Dog lovers know this to be true: that dogs are people too. They are a part of the family. They share beds. They share adventures. They share travel and car rides. So why shouldn’t they be as safe as humans when riding in a car? We wouldn’t think of driving in a car without a restraint, nor restrain our children, so it naturally follows that dog parents want to make sure their dogs are restrained as well.
The quintessential image of a dog riding with its head leaning out of a car window while the air flows through his ears may be adorable, but it is not safe, especially if the driver has to come to a sudden stop and/or if there is an accident. Fortunately, there are a number of dog car seats on the market that come in an array of colors, sizes and functions.
We’ve reviewed dozens of the most highly rated dog car/booster seats for 2019 to help alleviate the guesswork for you. We considered function, safety, price, ease of installation as our top criteria.
Hands down, the top-rated dog booster seat is the K&H Pet Products Bucket Booster Pet Seat. With an average rating of 4.8, almost 2000 Amazon users gave this product tops marks.
The 5 Top-Rated Dog Car Seats
|Best Overall||K&H Pet Products Bucket Booster Pet Seat||4.8|
|Runner Up||Kurgo Skybox Booster Seat for Dogs||4.5|
|Best Budget Buy||Solvit PetSafe Tagalong Pet Booster Seat||4.2|
|Best For Small Dogs||Devoted Doggy Deluxe Dog Booster Car Seat||4.6|
|Best Console||Snoozer Console Pet Car Seat||4.3|
Our Top Pick: K&H Pet Products Bucket Booster Pet Seat
The K&H Pet Products Bucket Booster Pet Seat is secured by running a seat belt through the bottom, along with two more straps that can be attached to the dog’s harness for more security.
The booster seat comes in two neutral colors—gray and brown—and can be used in a back or a front seat. Two sizes can accommodate either a large dog up to about 30 pounds or a small or even toy-sized dog. In fact, the large can even fit two small best buddies.
The majority of users reported that their dogs loved this fleecy car seat. The foam material makes it cushy for comfort-seeking dogs. And because of its elevation, dogs are able to get a ‘boost’ to see out the window while remaining comfortably secured by the car’s seat belt.
It wasn’t just the dogs that were happy. Pet parents loved the ease of installation and the fact that the zippered seat cushion was easily removable for washing. With safety uppermost in minds of dog parents, this car seat passed muster. One user even reported being in a car accident that resulted in the car being totaled, but that the dogs fastened in this car seat had not a scratch.
This seat is a bit on the pricier side, but its durability, ease of cleaning, comfort, and safety, makes it worth the investment.
K&H Pet Products Bucket Booster Pet Seat Key Features:
- Fits in front or back seat
- Includes one adjustable security leash
- Removable, washable cover
- Dog car seat elevates pet for better view
Our Runner-Up Pick: Kurgo Skybox Booster Seat for Dogs
Close to 1400 Amazon users award the Kurgo Skybox Booster Seat for Dogs an average of 4.5 stars, taking many factors into account, including the lifetime warranty.
For one thing, these dog booster seats come in an array of color options, from a denim-y blue to bright red and even an autumnal orange, all with a corduroy interior lining. Note that price varies depending on the color selected, ranging between under $50 to just under $100.
The booster seat hangs from the seat and has a zipper enclosure, which means it’s easy to remove the liner and pad for cleaning. The straps are easily adjustable: one tethers to the seat belt and the other is placed behind the seat.
Although geared toward smaller dogs, like the majority of dog car seats, this one says it holds dogs up to 30 pounds but is recommended for dogs closer to the 20- pound range.
Buyers said that it was easy to install and high enough for their dogs to see out the window. Other buzzwords consumers used were ‘cozy,’ ‘spacious,’ ‘comfortable,’ and ‘sturdy.’ The dogs stayed in place, even when drivers had to stop suddenly. This is a smart purchase for any travelin’ dog parent.
Kurgo Skybox Booster Seat for Dogs Key Features:
- Hangs from seat with seatbelt tether
- Zippered pockets for storage
- Quick installation 2-layer fabricated interior
- Waterproof exterior
- Removable washable liner and pad
Best Budget Pick: Solvit PetSafe Tagalong Pet Booster Seat
The Solvit PetSafe Tagalong Pet Booster Seat has got a lot going for it, not the least of which is price. This product rests at a very budget-friendly price point between $20.95-39.95, depending upon which of the three sizes you order. The three sizes accommodate dogs up to 10, 18 and 25 pounds, and depending on the size of the dog, even two smaller ones can share the space. The seat hangs from the headrest with adjustable straps.
The average rating by 1400 Amazon users was a respectable 4.2. Users liked that it could be installed both quickly and securely. One user waited three years to post a review to see how it held up over time, noting that he used it multiple times a week. The reviewer concluded that it absolutely stood the test of time, as it still worked and looked great.
The brown, neutral color will look good in most cars, the liner removes for washing, and there is a cushy, padded interior for comfort. Maybe the product name ‘tagalong’ throws out this clue, but the boosters seat can also double as a carrier.
And did we mention the price? It’s a good value, especially for its durability.
Solvit PetSafe Tagalong Pet Booster Seat Key Features:
- Adjustable straps
- Two safety leashes included
- Zippered storage pocket
- Extra padding in seat bottom
- Removable fleece liner
Best Console Dog Car Seat: Snoozer Console Pet Car Seat
Not quite back seat, not quite front, the Snoozer Console Pet Car Seat sits smack in the middle of the console area. The beauty of this product is that the dog can be close to you, which is important for some anxious dogs that like to be near their owners, but not be in the front seat.
Though Snoozer makes other console options, this one is the most value-priced, even though the Sherpa-lined interior gives it an air of elegance, sure to please the prickliest of pooches. Many dogs like to feel swaddled, and this car seat does the trick, while at the same time, giving him a lookout perch. The car seat comes in both small and ‘large’ varieties, but even the large variety only fits a dog up to twelve pounds. That makes sense, as a medium or large dog would be too big for the console placement anyway. This car seat would also work for puppies.
Over 1000 users gave this product a 4.3 rating. Some users had to try out both sizes to determine which was the better fit for their dog and car model. One purchaser reported traveling 4,000 miles with her dog in the console car seat. The majority of dogs loved the car seat and felt safe and cozy and snuggly.
Snoozer Console Pet Car Seat Key Features:
- Machine washable removable cover
- Straps for securing to seat base and console lid
- Included safety strap
- Comes in two sizes
Best Small Dog Car Seat:
Dogs up to 15 pounds ride in style in the Devoted Doggy Deluxe Dog Booster Car Seat . The product was given a whopping 4.6 stars by over 1300 users, and it’s easy to see why. The budget-friendly price is certainly one draw, as well as the sturdy, collapsible metal frame for easy storage. But the car seat has a few extras that separate it from the pack. For one thing, it boasts a side pocket for convenient storage of treats or other pet gear. Also, it stops the fur from flying: the comfy, fleecy seat collects dog hair in one spot. It is also pretty easy to remove the liner out and toss it in the washing machine.
Users appreciated how simple it is to use as well as the clip-on safety leash. A big selling point was the adjustable straps that fit most seats in most cars. The small dogs have room to sit or even lie down, and they also have a view out the window.
Many customers felt that the product was well constructed, sturdy, and high quality, and that their dogs had a lot of paw room.
Devoted Doggy Deluxe Dog Booster Car Seat Key Features:
- One adjustable strap that fits around the headrest to keep the dog booster seat safely anchored
- Adjustable leash to clip from inside the car seat to their collar
- Collapsible metal frame versus one made of cardboard
- Easy to install
Who Should Buy:
Consumers who frequently road trip with their dogs should consider purchasing a dog restraint, but dog car seats also are useful for people who only travel occasionally or travel short distances. After all, accidents can happen at any time.
When traveling with a dog in a car, the number one concern should be the safety of everyone in the car, from the driver to other passengers to the dog. Most products in this category are geared toward dogs under 25 pounds; dog that are lightweight are the most susceptible to being thrown and injured in a car accident, or even when the driver is forced to brake suddenly.
Owners of small and medium dogs under 25 pounds should certainly consider buying a car seat with restraints. This will ensure that the dog is comfortable riding in a cozy environment and won’t escape the instant the car door is opened.
Not many options exist for large dogs, though. Many owners of large dogs will buy hammocks instead, which are simply car seat covers that prevent dogs from slipping around the back seat but do not physically restrain the dog from moving around.
Important Features to Consider:
When buying a car seat for your dog, there are several points to consider:
- Safety. Note that the same safety standards that apply to baby car seats do not apply to dog car seats, but they should be as safe as humanly—and dogly—possible. The best way to gauge the safety of a product is to read impartial reviews and even log on to manufacturers’ websites to read in detail about how they themselves tested their products. There are also several watchdog groups that test pet car seats for safety. The safest seats will have at least a two-inch foam protection.
- Fit. The car seat is only safe if it fits both your vehicle and your dog. You can’t squeeze a 50-pound dog into a booster seat made for a 25-pound dog, no matter how you try to shove him in there. Measure and weigh your pet before making any purchases. And while most dog car seats fit most vehicles, some have more specific dimensions, such as console car seats.
- Comfort. This may go without saying, but of course all pet parents want their pet kids to be as comfortable as possible, especially if the pet will spend a lot of time in the car. Comfort and fit are closely connected; many car seats are made with comfortable foam, and some feature Sherpa-esque materials that ensure your pet is riding in soft luxury.
- Durability. Why spend a chunk of change on something that you’ll throw out soon after purchase? Dogs, especially young ones, are known destroyers of everything from shoes to furniture to their own beds. A dog that is restrained may find it more difficult to chew or paw at his or her safety enclosure, but they will find a way. And even if you have a calmer pooch, a durable car seat is one that will maintain its shape over time. A bonus is if the car seat is easy to clean and disinfect. Look to see if the fabric is machine washable or can at least be wiped down. even replaceable.
- Ease of Use. You do not want to be fumbling around with straps and belts and complicated doodads every time you want to secure your dog in the car seat. Of course, you may have a squiggly pooch on your hands, but ideally, the car seat is a once-and-done, easy to use piece of equipment. Sometimes, a car seat can double as an airline carrier, which is an extra perk if your dog has frequent flyer miles.
- Extras. Whether you want a plain, functional dog car seat or one that has all the bells and whistles is purely a matter of personal preference (and budget). However, some models come with auxiliary features that can make your life a little easier, such as side compartments for storage of treats and doggy pick-up bags.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a dog car seat and how does it work?
A dog car seat is utilized to keep your dog safe while he is a passenger in your car. Plus, a dog car seat protects you from distraction or from the possibility of a pup suddenly leaping into the lap of the driver.
The sheer number of options varies, but generally, a dog car seat is one that has a strap that attaches to your own car’s seatbelt system. Car seats can be hard or soft, or can be bucket-shaped. It should be large enough for your dog to move around a bit but secure enough that he or she won’t slip out of it.
Do dogs have to be restrained in cars by law?
Currently, only a minority of states has enacted laws requiring dogs to have some sort of restraint while driving in a car. Of those few states with such legislation, some of them merely require the dog to be restrained with either a harness or be placed in a crate. For dogs riding in an open truck, they must be in crates or otherwise must be secured to prevent them from falling out.
Many other states have proposed such laws but as of this date have not been passed into law.
Is it illegal to have a dog in the front seat of a car?
Distracted driving has a pretty broad definition and can mean any external factor that can take a drivers’ eyes or attention off the road. Certainly texting immediately comes to mind, but what about a dog that rides shotgun next to you?
Most states do not specifically prohibit a front-seat furry friend. Currently, Hawaii is the only state that legally bans dogs from sitting on the driver’s lap. In about six states, however, a driver can be ticketed if an up-front dog is distracting the driver.
That being said, it does not mean that it is a good idea. A sudden squirrel spotting could cause your dog to be in your lap in an instant, potentially causing you to lose control of the car. Perhaps the biggest deterrent for allowing a dog to ride in the front seat is this: If your airbag inflates and your dog is in the front seat, which could be deadly for him or her.
How long can a dog travel in a car?
The question “Who wants to go for a ride in the car?” often gets tails wagging, but other dogs experience anxiety or carsickness and do not enjoy the ride, even with the windows down and ears flapping in the wind.
How long a dog can travel in a car varies with each dog, but, just like their human counterparts, they should be granted frequent stops about every two hours to stretch their paws, have some food or drink, take a short walk, and use the ‘facilities.’ Puppies and older dogs may need more frequent stops. Dogs should never be left alone in a car, especially in the extreme hot or cold temperatures.
Before taking your pet on a long trip, gauge your dog’s ability to withstand car rides of various lengths by taking him or her on a few test drives. And if you buy a new car seat for your dog, don’t spring it on him for the first time on a long trip: let him sniff it and even try it out at home before he uses it in the car.
Other Dog Car Seats We Reviewed
We looked at 20 other car seats. Even though they didn’t make our top 5 best car seats, they’re the best of the rest. For your convenience, we’ve divided them into the following categories:
- Luxury/Top of the Line
- Small Dog
- All the Rest
Luxury/Top of the Line
Perhaps taking the win for the cutest name, this car seat by Pawcy has a white fleece cover for a cozy and easy ride. Or rido.
- The two-strap restraint system, when used with the harness provided, equalizes the pressure of a sudden stop
- Boosts pet to window level
- Holds two small dogs together
This can fit one medium dog or two smaller dogs and has a supple interior.
- Soft and comfortable for medium dogs up to 45 pounds
- Plush liner is removable and washable
- Side pockets can store small toys or treats
A houndstooth pattern perfectly suits any small hound in your life.
- Rear facing design
- Fits dogs up to 30 pounds
- All metal tether attachment system
This high-end car seat blends luxury with ergonomics.
- Luxury micro-suede cover
- Comfortable, durable foam form
- Safety strap secures pet to seat
Available in three sizes and in an array of colors, this option is for posh pooches only.
- Zipper removable micro-suede cover
- Pull out drawer for convenient storage
- Connection strap included for the seat belt to join the harness
A stylish, abstract design that fits smaller dogs and allows him to share the driver’s window view
- Elevates your pet to one area of the vehicle without restricting movement
- Collapsible for easy storage when not in use
- Removable padded waterproof insert
This blue and white striped design is nautical and perfect for small and medium pets.
- Clip-on safety leash
- Easy installation and foldable
This one comes with a little blanket to make a small dog feel nice and cozy.
- Clip-on safety leash
- Easy to assemble and store
- Front zipper pocket
The blue or gray interior is quilted for a soft place to land.
- Fits both the front and back seat
- Machine washable cover
- Comes with a security belt
Holding pups up to 25 pounds, this model has plenty of storage.
- Deluxe, waterproof material
- Two small pockets in front and two big pockets on the side for storge
- Can be folded and is portable
An Amazon’s Choice, the striped pattern made of Oxford cloth keeps pets comfortable
- Easy to install adjustable buckle design
- Can be installed in the front or rear seat
- Removable mat that is easy to clean
Good for pets up to 20 pounds, the fleece lined booster car seat comes in a neutral gray and is easy to install.
- Waterproof bottom oxford padding
- Small leash included
- Durable quick release buckle with nylon webbing
This car seat carrier does double duty as both a car seat and an airline approved carrier for small dogs up to 15 pounds.
- Waterproof nylon shell and softly padded
- Adjustable straps fit most cars, vans and SUVs
- Two-in-one carrier and car seat
All the Rest
This is another choice that can be used as a dog bed at home in addition to a booster car seat.
- Accommodates a medium or large dog or two puppies
- Elevates the pet 6.5 inches above the vehicle seat
- Includes a security leash, two seat belt loops and a sling
A tiger print interior in this booster safety seat turns any dog into a cool cat.
- Adjustable straps
- Solid foam base
- Washable lining
This sleek design looks good in any car and gives your pet a window to the world.
- Tether attached for added security
- Handy front storage pocket
- Easy to install and folds for seamless storage
This one has a padded hard bottom and mesh sides along with extra pockets.
- Comes in four colors
- Safety strap attaches to harness or pet collar
- Metal frame will not allow the seat to collapse
No assembly is required with this charcoal, black or tan booster car seat that can accommodate two small pets.
- Sturdy foam with soft micro-suede cover and removable plush pillow
- Tether can be attached to pet’s harness
- Booster is easily attached to car seat
This car seat is popular among Amazon consumers and comes in either a standard or deluxe version
- Includes plastic panels that connect together without tools for quick assembly
- Easy to clean
- Integrates with the vehicle seat belt to provide added security
This one is dually functional as both a car seat and a home pet bed and contains pockets and a storage partition.
- Elevates your pet 7 inches high above the vehicle seat
- Includes a safety inner leash, two seat belt loops and a car seat safety surround belt
- Can be folded down for flat storage
If you’re looking to travel with your pet, you may find these posts on taking your pooch in the car helpful as well: