to hoist their hound aboard using the handles and anything else they could grab.

Speak!

If you are thinking about a PFD for your dog, talk to other boater/pet owners. And when you shop, remember that while size guidelines come with the jackets, based on our experience we strongly recommend that you take Rover in for 'a fitting.' Pet shops and marine supply stores should allow you to bring your dog in and try the vests. (All BoatUS Marine Centers encourage shoppers to bring in their dogs.)

Look at where the straps or other attachments contact the dog's body. In the wrong spot, these can make the dog miserable and they may try to chew them off.

Some of these devices are available in colors and patterns designed for high style but not necessarily high visibility
although Ruffwear life jackets have strips of reflective tape on the back. If visibility is important, choose your color accordingly. (A black jacket on a black dog is hard to spot; just ask Lanie.)

Based on our research, these tests and the experiences reported by BoatUS members, we think these life jackets should be considered valuable flotation aids, not essential life-saving devices. A pet life jacket will help your dog stay above water until rescued. Once you get the dog alongside, the handle will help you either retrieve the animal or lead it around to an area where it can reboard the boat on its own.

So, do dogs need life jackets? In the final analysis, only the dog's owner can make that decision. After all, this is one case in which you are your dog's best friend.

More at www.nmma.org


by NMMA

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=110971

7:28 PM Tue 18 Jun 2013GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.







News - USA and the World



America's Cup: Alameda makes overtures on Venue hosting for San Fran *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz,


































2014 Pacific Cup - Scarlet Runner wins by Vanessa Yates, Hawaii






























Women’s Match Race Golfe du Morbihan - Anna Kjellberg claims the lead
Jessica Uniack Memorial Beach to Bay Race at Long Beach YC
Laser Radial Men’s World Championship - Poland tops the leaderboard
America's Cup - Four teams confirm full support regardless of venue
Plastic Classic takes place at Mariposa Hunters Point YC
Six Metre European Championship - No champion declared for 2014
J/Teams sail tough Chicago Mackinac Race
Anna Tunnicliffe wins first event of Reebok Cross Fit Games + Video
2014 Pacific Cup - Skill and luck required for victory
Six Metre European Championship - Action resumes on day 4
BIC Techno 293 Worlds 2014 - Day 4
PWA Fuerteventura Grand Slam on the horizon
Rolex Big Boat Series - Golden Jubilee to take place this September
DH Pacific Cup - Running with the pack + Video
Women's Match Race Golfe du Morbihan - Testing day in Vannes
Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup - Ireland establishes solid lead
International Moth Worlds: Outteridge charges into the lead + Video
Marina Rubicón Round Canary Islands Race - First blood to Team Brunel
ISAF Youth Match Racing Worlds - Competition heats up on day 2
Laser Radial World Championships - Competition aplenty on day 3 +Video
Extreme Sailing Series - Penultimate Act to take place in Nice   
Leukemia Cup - Images by Leighton O'Connor   
Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup - Meeting of the grand designs   
29er North American Championship - Final series kicks off   
29er World Championship 2014 set to start in Kingston, Ontario   
Barcelona and Parnu chosen for 2015 ORC championship events   
2014 Race for Rady Yacht Race - Benefiting Rady Children’s hospital   
CMRC Summer Invitational Series - Doubleheader events start tomorrow   
BIC Techno 293 Worlds 2014 - Day 3   
Sailing through STEM Night at California YC   
Six Metre European Championship - High temps and little wind on day 3   
Women’s Match Race Golfe du Morbihan - Light wind opener in Vannes   
International Moth Worlds: Rashley ahead as Aussies close in   
Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup - Unsatisfactory conditions on day 4   
ISAF Youth Match Racing Worlds - American unbeatable on day 1   
RS Feva World Championships - All set at Yacht Club de Carnac   
ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards - Nominations now open   
BIC Techno 293 Worlds - Steady winds on day 2 + Video   
29er North American Open Championship - Qualifying series wraps up   
Opening ceremony O'pen Bic World Cup, Travemunde Week, Germany   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT