Written By Car Bibles Staff
Published Sep. 19, 2018

For dog lovers everywhere, our canine companions are truly members of the family. That’s why we love taking them on the road with us. But whether your four-legged companion is in for a long drive or just a short trip across town, they’re subject to the same dangers on the road that people are — and they need to be made as comfortable as possible, too. Additionally, many states legally require dogs to be restrained within a moving vehicle. 

That’s why a proper car seat is essential for any dog parent. They keep your dog in a secure place, can prevent them from becoming overstimulated while traveling, and can help protect them in the event of a crash. In this article, we’ll look at some of the very best options for canine car seats, and help you make an informed decision that can keep your dog safe for years to come. We’ll be looking specifically at booster seats — which keep dogs elevated, in place and secured down, almost like a car seat for children — but you may also want to consider in-car harnesses, car carriers, and other options as well.

The Best Dog Car Seats

This bucket-style booster pet seat allows your dog to have an elevated view so they can see the outside world pass them by during the journey. Does your dog care about this? It’s hard to say, but we can assume most pooches would rather have something nice to look at on the road, just like you would. It’s even designed to look like a comfy armchair for them, so they’re probably having a better time than you are. This chair, which boasts a fabric exterior and plush quilted fleece interior, fits easily onto both the front and back seats so you can place your pup wherever you’d like. Available in two sizes, the small is designed for small dogs and the large can accommodate two small pets or one medium-sized breed dog. It’s received rave reviews from buyers — they say that as long as you buy the right size, your dog has plenty of space to lie down and won’t move around while you’re driving. It currently has a five-star rating based on more than 9,000 owner reviews.

Specifications
  • Brand K&H
  • Model 100213298
  • Weight 3.65 pounds
PROS

Two sizes available

Offers an elevated view

Plush quilted fleece interior

CONS

Strap buckles tend to break

Many users found it unsafe

It’s only meant for the little ones, dogs under 11 pounds — who, let’s face it, may be more likely to be in regular car trips than our bigger four-legged friends — but HIPPIH’s waterproof, easily cleanable booster seat is beloved by owners for its versatility and value. With a frame supported by tough PVC bars to prevent collapsing, an anti-slip mat, and pockets to hold your dog’s gear, it doesn’t skimp on features for its low price, either.

To date, this seat has a 73 percent five-star rating across more than 1,700 reviews from happy owners. They say it’s great for keeping small breeds like chihuahuas in place during rides, feels sturdy overall, and elicits few complaints from the pooches themselves. Some owners did also complain of an unusual plastic smell, however.

Specifications
  • Brand HIPPIH
  • Model N/A
  • Weight 2.2 pounds
PROS

Waterproof and easy to clean

Tough PVC frame

Easy to install

CONS

Only for dogs under 11 pounds

Unusual plastic smell

Formerly known as the “Solvit” brand, PetSafe’s Happy Ride Jumbo Booster Seat is a winner for owners of dogs up to 30 pounds in size. It’s billed as being easy to assemble, easy to install, and easy to clean. And with nine inches of elevation, it gives your pup the view of the road that he or she craves. It also has a washable cover in the event of accidents or spills.

This popular pet seat currently boasts a 78 percent five-star rating across more than 3,000 reviews, so it’s safe to say that owners are happy with their investment. Owners have praised the seat’s sturdiness, installation ease and comfort, but some have criticized the quality of the pillow inside and have said that it moves around too much on the car seat. Note that PetSafe also recommends the use of a harness for extra safety, which is sold separately.

Specifications
  • Brand PetSafe
  • Model 62350
  • Weight 7 pounds
PROS

Holds dogs up to 30 pounds

Washable cover

Easy to install

CONS

Poor quality of pillow

Seat moves around too much

Best For Double-Dog Duty

Your dog — or maybe two if they’re smaller pups — are meant to feel right at home in the cushy Petsfit Dog Car Seat. While a somewhat more expensive option than others, it’s also a bit bigger and includes more premium options. It’s got a washable double-sided cushion (cloth for summer, plush for winter), pockets for gear, and a tough outside. It doubles as a standalone dog bed as well.

Across more than 1,700 owner reviews, this dog seat has a strong 4.5 rating, so owners are clearly happy with its performance. If you don’t have two little dogs, owners say it’s great for longer, more medium-sized dogs to ride comfortably, and they also praised the seat’s construction quality in general. Other owners criticized the quality of the straps and connectors, however, and say that means it doesn’t connect as securely to the seat as they would’ve liked.

Specifications
  • Brand Petsfit
  • Model ZFC1106L
  • Weight 9.92 pounds
PROS

Durable seat construction

Washable cover

Includes pockets for gear

CONS

Poor quality of straps

Doesn’t connect securely to seat

Pet Gear’s View 360 mesh carrier is an interesting option because it’s great for cats as well (though not together with your dog, obviously — that would probably end very poorly) and it makes it super easy to transport a pet from the car to the vet’s office or other places. It’s an all-in-one solution, designed for car transportation and hand carrying to your next destination. This reasonably priced option has a mesh lining to allow for visibility, but also has an optional dome-like top covering and carrying handle. Note that that top covering may not be ideal for dogs with anxiety, or who can’t stand being in something like an airline bag. It also comes in several fun color options.

With more than 400 user reviews, it has a 4.5 star rating, so owners seem pretty happy with it, no matter what pets they’re moving around. Buyers say it’s a visually appealing option that’s a bit tricky to install, but is secure once in place and feels like a quality piece of kit. They also praised the handle and ease for carrying.

Specifications
  • Brand ‎Pet Gear
  • Model AM1140NZSP
  • Weight 9.5 pounds
PROS

Easy to transport your dog

Comes with carrying handle

Mesh lining for visibility

CONS

Tricky to install

May not be good for dogs with anxiety issues

BLOBLO’s Dog Car Seat Pet Booster Seat is a highly rated option, especially for dogs who insist on being pampered at all times. (You know the kind. We certainly do.) This cushy Oxford cloth seat has extra padding over many other options and is designed to keep your pooch extra comfortable on long trips. With an adjustable buckle design, it’s easy to install and meant for many different types of cars. It comes in a variety of fun colors, too.

With a 4.5-star rating — and 85 percent of those are five-star grades — after more than 2,100 reviews, owners clearly love this seat for many reasons. They say dogs love the seat and are happy to take a relaxing nap while you handle all the driving, and that installation is simple and secure. A few owners say it’s not ideal for dogs bigger than 20 pounds in size, and a small handful complain the straps break easily. Overall, it seems like a good option, and you may even be jealous of your dog when you’re stuck behind the wheel.

Specifications
  • Brand BLOBLO
  • Model N/A
  • Weight 5.16 pounds
PROS

Extra padding for comfort

Easy to install

Fun colors

CONS

Straps break easily

Not for dogs over 20 pounds

How We Selected the Products

We reviewed hundreds of available products and combed through the most consistently well-rated ones, and combined that with both our automotive technology expertise and our own experience as dog owners. As dog lovers ourselves, and folks who regularly take our four-legged friends on road trips, we’re committed to recommending high-quality options that won’t over-promise on protection in the event of a crash. We prioritized quality, owner satisfaction, value, and overall safety. Driving with your pet in the car can be an inherently risky activity, so we took a realistic approach to cutting down on distractions and issues for you as a driver and your passenger, as well as what will keep your dog comfortable and chill on the road. 

Best Dog Car Seat Buying Guide & FAQ

What to Look for When Buying a Dog Car Seat

You might be tempted to select the most stylish booster seat out there that perfectly matches your brand new car, but take caution – your pet’s comfort and safety should be the first thing on your mind.

Installation

Before purchasing your new pet car seat, you need to make sure it’s suitable for use in your car. There are many different kinds of booster seats out there. Some will use the car’s seat belt system, some will hang over the headrest, and some will even attach to the car’s console. Think about the amount of space, features, and passengers your car has when selecting the right booster seat. Check user reviews to see if a certain type of vehicle or car seat may or may not work with the booster you have in mind.

Protection

It is very important to note that while extra padding can’t hurt, dog car seats aren’t tested, rated or government-certified for crash protection the way that automobiles are. They generally also aren’t designed for that the way child safety seats are. It’s always ideal to keep your dog secure in the unfortunate event of a crash, of course, but don’t be fooled by promises of total safety when you buy a booster seat. It can’t hurt to buy something with at least two inches of padding or some other form of a sturdy, firm protective layer.

Size Limitations

Most car seats will state their maximum weight threshold, so be sure to check this before you order your Labrador one that’s designed for a dachshund. If you’re shopping online, a good idea is to filter down the search within your dog’s weight range, so you don’t accidentally get caught out. And if you go looking in the store and get confused, ask an assistant for their advice, or bring your pet along. Be mindful that if you have a puppy, they won’t stay puppy size forever, and you’ll need to purchase a booster seat they can grow into.

Keeping it Clean

Anyone who owns dogs knows that they can get pretty gross when they want to. That’s why it’s best to choose a booster seat made from a material that is easily wiped clean and bite-proof. Or better yet, why not opt for a pet seat that has removable components that can be cleaned separately? Most of the options on our list are machine-washable, but be sure to double-check.

Different Types of Dog Car Seats

There are many different kinds of pet car seats out there, each with its own benefits. 

Bucket Style Dog Car Seat

Arguably one of the most popular kinds of booster seats for dogs on the market, this kind of car seat is named due to its bucket-like shape. The dog is placed in and strapped using a tether that often clips to their harness. It allows them to sit in an elevated position, giving them the perfect vantage point to look out of the window.

Bed Dog Car Seat

This booster seat is best for long journeys, as it allows your pooch to get comfy. With this option, you get two products in one as it can also double up as a bed for the house. Perfect for dogs with a nervous disposition, it won’t create a large disconnect between their familiar home and the car.

Why Use a Dog Car Seat or Dog Booster Seat?

According to AAA, a third of all drivers have admitted that they are distracted by their pets while driving. This can lead to serious accidents, injuries, and possibly even death. In fact, Melanie Monteiro, author of The Safe Dog Handbook: A Complete Guide to Protecting Your Pooch Indoors & Out, writes:  “In the event of a crash at 50 miles per hour, a 10-pound, unrestrained dog generates 500 pounds of projectile force. In a 30 mph crash, an 80-pound dog would become a 2,400-pound flying projectile.” So while a car booster seat won’t be the be-all, end-all for crash protection, keeping your dog secure if things go wrong is something you absolutely must do. 

We all love our dogs, but it’s important that the road has our undivided attention when we are in our cars. A dog booster seat keeps not only our beloved dogs safe and sound, but also prevents us from becoming distracted, and therefore significantly reduces the chances of accidents occurring.

How to Correctly Use a Dog Car Booster Seat

The first step to making sure you are using your booster seat correctly is to always select the correct size for your dog. If you are not sure of your dog’s weight, visit your vet and get them on the scales. It’s also crucial to select one that is suitable for your car, take a look at the different options below to see which will work best for you.

Best Dog Car Seat FAQ:

Q: What is a dog booster seat?

A dog booster seat is a specially engineered chair designed to keep dogs secure while traveling in the car. They usually include a seatbelt-like tether to secure them and provide extra padding for comfort and a minimal degree of crash protection.

Q: How do dog car seats work?

Just like humans need to sit in our seats and wear a seatbelt, so must our pets. Dog car seats work very similarly to the way our own ones do – they protect our precious pet’s from serious injury if the worst should happen. Most pet booster seats are similar to buckets or beds and usually have a tether that then attaches to their harness, acting like a seatbelt.

Q: How safe are dog car seats?

Provided you do your research and install them properly, car seats for your dog should be perfectly safe, but remember that they aren’t designed or rated to provide the same levels of safety protection as the systems in your vehicle. A combination of a chest harness and a dog booster seat may be your best bet for safety. As the New York Times reports: “Lindsey Wolko, founder of the nonprofit Center for Pet Safety, a consumer advocacy group, sorts essential safety gear into two categories: distraction prevention, which keeps the dog out of the front seat, and crash protection, designed to provide the best chance to avoid injuries. The center tests and certifies harnesses, carriers and crates.”

Q: How do I install a dog car seat?

This really depends on the kind of dog car seat you decide upon. Some will use the car’s headrest, whereas others will simply make use of the existing seatbelts.
Headrest Booster Seats are incredibly easy to install, they simply wrap around the headrest! They will also include straps that clip around the entire chair for extra security. These are often adjustable, so your pup can be given a good view out of the window.
Seat Belt Booster Seat are considered one of the safest ways of securing your pet into the car by making use of the seat belts. The seat belts simply loop through the seat and through a strap which will then clip to your pet’s harness, ensuring they are safely strapped in.

About the Author

Patrick George is Editorial Director over Recurrent Ventures’ automotive and military publications. He oversees The Drive, Car Bibles, The War Zone and Task & Purpose. Previously Editor-in-Chief of the car website Jalopnik, he’s a longtime reporter and editor and a lifelong car enthusiast and amateur mechanic. He’s based in upstate New York.

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