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Newbie/question on life jackets for dogs

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Dont Miss! Newbie/question on life jackets for dogs

Post by Linda K on Sat May 02, 2009 4:39 pm

Hi All!

I have a 4 year old Lab that I would like to do dockdiving with. The problem I have is that he started having seizures when he was10 months old, totally controlled by medication. In fact after 6 months on meds he was slowly weaned off of them and was not on them for over 2 years with no seizures until this past winter. After 2 of them 3 weeks apart I put him back on meds and he has had none since.
I would like to do dock diving with him, let alone let him swim but am afraid of him having a seizure out in the water- not so much the pool but out in ponds.
I have 2 questions for the group-
1. Am I an idiot to even consider letting this dog swim? Right now I let him out in lakes that have a long shallow entry- as I can't throw far enough to get him into deep water
2. Do the dog life jackets really work? I know people use them on dogs that are a little timid, but I need to know if they could really keep a 75# lab afloat, head out of water.
3. IF the life jackets work, what ones would anyone recommend? I have been doing some searching and there are many out there- not sure how good they are.

Thanks for any info. I am thinking of maybe driving down to K-zoo tomorrow to watch the diving. Maybe I can talk to folks there?


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Dont Miss! Re: Newbie/question on life jackets for dogs

Post by AmphibiousAssaultDogTeam on Sat May 02, 2009 5:00 pm

I would ask your vet and maybe try the vest in the water with your dog in the shallow first.
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Dont Miss! Re: Newbie/question on life jackets for dogs

Post by Phoenix on Sat May 02, 2009 7:24 pm

I know our life jacket we use for Annie works like a charm. I will try to post a picture at some point soon with her using it. She is 56 lbs give or take a few. BUT I don't think by any means if her head was uncontrolable because of a seizure that the jacket would keep it out of the water. A dog life jacket is not designed to keep the head out of the water but instead to keep the dog afloat. Which ours does very well. I know Ruff Wear makes a great life jacket. That isn't the kind we have as I wanted to try it on first but I really like the ruff wear ones that I have seen.
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Dont Miss! Re: Newbie/question on life jackets for dogs

Post by Linda K on Sun May 03, 2009 11:12 pm

Thanks, that's the kind of info I am looking for- I wasn't sure how well they would keep head out of water- I have found one that looks like it could but it also looks really cumbersome.

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Dont Miss! Re: Newbie/question on life jackets for dogs

Post by Angela on Mon May 04, 2009 2:50 pm

Here is a nice one. You can remove the self-inflating device when you want to delibertely send your dog into the water and manually inflate it. The man works with canine Search and Rescue teams: http://www.crittersinflatable.com/
Back in the day before anyone even heard of buying life vests for dogs (and we worried about the possibility of the boon knocking our dog into the water unconcious), we used an old fashioned (the rounded orange ones with the barrel shaped piece that went behind the head) child's vest, weight appropriate. We fastened it snuggly (not TIGHT) on our dog with the part that went over the front of the child's chest resting on our dog's back and with the head piece resting in front of her at about the clavicle. When she went into the water that piece floated up just under her chin and held her head out of the water. Cheap, but effective.
I'm not sure of what distances you are working with. You might want to consider using a drag line to pull your dog to you should it need your assistance. Of course you would have to take care to prevent it from wrapping up on your dog or anything else.
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Dont Miss! Re: Newbie/question on life jackets for dogs

Post by LynnSWD on Tue May 05, 2009 5:09 pm

My boy wears a Ruff Wear and it does great for him....he weighs around 45 lbs.
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Dont Miss! Re: Newbie/question on life jackets for dogs

Post by Kel on Tue May 05, 2009 6:09 pm

I'll second the drag line suggestion, if you feel it is needed. UAD has had a few other dogs jump with long lines on, so your pup would not be the first.

As for dog-made life jackets, the only issue with many of them (with an exception being the one Angela provided the link to) is that they are unfortunately not designed to keep an unconcious dog's head out of the water. The reason we used human vests with the cylindrical "head rest" piece is for exactly that reason. While most dog PFDs are going to keep the body afloat just fine, their head can still lean/rock forward and their muzzle can easily end up completely underwater. To prevent that, I'd recommend either sewing/velcroing/whatever some sort of attachment (probably a removable one) similar to how the human PFD style mentioned would work... or just use the human style one to begin with.

I think whether or not this is a sport for your pup will really depend on his individual case history and current health. For example, are his seizures very random or do they tend to be connected with certain triggers (heightened excitement or anxiety, for example)? I think it would definitely be worth discussing with your veterinarian, just for your own peace of mind, at the least.

Do keep in mind, though, that we actually have several dogs in this sport (and many other sport teams I know) who have seizures on various levels and connected with various triggers. I would recommend emailing Milt about this... he could probably give you some good input based on personal experience. Sweet!
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Dont Miss! Re: Newbie/question on life jackets for dogs

Post by miinganharmony on Tue May 26, 2009 12:07 am

I don't really have much experience with the doggie life jackets, but as far as you go I would have something on him so you can get to him easily. I would go with a jacket, and if you can find one with a leash (long line) attachment so if you need to pull him out quickly you can and it will be connected. I would never have him in an open lake/pond without it. The pools are a little different. There's always lots of people, easy access and you can get to him, fast. Maybe have him jump with a harness in the pool so you have a handle? Just my thoughts. Hope you'll be dock diving soon!
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Dont Miss! Re: Newbie/question on life jackets for dogs

Post by bc12 on Mon Jun 01, 2009 10:00 pm

In addition to Ruff Wear, I would recommend the EzyDog dog life jacket brand. They are made for larger dogs and have extra buoyancy on the side that should help keep him stable if he has a seizure. Hope this helps.

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