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Updated August 2022
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Buying guide for Best reflective dog vests

Walking your dog before dawn or after dusk certainly has its benefits. Sidewalks are quieter and cooler, and the air feels a bit fresher. But it isn't entirely risk-free either. In the dark, your canine is practically invisible to motorists, cyclists, and perhaps even you too. Luckily, a reflective dog vest can help.

Reflective dog vests have reflective strips and patches that make your pooch far more visible in low light. Most also come in bright fluorescent colors that are easy to spot from a distance, and some are even fitted with LED lights for extra visibility. However, not all reflective dog vests are created equal. Before you select one, you need to consider a handful of factors. 

Hook-and-loop fasteners might work for smaller or less active dogs, but when it comes to large breeds or more energetic dogs, vests with buckle-and-clasp closures are a much more secure option.

Key considerations


A few factors go into determining just how visible a reflective dog vest really is in the dark. Let's take a look.

Color: The best reflective dog vests come in bright fluorescent colors like orange, yellow, and green. These colors are easier to make out in low light and can be seen from quite a distance too.

Reflective strips: While some vests only have reflective piping around the edges, many have multiple (or wider) reflective strips, and a few feature paw-shaped reflective patches as well. Although any amount of reflective material can help improve visibility, more will certainly make your dog harder to miss.

LEDs: A few newer models come with LEDs embedded in the reflective strips or elsewhere on the vest. While there's no disputing that these vests are the most visible of the lot, there's no guarantee that the lights (or the charging mechanism) won't fail at some point. If you do decide to get a dog vest with LEDs, we strongly recommend that you opt for a brightly colored model that has a decent amount of reflective material. That way, your dog will still be visible even if the lights go out.


One of the biggest stumbling blocks you'll face when looking for a reflective dog vest is choosing the right size. Most vests are somewhat adjustable, but if you're hoping to achieve a proper fit the first time around, you'll need to measure your dog carefully. Take a look at the manufacturer’s size chart to find out exactly which measurements to take (for instance, back length, neck diameter, and chest diameter). When you're ready to measure, try holding the measuring tape in the same way you'd expect your dog's vest to fit so that it's not too tight or too loose.


Reflective dog vests come in designs that are suitable for all seasons. Choosing a weather-appropriate option will help keep your dog as comfortable as possible. For warmer weather, you'll want something that's lightweight and breathable. For those cold, wet months, you might want to opt for a vest with a water-resistant shell and a cozy fleece lining to help your pup keep warm. Getting two reflective dog vests, one for warm weather and one for cold, is the best way to ensure year-round comfort.


When it comes to safety gear, durability is directly linked to reliability. A flimsy buckle or badly stitched reflective strips could cause your reflective dog vest to fail right when you need it most, potentially spelling disaster for you and your canine companion. To sidestep unnecessary stress and headaches, try to choose a quality reflective dog vest with strong buckles, reinforced stitching, and sturdy fabric that won't tear at the touch of a twig.

Cleaning ease

Dogs can get into some serious messes, and even if they don't, shedding and odors will likely necessitate regular cleaning of the vest. Reflective dog vests that are machine washable are hands-down the easiest to maintain, with hand-wash-only vests coming a close second. Those with electrical components like LEDs, on the other hand, can usually only be wiped down and will be much more difficult to keep clean.

Did You Know?
Reflective dog vests aren't just for nighttime use. If you hunt or live in a hunting region, a brightly colored reflective vest will help keep your dog visible and safe.


Water resistance

Many reflective dog vests are made with naturally water-resistant materials like polyester, and some are specially treated to repel water as well. Others may be lined with waterproof materials to help keep your pooch as dry as possible. If the most you anticipate is a light drizzle or an occasional shower, any degree of water resistance should be adequate. However, if you live in a region that regularly experiences heavy downpours or snow, it's a good idea to choose a vest that offers extra protection from the elements.


Adjustability is an important feature simply because it allows pet parents a small window in which to customize the fit of a reflective dog vest. While the vast majority of these vests offer some degree of adjustability, not all do. If you think an adjustable fit might benefit your dog, steer clear of zippered varieties and look for vests with buckles or hook-and-loop fasteners instead.

Increased visibility

As we've already mentioned, some reflective dog vests come fitted with LEDs to help improve visibility. Unlike reflective fabric, LEDs require no external light sources and remain visible even in complete darkness. It's worth noting, however, that most LED dog vests cannot be washed and can be difficult to keep clean. These vests usually also need to be charged regularly. If you don't think an LED vest will work for you and your dog, bright colors and extra reflective strips and patches can boost visibility as well.

For increased visibility at night, consider pairing the reflective dog vest with an LED collar and leash.



Reflective collar: Max and Neo MAX Reflective Collar
A reflective collar is an easy and affordable way to increase your dog's visibility even when it isn't wearing a reflective vest.

LED collar: Illumiseen LED Dog Collar
If you'd rather not deal with the hassle of trying to keep an LED vest clean, an LED dog collar is a great alternative. These collars give visibility a major boost and can be used with or without a reflective vest.

Treat pouch: PetSafe Sport Treat Pouch
A treat pouch is a convenient, hands-free way to tote your dog's treats on those longer-than-average walks and many also come with nifty storage compartments for essentials like keys, phone, and waste bags.

Waste bags: Earth Rated Dog Poop Bags
Every responsible dog owner recognizes the importance of promptly picking up those doggy deposits using sturdy, leakproof waste bags.

Reflective dog vest prices

Inexpensive: Lightweight reflective dog vests are generally quite affordable, and you can find some very decent options priced between $10 and $15. Reflective dog vests in this price range usually offer some level of water resistance and most come with adjustable hook-and-loop fasteners.

Mid-range: Reflective dog vests that cost between $15 and $20 are usually lightweight models designed for warmer weather. However, most mid-range vests are made from sturdy fabric and many have robust buckle-and-clasp fasteners rather than hook-and-loop closures.

Expensive: If you're looking for a cozy reflective dog vest for winter or extra features like superior water resistance or LEDs, you'll likely be looking at price tags that range from around $20 to $50.

For Your Safety
If you regularly walk your dog in low-light conditions, don't forget to consider your safety as well. Wear bright or reflective clothing, carry a flashlight, bring your phone in case of an emergency, and try to remain aware of your surroundings at all times.


  • Make yourself more visible too. You're likely to encounter at least one or two crosswalks while walking your dog, and even if you don't, driveways can also be hazardous. Wear bright clothing to make yourself easier to spot or invest in some reflective gear for yourself as well.
  • Carry a flashlight or wear a headlamp. With a flashlight or headlamp, you'll be able to spot potholes, obstacles, other dogs, and people well ahead of time. Having a light source on hand is also helpful for finding treats, picking up poop, and locating dropped items.
  • Check the fasteners before heading out. Make sure all the fasteners on the vest are well secured before you leave home so you don't get stuck making last-minute adjustments in the dark.
  • Never attach a leash to your dog's vest. A few reflective dog vests have fabric loops that are meant for lightweight items like waste bags. At best, mistaking one of these for a leash attachment will result in your dog's vest being pulled off-center. A far more frightening reality is that the loop could tear off, leaving your dog free to dash after irresistible nocturnal creatures like raccoons or possums.
If your dog loves diving through the underbrush or can't resist a poke around in the bushes, a reflective dog vest can provide some light protection from scratches, burrs, ticks, and poison oak.


Q. What should I do if my dog doesn't want to wear a reflective vest?

A. If your dog isn't accustomed to wearing a harness, jacket, or vest, it might be a bit nervous about trying out a reflective dog vest for the first time. Try to gain your dog’s trust and boost its confidence by taking things slowly. Before you bring the vest home, hold it against your body for a few minutes to get your scent on it. At home, hang the vest in a place where your dog can see it and sniff it. Once it’s more familiar with the vest, try putting it on your dog for short stretches while you're at home and reward your dog with a treat after each session. If this fails and your dog still refuses to wear the vest, an LED collar is probably your next best bet.

Q. Will a reflective dog vest fit a dog with short legs?

A. Yes, provided you choose the correct size. Dog vests come in sizes to fit all breeds and body shapes. However, if your dog has particularly short legs and you're concerned about fabric trailing on the ground, a model with an adjustable waist/chest strap will allow you to cinch the flanks for a better fit.

Q. Can I iron a reflective dog vest?

A. No, ironing your dog's vest will damage the reflective material and could destroy any waterproof coating as well. If your dog's reflective vest is looking a bit wrinkly after washing, a much safer alternative is to put it in the dryer on low for a few minutes.

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