Best Car Seats for Dogs and Why You Need One

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Here are some of the best car seats for dogs in 2021, and why you might want one for your vehicle.

Near or far, our cars take us and those we love on plenty of exciting trips. If you’re the type to bring your furriest family members along, consider setting them up with one of these car seats for dogs.

Many pet owners consider their dogs to be a (very loved) member of the family. They often have their own spot on the couch, at the foot of the bed, and sometimes, even in our cars.

Whether your pup goes everywhere with you or just occasionally joins in on a road trip, buying a car seat for your dog can be a great way to let them travel in style and comfort. These seats not only protect your vehicle but also give you peace of mind that your furry friend is as safe as possible on the road.

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Why Your Dog Needs a Car Seat

Before we dive into our top dog car seat picks, let’s talk about why dog owners would buy one in the first place.

It can help keep your dog safe. Traveling with your pup can be fun for all. If you were to brake hard or even get in a car accident, you’d have your car’s seat belts and precisely-placed airbags to keep you safe. Unfortunately, your dog won’t have the same protection.

With a dog car seat, you can confine Fido to a specific seat or area of your car. You can choose a bucket-style seat that keeps them contained in a hard braking situation, or a harness that can hold them in during an accident. While these might not be as secure as your own seatbelt, it can help ensure that your furry friend is as safe as possible on the road.

It keeps you safe. According to the CDC, more than 400,000 people were injured in accidents in 2018 as the result of a distracted driver. Having an unrestrained or uncontained dog in your car can easily result in one of these dangerous distractions, whether your dog tries to jump out of an open window or crawl around on the floorboards.

Utilizing a car seat for your dog can help keep them in one place and ensure that you’re able to stay focused on the road.

It protects your car. Whether you have cloth or leather seats in your car, your dog’s nails can cause serious damage if they are wandering around. By keeping them in one place — or even using a contained dog seat — you can protect your vehicle’s interior (and its resale value!).

It makes car rides more enjoyable for your pup. Whether you have a 150-pound Anatolian Shepherd or an 8-pound Bichon Frise, your dog probably enjoys being in the car with its human(s). With a dog car seat or harness, you can give your dog a safe space, allow them to roam around, and even crack open the window without fearing for its safety. This makes road trips more enjoyable for them and you!

It limits the mess in your vehicle. Dog hair. Drool. Mud. Vomit. Or worse.

As much as we love our pets, none of us enjoys cleaning up the mess that they can leave in our vehicles. By using a dog car seat, you can ensure that any potential messes are limited. You can use a harness to keep your dog in a cargo area that has all-weather floor mats, or you can put your pooch with a sensitive stomach in their own bed carrier, where any possible mess is easy to clean out.

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What Is the Best Kind of Car Seat for a Dog?

So, which dog car seat is the best? The answer really depends on your dog, your vehicle, and your on-the-road goals.

There are a few types of dog car seats to choose from. These include:

  • Harnesses
  • Hammocks
  • Open beds
  • Safety seats
  • Closed beds
  • Kennels

A harness secures your dog to the vehicle, similar to (human) seat belts. This keeps them safer in an accident and confines them to a particular spot in your car, limiting mess and distraction. Harnesses can be standalone products or combined with a padded car seat or bed.

Dog hammocks keep your seats clean and your dog contained. Depending on the style, they may also provide added protection from sudden braking or minor accidents.

Dog bed car seats give your pup a comfy and secure place to lie down while also keeping them safe. These beds can be open or closed, depending on how confined you want your dog to be.

Dog car safety seats are usually padded and may include a harness of some kind. These give your dog somewhere to lie down or sit, while also keeping your pup secure.

A car kennel has a bigger footprint in your vehicle. If you have the space for one of these (usually hard-sided) containers, though, it can give your pup a safe place to sleep and relax during the drive. Hard-side kennels protect your dog from things like shifting luggage while on the road, but may or may not include harness options.

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Best Dog Car Seats

Here are some of our favorite car seats for dogs, based on factors such as price, safety, durability, ease of installation, sizing, and even ease of cleaning.

Best for safety

The safest dog car seat option is a harness, which keeps your pup secured to the vehicle in case of an accident. One of the top-rated dog car harnesses available is the Sleepypod Clickit Terrain, according to the Center for Pet Safety.

This harness comes in sizes Small through XL and can accommodate dogs from 18lbs to 110lbs. It also comes in six different colors, and prices range from $94 to $104.

A harness may not be the best option for long road trips, as it can be difficult for dogs to lie down while secured. For shorter trips, though, or to keep your pup as safe as possible, it can be a top pick.

Dog in a Clickit Terrain car seat | Best Car Seats for Dogs 2021Photo Credit: Dog Car Seat Company

Best for small dogs

Most smaller dogs want to feel safe and secure while also getting a good view of the drive. With a dog booster seat, like the K&H Bucket Booster Pet Seat, you can accomplish both, whether your pooch is in the back or front seat.

This seat gives your dog (or dogs) an elevated view out the window while remaining secured to your vehicle via the seatbelt strap. It’s easy to install, includes a comfy fleece liner, and has two tether clips that can keep your pup(s) restrained. The K&H Booster seat comes in two sizes, and will run you $80 or $94 at Chewy.com.

French Bulldog in a bucket booster car seat | Best Car Seats for Dogs 2021Photo Credit: Chewy.com

Best for medium dogs

If you want to give your dog a semi-enclosed space while on the road, consider a basket-style car seat like the Petsafe Happy Ride Quilted Booster. This seat, which is priced at $42 or $49 on Chewy.com, comes in Large and XL sizes. It features a deep bucket to keep your pup contained while also offering an elevated vantage point.

The seat attaches to your vehicle with a headrest strap and seat belt loop; the added stability can help reduce car sickness for sensitive dogs. It also includes a tether (adjustable strap) to keep your pup from jumping out.

Dog in a Happy Ride Quilted Booster Car Seat | Best Car Seats for Dogs 2021Photo Credit: Chewy.com

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Best for large dogs

Need lots of space for a larger dog? Consider a solution like the Pawple Waterproof Cargo Cover, which runs just $29. This padded, quilted cover can go over your back bench back seat or a cargo area, and provides a nonslip and water-resistant surface for any situation.

This machine washable cover protects your vehicle from dirt, mud, hair, water, and even scratches, keeping it clean and also helping to protect its value (a big bonus if you ever plan to sell or even refinance it!). And if the cover gets dirty or wet, you can just wipe it off or pop it in the washing machine.

Large Golden Lab in a back hatch car seat cover | Best Car Seats for Dogs 2021Photo Credit: Chewy.com

Best for animals that like to move around

If your small dog (or even cat) likes to move around a bit in the car — but you still want to keep them safe and contained — consider a dog run-style kennel like the SP Dog & Cat Car Seat Crate. This includes both seatbelt loops and headrest straps to keep the kennel in place, while also offering room to move and high visibility for your pet.

This kennel does not include a harness and has not been crash test rated. It will run you $75 at Chewy.com.

Two cats in a SP Dog & Cat Car Seat Crate | Best Car Seats for Dogs 2021Photo Credit: Chewy.com

Best for a comfy ride

If you’re looking for a solution that gives your dog a comfortable, dedicated place to rest and also protects your vehicle, the PetSafe Happy Ride Car Seat is worth a look. It comes in small or large sizes, which can cover either one seat or an entire bench, with a price tag of $49 to $54.

This open dog bed covers all sides of your vehicle’s upholstery while also providing a padded bed for your pup to sleep in. It does not have an included harness and doesn’t offer much in the way of accident safety, however.

Dog laying in a PetSafe Happy Ride Car Seat | Best Car Seats for Dogs 2021Photo Credit: Chewy.com

Car Seats Keep Dogs Safe and Happy

Buying a pet car seat for your doggy can give them a safe, comfortable spot for future trips around town or across the country. Whether you spare no expense for your furry family members, or recently refinanced your car and have some extra cash to spend, these top dog car seat covers offer affordable options for pets of any size.

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About The Author


Stephanie Colestock

Stephanie Colestock is a DC-based personal finance writer with an expert focus on credit and lending. With over ten years of industry experience, she is a regular contributor on sites such as Credit Karma, The Balance, Quicken Loans, Dough Roller, Finance Buzz, and more. She enjoys teaching people how to optimize their finances and save themselves money in the process.


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