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Just as people need seatbelts, dogs deserve to ride safely too. Dr. Jamie Richardson of Small Door Veterinary says the most important element to keeping your dog safe is ensuring your dog is “secure and as immobile as possible” to avoid them becoming a projectile if an accident were to occur.
As you shop for a seat or car harness, be sure to check that it’s the right size and weight capacity for your dog. It’s also a good idea to look for products that are independently tested and certified.
Below, you’ll find the best dog car seats, according to our research and Dr. Richardson.
Best Overall: Sleepypod Clickit Sport Dog Safety Harness
Dimensions: 13.78 x 12.99 x 1.57-inches | Weight: Not listed | Material: Nylon | Type: Harness | Breed Size: Large
Designed to distribute pressure and reduce force if in an accident
Three points of contact secure your dog's torso
Comfortable for long-term wear
Doubles as a walking harness
Not ideal for sighthounds
According to Veterinary Jamie Richardson proper car restraint is essential to protecting your dog every time they ride in the car. Dr. Richardson recommends the Sleepypod Clickit Sport Dog Safety Harness for small, medium, and large dogs. This harness system works with your car’s seatbelt and is designed to distribute pressure and reduce force if you’re in an accident. Three points of contact secure your dog’s torso from all directions and reduce movement if you come to a sudden stop while driving.
Made from ballistic nylon, it is comfortable for even long-term wear and can double as a walking harness after your car ride is over. It comes in four sizes and four colors, so you can find the right fit for your dog. The Sleepypod Clickit Sport is one of the only harnesses that has been crash tested and meets the Center for Pet Safety's standards. According to Dr. Richardson, it may not be ideal for sighthounds (such as greyhounds), but it’s a great all-around harness to protect your pup in the car.
Best for Small Dogs: Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed
Dimensions: 17 x 17 x 13-inches | Weight: 5.51 pounds | Material: Nylon | Type: Bed | Breed Size: Medium
Works as a carrier, bed, and car seat
Great for dogs up to 15 pounds
Made from luggage-grade nylon and polyester
More expensive than other options
The Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed is a great choice for smaller dogs, and while it’s a bit pricier than some other options on this list, it’s crash-tested and works as a carrier, a bed, and a car seat all at once. It’s ideal for placing in the backseat, and Dr. Richardson loves this pick for dogs up to 15 pounds.
Made from luggage-grade nylon and polyester, it includes a padded shoulder strap for carrying and a mesh dome top to allow air to flow in and out while your pet is inside. The water-resistant liner is easy to clean, and this pet bed can be used in both the car and on a plane. To secure during car rides, you can wrap a seat belt around the base and secure the belt through the bed’s handle. The medium size measures 17 x 17 x 13 inches, and weighs just over 5 pounds.
Best For Large Dogs: A4Pet Pet Car Seat
Dimensions: 29 x 16 x 14-inches | Weight: 9.6 pounds | Material: Fleece | Type: Car booster | Breed Size: Large
Large enough for labrador-sized pups
Elevates your dog 6.5 inches to look out the window
Double-sided for winter and summer use
Can double as a dog bed at home
May be too big for smaller dogs
According to Dr. Richardson, every dog car seat should secure your pup with a harness or a strap to avoid movement while traveling. The A4Pet Pet Car Seat is large enough for labrador-sized pups and measures 29 x 16 x 14 inches. It elevates your dog 6.5 inches above the car seat so he or she can look out of the window while you’re driving. It is two-sided, with cozy fleece for warmth in the winter and Oxford Fabric for cooling in the summer. A security leash keeps your pet in place while driving, and the fold-down design allows for storage when it's not in use.
Best Booster Seat: Pet Gear Large Car Booster
Dimensions: 22 x 17 x 11.5-inches | Weight: Not listed | Material: Suede | Type: Car booster | Breed Size: Small and medium
Seat attaches via the car seatbelt
Secure and comfortable
Gives small dogs a boost to see out the window
Smaller than expected
When your dog can’t see out of the window, he or she may be tempted to jump around while you’re driving—which is distracting for you, and can be dangerous for them. The Pet Gear Large Car Booster gives your small or medium dog the boost they need to look outside while you’re driving and keeps them from trying to ride up front with you. The seat attaches to your car via the seatbelt, so it won’t move in place. It also features a tether that can be easily attached to a harness to keep your pet secure in the booster. The booster measures 22 x 17 x 11.5 inches and is ideal for dogs weighing up to 30 pounds.
Owners love that this booster is secure and comfortable, but some do mention that it feels a lot smaller than might be expected. Dr. Richardson recommends booster and car seats to be placed in the backseat to avoid airbag damage, were an accident to occur.
Best for Trunks: Gunner Kennels G1 Large Crate
Dimensions: 40.25 x 28 x 33.25-inches | Weight: Not listed | Material: Aluminum | Type: Kennel | Breed Size: Small and medium
Can withstand 4,000 pounds of force
Great for traveling
In-line wheels for easy transportation
Though expensive, the Gunner Kennel is one of the safest options for your pet, according to Dr. Richardson. This double-wall, rotomolded dog crate has been tested to withstand over 4,000 pounds of force and carries a lifetime warranty. It’s ideal for traveling with your large dog in the trunk. You can rest assured this crate is escape-proof and completely secure against force. It has in-line wheels for easy transportation to the car, and the large size measures 40.25 x 28 x 33.25 inches.
Though this crate is pricey, it’s by far the most secure and strongest option if you're going on long car rides. It gets a 5-star crash test rating from the Center for Pet Safety.
Best for Multiple Dogs: Vailge Waterproof Dog Car Seat Cover
Dimensions: 60 x 56 x 0.1-inches | Weight: 3.2 pounds | Material: Oxford | Type: Car seat cover | Breed Size: Large
Hammock covers your entire back seat
Keeps pets from roaming while you're driving
Protects your car from mud and dirt
Stitching isn't the most secure
The best place for your dog is in the back seat, away from the airbag. The Vailge Waterproof Dog Car Seat Cover is ideal for multiple dogs, especially if you are traveling often. This car seat hammock covers your entire back seat and not only protects your car from mud and dirt, but also keeps your pet from roaming around while you’re driving.
Two side flaps cover the sides of your car seat and make it easier for your pet to get in and out of the car. This hammock features velcro openings for your car’s seatbelts to allow you to secure your pet’s harness and keep him safe while you’re driving. The hammock measures 60 x 56 inches, and is ideal for a car or smaller SUV.
If your pet has a history of car sickness or tends to shed a lot, this hammock is also great for protecting your car seats from damage. We love that it is non-slip and stays in place while in use.
Best Safety Strap: Mighty Paw Dog Vehicle Safety Belt
Dimensions: 26 x 1 x 0.1-inches | Weight: Not listed | Material: Nylon | Type: Safety belt | Breed Size: All
Keeps your dog protected in an accident
Works with other pet car seats on this list
Can adjust from 16 to 26 inches
Latch bar is tricky to get on
If your pet has a history of running around while you’re driving, you’ll love the Mighty Paw Dog Vehicle Safety Belt. This safety belt keeps your dog protected should an accident occur, and works with other pet car seats on our list.
This belt is designed to attach directly to the LATCH system in the crease of your backseat (as opposed to the seatbelt) to avoid the risk of your pet accidentally releasing the belt while the car is in motion. It can adjust from 16 to 26 inches for an accurate fit, and a swivel-free attachment allows your dog to rotate without getting tangled.
Best for Comfort: PupSaver Crash-Tested Car Safety Seat
Dimensions: 24 x 12 x 18-inches | Weight: 7 pounds | Material: Nylon | Type: Car seat | Breed Size: All
Designed to protect your dog from injury in a crash
Doubles as a pet bed while traveling
Comfortable and secure for dogs in a moving car
Great for extra-small and small dogs
The PupSaver Safety Seat is not only crash-tested and designed to protect your dog from injury, but it is also comfortable for pups—especially those with anxiety around confinement. This rear-facing car seat is designed to catch your dog upon impact and act as a barrier against surfaces if an accident occurs. It’s ideal for dogs weighing up to 30 pounds and comes with five plastic clips to keep the PupSaver in place. It should be placed in the back seat, and doubles as a pet bed during travel. The seat measures 24 x 12 x 18 inches and weighs just over 7 pounds.
The PupSaver is like an oversized baseball mitt that's not only comfortable for dogs, but also keeps them secure when the car is moving. This safety seat is great for extra-small and small dogs, and is a good choice if your dog doesn’t like being crated in the car.
Our best overall pick is the Sleepypod ClickIt Sport Crash-Tested Car Safety Dog Harness (view at Amazon), which has three points of contact to secure your pup's torso. If you're looking for an option for multiple dogs, check out the Vailge Waterproof Dog Car Seat Cover (view at Amazon). Large enough to cover your entire back seat, it effectively protects your car from mud and dirt.
What to Look for in Dog Car Seats
Although many dog seat and harness manufacturers claim their products are “crash tested,” there’s no single industry standards for pet car restraints. It’s best to look for crash testing that’s been conducted by third-party organizations, like the Center for Pet Safety.
Be sure to check the weight and size guidelines of the doggy car seat, to ensure it will fit your pet securely and comfortably. If a harness or seat is too big for you dog, he or she may be able to wriggle out during the ride, creating a distracting and dangerous situation.
Why Trust The Spruce Pets?
This roundup was edited by Ashley Knierim, who loves traveling with her two dogs and uses the Vailge Waterproof Dog Car Seat Cover (our pick for Best for Multiple Dogs) to keep them safe whenever they go on adventures together.
For this list, Ashley interviewed Dr. Jamie Richardson of Small Door Veterinary for background on the dog car seats she likes, what to look for in a car seat for your dog, and why dog car seats are important to own.