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9 Best Dog Car Seats and Seat Belts for Safe Travels

Dog wearing a seatbelt sitting in the car
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Whether you’re heading across town or across the country, driving with your dog can be lots of fun for pets and parents, alike. However, according to a recent survey, while most pet parents know that a car accident could seriously injure their dog, only 16 percent report using a restraint like a dog car seat or seat belt while driving. 

Not only can these essential safety devices help protect your pup, but they can also help to keep drivers safe from hazardous distractions, too. And that makes a dog car seat or dog seat belt a must-have on any road trip, no matter where you’re headed. 

We consulted with several vets for tips on finding the best and most effective car restraint for your dog. Here’s everything you need to know before you hit the road with your pet. 

Do Dogs Need Seat Belts?

To keep both you and your pet safe, it’s important to restrain your dog properly while riding in the car. “An unrestrained dog can fall off the seat when there’s an abrupt stop, jump into the front seat, become a distraction for the driver, and possibly interfere with the driver’s use of the steering wheel or gas and brake pedals,” says Amy Attas, DVM, founder of City Pets, a Manhatten-based a veterinary house call service. “If there is a major impact, unless the dog is restrained, the force of the deployed airbag can be fatal.”

In fact, many states have laws that require dogs to be properly secured inside a vehicle. “Several states require pets to be restrained while in a car,” Attas notes. “And it is illegal in many states to allow a dog on a driver’s lap while the vehicle is moving.”

How We Chose Our Top Dog Car Seats and Seat Belts

Dog laying in backseat of car wearing a car seatbelt

To find the best dog car seats and dog seat belts, we consulted with two veterinarians who provided tips on what to look for in a car restraint. We evaluated each product based on its overall design, cost, and size range. And we combed reviews to see what real pet owners had to say about each product’s effectiveness and any potential shortcomings. 

9 Best Dog Car Seats and Seat Belts

Whether you’re shopping for a dog car seat or seat belt — or both! — we’ve found some of the best options for dogs of all sizes. 

All featured products are chosen at the discretion of the author. However, Great Pet Care may make a small affiliate commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Our Picks

Best Dog Car Seats for Travel

Dog car seats are a popular option for smaller breeds, as they keep your dog from wandering throughout the car and elevate pets so they can see out the window. “Dog car seats are designed like children’s car seats to keep a dog safely restrained in a car and protected in case of an accident,” explains Attas. 

When it comes to dog car seats, here are the best of the best, according to our research. 

Best Overall Dog Car Seat

Our Pick: K&H Pet Products Bucket Booster Pet Seat

K&H Pet Product Bucket Booster Pet Seat

The K&H Bucket Booster Pet Seat will keep your dog elevated and safe as they ride in the car. This booster-style seat comes in small or large sizes, as well as a variety of neutral colors. It has a cozy plush fleece interior to keep your dog comfy, and its curved back provides a more secure fit in your car. Your car’s seat belt threads through the bottom of the pet seat to keep it securely in place, and there are two easy-clip tethers that you can attach to your dog’s collar or harness.  If your dog (understandably) prefers to be toasty warm, there’s even an upgrade option with a USB-powered heating pad, so your pup can enjoy a warm (and safe) ride! 

Highlights

  • Two sizes available
  • Machine-washable cover
  • Two easy-clip tethers
  • Elevates pets to see out the window
  • Collapses for easy storage
  • Heated option (subject to availability)
  • Small (18” x 18”) recommended for small pets, Large (20” x 22”) can fit up to two small pets or one medium-sized breed

Things to Consider

  • Not suitable for large breed dogs 

Best Small Dog Car Seat

Our Pick: Snoozer Black Pet Car Seat

Snoozer Black Pet Car Seat Console Lookout

If your small dog likes standing on the center console while you drive, you can keep them secure (without impeding their view) when you choose the Snoozer Pet Car Seat. Unlike other options that are designed to attach to the seat of the car, this product attaches to the center console of your car, giving your small dog a perfect view out of the windshield. It has a soft fleece lining, and there’s a safety strap that you can attach to your dog’s harness to keep them from jumping out. The car seat comes in two sizes, the larger of which can hold dogs up to 12 pounds. 

Highlights

  • Two sizes available
  • Attaches to the center console
  • Includes safety strap for restraint
  • Soft fleece lining
  • Small (7″H x 9″W x 15″L) holds pets up to 7 lbs, Large (7″H x 12″W x 19″L) holds pets up to 12 lbs 

Things to Consider

  • Only suitable for dogs up to 12 pounds
  • Doesn’t fit all cars

Best Large Dog Car Seat

Our Pick: K&H Pet Products Buckle N’ Go Dog Car Seat

K&H Pet Products Buckle N' Go Dog Car Seat for Pets

For larger dogs, the K&H Buckle N’ Go Dog Cat Seat is a spacious option that will still keep them contained and protected…so drivers can stay focused on the road. It can be installed on either side of your car’s back seat, and it has harnesses that loop around the front and back headrests. It comes in small and large sizes, and there’s no weight limit, as it relies on your car’s seat to support your pup. This car seat has high mesh sides to keep your dog secure, and it comes with a dog seat belt that clicks into your car’s existing belt lock. 

Highlights

  • Two sizes available
  • Keeps large dogs restrained
  • No weight limit
  • Mesh sides for breathability
  • Includes a dog seat belt
  • Folds flat for storage
  • Small (21” x 13” x 19”), Large (21’ x 19” x 19”) 

Things to Consider

  • Seat belt may not work with all belt locks

Best Budget Dog Car Seat

Our Pick: FEANDREA Dog Car Seat

FEANDREA Dog Car Seat

The FEANDREA Dog Car Seat is a budget-friendly option for smaller dogs. It can hold dogs up to 26 pounds, but the brand notes that dogs under 18 pounds will fit most comfortably. The box-like design has two straps — one that goes around the headrest and one that goes behind the seat. And you can use the upper strap to adjust the height of the car seat so your dog can see out the window. There’s also a spot in the back that you can thread the seat belt through for additional security. This dog seat has an adjustable tether to keep your dog from jumping out, and there are several storage pockets, as well as a water bottle holder, on the exterior of the seat. 

Highlights

  • Price is hard to beat
  • Adjustable height gives your pup a window seat
  • Folds flat for easy storage when not in use
  • Multiple straps hold the seat in place 
  • Adjustable tether keeps your dog secure
  • Four built-in storage pockets
  • Available in three colors (black, gray, brown)
  • Size: 16.5”L x 12.6”W x 8.9”H

Things to Consider

  • Only suitable for dogs up to 26 pounds
  • Fits dogs up to 13.8” long (measured nose to base of tail)
  • Fits dogs up to 14.5” in height (measured while sitting)

Best Dog Seat Belts for Travel

Dog seat belts are another option to keep your dog secure while driving. “In an accident, the dog is held close to the back seat, and the seat belt harness spreads the impact causing less injury to the dog,” explains Attas. 

It’s important to note that dog seat belts are generally designed to tether to a well-fitting harness. Check the manufacturer’s instructions before purchasing to ensure you’re getting the best fit for your pup.  

Here are some of the best dog seat belts and harnesses for your pet.

Best Overall Seat Belt for Dogs

Our Pick: Kurgo Tru-Fit Enhanced Strength Dog Harness and Seat Belt

Kurgo Tru-Fit Enhanced Strength Dog Harness

The Kurgo Tru-Fit Dog Harness and Seat Belt is a top choice for keeping your dog securely restrained in any car. The harness is ideal for everyday use, with rings on both the front and back to clip your leash. It comes in five different sizes to fit all types of dogs, and you can choose between a wide range of stylish colors, as well. It has five adjustment points for a snug fit, and the chest plate is padded for comfort. The harness comes with a tether that attaches with a carabiner clip to your car’s seatbelt and the harness back strap. This super-secure seatbelt system has been crash-tested using the US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard for child restraints, so you can rest easy knowing your fur baby is well-protected. 

Highlights

  • Includes both an everyday harness and seat belt tether for travel
  • Five adjustment points for a snug fit
  • Crash-tested up to 75 pounds 
  • Leash attachment rings on the front and back of harness
  • Lifetime warranty 
  • Available in X-Small, Small, Medium, Large, and X-Large sizes 

Things to Consider

  • Some pet parents say the system can be complicated to put onto your dog

Best Budget Dog Seat Belt

Our Pick: Vastar Adjustable Dog Seat Belt (2 Pack)

Vastar 2 Packs Adjustable Pet Dog Cat Car Seat Belt

If you seldom take your dog in the car, or you’re looking for a quality, inexpensive option to take on vacation with you, the Vastar Dog Seat Belt two-pack is a great buy. These simple seat belts come in a pack of two — ideal if you have multiple vehicles or dogs — and there are six colors to choose from. One end of the belt clicks into your seat belt lock, while the other features a swiveling clip that you attach to your dog’s harness, to help keep your pup from getting too rambunctious in the car. The length of the seat belt can be adjusted to give your dog more or less freedom. Not all car seat belt buckles are the same size, so be sure to check that a 2cm clip will work with your car’s system before ordering the Vastar 2-pack. 

Highlights

  • Incredibly affordable and highly rated
  • Adjustable length (from 19 to 32 inches)
  • Includes two seat belts 
  • Solid zinc alloy swivel clip 

Things to Consider

  • May not work with all seat belt locks 

Best Dog Seat Belt Harness

Our Pick: Sleepypod ClickIt Sport Car Safety Dog Harness

Sleepypod ClickIt Sport Crash-Tested Car Safety Dog Harness

The Sleepypod ClickIt Sport is a safety harness that delivers five-star security when riding in the car with your dog. Its three-point design secures your pup’s entire torso, while the broad cushioned vest helps to reduce damaging forces in the event of an accident. The vest is not only crash-tested, but it’s also one of only a few designs that are certified by the Center for Pet Safety. It comes in several colors, as well as sizes small to extra-large, and your car’s seat belt loops directly through the harness, saving you from needing to purchase additional hardware. 

Highlights

  • Crash-tested and 
  • Certified safe up to 75 pounds by the Center for Pet Safety
  • Three-point Infinity Loop design restrains dogs securely
  • Wide, cushioned chest piece designed to absorb energy in event of a crash
  • Quick connection and release
  • Built-in reflector strips 
  • Available in Small (fits dogs with chest measurements between 16.5-22” around), Medium (22.5-28”), Large (28.5-34”), XLarge( 34.5-40”) 

Things to Consider

  • Not suitable for select breeds, including Greyhounds, Whippets, Salukis, Afghan Hounds, and Borzois
  • Expensive, but the quality is hard to beat

Best Dog Seat Belt for Headrests

Our Pick: BWOGUE Dog Seat Belt

BWOGUE Pet Dog Cat Seat Belts

If you have a car model with unconventional seat belt locks that don’t fit standard tether attachments, you may want to consider a dog seat belt like this one from BWOGUE, which hooks up to a headrest. It has a loop that you place around the headrest of your car’s seat, and it buckles tightly into place. The other end of the belt has a swiveling clip that you can attach to your dog’s harness, and the length is adjustable to give your dog more or less space to move around.

Highlights

  • Affordable
  • Fits all cars with headrests
  • Adjustable length tether (18-30 inches)
  • Solid zinc alloy swivel clip
  • Seat belt can be used as a traditional hand-held leash 

Things to Consider

  • Some users said they wished the belt would shorten even further

Best Chew-Resistant Dog Seat Belt

Our Pick: Leash Boss Dog Car Seat Belt

Leash Boss Dog Car Seat Belt Restraint

If your dog is a chewer, you may want to upgrade to the heavy-duty Leash Boss Dog Car Seat Belt. Instead of a traditional nylon strap, this seat belt is made from an extremely durable steel cable that’s coated in nylon. It attaches to your car’s safety latch bars, which are used to secure children’s car seats, and it comes in a variety of lengths, from 16 to 36 inches. 

Highlights

  • Made from chew-proof steel rope coated in heavy-duty nylon
  • Connects to safety latch bars, so it won’t trip your dog
  • Five-year warranty
  • Available in a variety of sizes/lengths: 16″ (for small dogs up to 20 lbs), 21″ (for medium dogs 20-40 lbs), 26″ (for large dogs 40-60 lbs), 31″ (for extra-large dogs 60-80 lbs), 36″ (for extra-extra-large dogs 80+ lbs)

Things to Consider

  • While steel cable is chew-proof, heavy chewers might still gnaw off nylon coating 
  • Safety latch systems are often deeply embedded in seats, so it may be harder to install in some car models

Dog Car Seat and Seat Belt Buyer’s Guide

Dog sitting in backseat of car wearing a dog seatbelt

There are several key factors to take into consideration as you shop for either a dog car seat or a dog seat belt.  

Size

Your dog’s size will play a big role in determining whether you should use a dog car seat or a dog seat belt to restrain them. In general, dog car seats are typically designed for small- to medium-sized dogs and have fairly low weight limits. These types of seats also often provide the additional benefit of elevating your dog so they can look out the window while driving. If you do choose to use a car seat that’s designed for large-breed dogs, make sure your pet doesn’t exceed the weight limit and can sit/lay down comfortably in the seat. 

Compatibility

Many dog seat belts are designed to attach directly to your car’s belt locks, but not all vehicles have the same locking mechanisms. Be sure to confirm that the system is compatible with the make and model of your car before you buy. Otherwise, you could end up with a product you can’t use. If you know your car has non-standard belt locks, you may want to opt for a dog seat belt that fastens around the headrest instead.

Installation

Dog seat belts and car seats all have different installation requirements, and it’s useful to review the necessary steps before you buy. If you’ll be moving the car seat or seat belt between vehicles or removing it to make space for passengers, an easy-to-install model will help simplify that process. 

Safety Ratings

There are no current regulations to set standards for dog seat belts and car seats, but if you want to ensure your dog is as safe as possible in the car, there are a few things you can look for. Select models may be crash-tested, which helps ensure they will protect your dog in the event of an accident. Also, it’s a good idea to look for products approved by the Center for Pet Safety, according to Attas.

Dog Car Seat FAQs

Owner clipping dog into seatbelt in the car

We sought out answers to pet parents’ most common questions about dog car seat and seat belt safety, including some insights from our veterinary experts.  

What if my dog doesn’t like being restrained in the car?

Some dogs may not like being restrained in the car, but it’s essential for their safety. You can try different types of restraints to make your dog more comfortable, and it can also help to expose them to the restraint in short sessions. Try sitting in the car for a few minutes each day so they can get used to their restraint. 

Are dog seat belts safe?

When used properly, dog seat belts are safe for your dog and will also help keep the driver and passengers safe from distraction. However, it’s important to use dog seat belts with an appropriate harness; they should never be attached to a dog’s collar. 

Do dogs need car seats?

Dogs don’t necessarily need car seats; a dog seat belt will work just fine. But certain pets may like having an elevated space to perch in as you drive. According to veterinarian Aziza Glass, DVM, owner of Personal Touch Veterinary Clinic, “Car seats not only secure your dog, but help with motion sickness, which some dogs are prone to, as well as animal anxiety.” 

Can dogs ride in the front seat of the car?

Dogs should not ride in the front seat where they can be a distraction and where the close proximity to the airbags could cause serious or fatal injury if deployed,” says Attas.

How do you secure a dog crate in the car?

Many dog crates that are designed for traveling have a spot where you can thread a seat belt, allowing you to quickly and easily secure the crate to your vehicle’s seat. If you have an SUV or other car with fold-down seats, you can secure a large dog crate using tie-down straps.

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