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The 5 Best Dog Car Seats To Keep Your Pup Safe on the Road

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10 min read

Updated - Aug 10th, 2022

Did you know that several states actually require dogs to be strapped in during car travel? But even if your state doesn’t require your dog to have a car seat, your dog’s safety should remain top of mind. There are tons of pet products that are extremely helpful during pet travel, and dog car seats are certainly no exception. But how do you know which one to pick? 

We’re breaking down our favorite dog car seats, why we love them, and why we think you will, too!

1. Best Overall Dog Car Seat Carrier 

The Away Pet Carrier

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This pet carrier is perfect for carrying your small dog, taking them on plane flights, and securely strapping them in for short or long car rides. It has been crash-tested, certified by the Center for Pet Safety, and meets the requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration. There are multiple storage pockets on this carrier bag, as well as a retractable privacy screen, plenty of ventilation, and a removable name card. Plus, it has latches that securely fasten to your car’s seat belt.

What humans like: 

  • Available in two colors
  • Crash-tested
  • Multiple interior and exterior storage pockets
  • Trolley sleeve for easy travel
  • Holds dogs up to 18 lbs
  • 100-day trial

What dogs like: 

  • Sherpa bedding
  • Water-resistant lining
  • Mesh panels on three sides for ventilation

What we don’t like: 

  • Pricier than most

What customers are saying:

“I use this for my Pomsky for air travel and car travel. My puppy loves it so much that as soon as she sees me bring it off of her crate and set it down on the ground, she jumps right in it and settles down. She loves going for car rides in it.”

2. Best Value Dog Car Seat Carrier 

Diggs Passenger Travel Carrier

The Diggs Passenger Travel Carrier is another lightweight, stylish, crash-tested dog carrier that has been approved by the Center for Pet Safety. You can bring your pup in the car, and easily strap them into the car seat belt. Or you can bring them on a plane and sit the carrier bag underneath the seat in front of you. It is easy to clean, easy to carry, and holds dogs and cats up to 18 lbs.

What humans like: 

  • Easy-to-clean material
  • Airline-friendly
  • Fits under airplane seat in front of you
  • Available in four stylish colors
  • Crash tested
  • Multiple storage pockets
  • Detachable crossbody strap
  • Holds dogs up to 18 lbs

What dogs like: 

  • Soft bedding
  • Attachable pee pad
  • Easy-access side and front panels

What we don’t like: 

  • Pricier than most

What customers are saying:

“Excellent quality. Love this carrier because of the front door and side door opening. The dog jumps into it the minute we are going somewhere in the car. Fantastic safety and fastens to the seat belt. When we bought It, I thought it was a lot of money. When it arrived, I immediately saw the quality of the product and knew we would have it for years to come.”

3. Best Budget Dog Car Seat

PupSaver Booster Car Seat for Dogs

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The PupSaver Booster Car Seat is a popular choice with great ratings and stellar customer reviews. This dog car seat may be on the pricier side, but it’s well worth it. The PupSaver booster has a great high-back headrest that will keep your pup feeling comfortable and secure. It has been crash tested and can be secured with your car’s seat belt. 

What humans like: 

  • Available in four colors
  • Can hold a dog up to 30 lbs
  • Heavy duty metal j-hooks that latch to the back seat
  • All-metal safety tether to keep your pup safe
  • Crash tested

What dogs like: 

  • Made from soft ballistic nylon
  • Shape contours to your dog’s body

What we don’t like: 

  • Too bulky for some cars

What customers are saying:

“I take this little baby to work with me every day and this car seat has made driving to work so much easier. He doesn’t complain since I’m right next to him and he is comfortable in this car seat/bed so he just sleeps. I feel relieved knowing that he is safe next to me just in case.”

4. Best Dog Car Seat Carrier for Extra-Small Dogs

Sleepypod Mini for Pets Under 7 lbs

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The Sleepypod Mini for Pets Under 7 lbs is perfect for those tiny dog breeds, or small puppies. If you travel a lot with your tiny pup, this dog car seat carrier is the perfect size to help keep them safe and secure. It is crash-tested, approved by the Center for Pet Safety, stylish, has breathable mesh, a soft padding, and securely straps into your car’s seat belt. 

What humans like: 

  • Crash-tested
  • Available in six different colors
  • Available in two sizes
  • Padded shoulder strap
  • Lightweight for easy travel

What dogs like: 

  • Washable, soft bedding
  • Mesh dome top for breathability
  • Water-resistant foam liner

What we don’t like: 

  • Zipper closure can be finicky (Not the best for chewers!)

What customers are saying:

“I was very impressed. It is high quality and sturdy. The inside comes apart so you can wash easily… She has plenty of room to sit up or lay down. I can tell she feels very safe… It also fits under the seat in front of you on the airplane with about 3 inches to spare on the width. I am very glad I splurged to get this carrier. It is worth the money. I highly recommend this product.”

5. Best Dog Car Seat Kennel for Large Dogs

Gunner G1 Kennel

The Gunner G1 Kennel has been crashed tested with a 5-star rating from the Center for Pet Safety. It has 2x the impact protection with its double-walled rotomold. It’s made in the USA, has a lifetime warranty, and doesn’t weigh too much for its size and quality. The intermediate size is rated for dogs up to 75 lbs, and comes with crash-tested straps for the bed of a truck. 

What humans like: 

  • Crash-tested
  • Heavy-duty 
  • Available in 4 different sizes
  • Available in 5 different colors
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Safety latches
  • Strong carrying handles

What dogs like: 

  • Double-walled for extra protection
  • Protects against heat and cold
  • Element-repelling windows like rain, sleet, and snow
  • Drainage system

What we don’t like: 

  • Pricier than most
  • May be too heavy for some people to comfortably lift

What customers are saying:

“This is by far the best kennel made. I use mine daily and they take lots of abuse. They never even seem to wear them at all. Hose them off with soap and water and they look brand new. I encourage all of my puppy buyers to get them as well. It’s like an insurance plan for your best friend!”

6. Best Dog Car Seat Kennel for Extra-Large Dogs

Lucky Duck Kennel

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If you have an extra large dog, this is the safest way for you to transport your large pooch in the car. This is the first crate or kennel to receive a 5-star crash test rating from the Center for Pet Safety that can hold dogs up to 110 lbs. It’s made from high-quality materials, and is a reasonable weight for its size and durability. 

What humans like: 

  • Crash-tested for dogs up to 110 lbs. 
  • Only weighs 45 lbs. 
  • Easy lift handles
  • Reversible door
  • Corner locking pins for safety
  • Heavy-duty locking latch
  • Secure tie downs for truck bed

What dogs like: 

  • Well-ventilated
  • Non-slip rubber feet
  • Drain holes

What we don’t like: 

  • Pricier than most
  • May be too heavy for some people to comfortably lift

What customers are saying:

“This kennel is perfect for ensuring safe car travel. It’s lightweight, but very sturdy. A lot of air vents to keep the dog cool. We have had to clean it several times as our dog gets motion sickness and it is so easy to spray down with the hose and water drains right out. The large fits perfectly in the back of my 2019 Traverse. The measurements on the website were very helpful to find the right size for my car and dog.”

What makes a good dog car seat?

Whether it’s a long road trip or a short car ride, if you’re concerned about your dog’s safety in the car, you may consider a dog car seat, carrier, or kennel. Purchasing a quality dog car seat with an attached safety tether is the most worthwhile purchase. And it’s important to ensure the dog car seat has been crash-tested, and approved by the Center for Pet Safety

Some pet parents with large dog breeds will use a dog kennel or crate. While these have a similar effect to a dog car seat, your dog can still slide around inside of a kennel. If you do choose to go this route, make sure you secure your dog’s crate with a strong set of straps – some heavy-duty crates will provide these. 

A good dog car seat will have comfortable padding that can make your dog feel like they are sitting in a dog bed. This is especially important for long car rides or flights. Your dog’s car seat should also have a seat belt tether that can attach to your dog’s harness. As well as a way to easily attach your car’s seat belt to the dog car seat or carrier, so that it doesn’t move around or slide off the seat, if you have to slam on your brakes. 

Expert buying tips

When searching for your future dog car seat, dog carrier, or dog kennel, make sure to always check out the star rating and customer reviews. This is often the best way to find out what the pet products are like in real life, what the pros and cons are, and which will be the best dog car seat for your pup.

You’ll also want to look for things like a heavy-duty metal frame, the quality of the material used, and the ease of use. Is the liner easily removable? Does the dog car seat secure into your car’s seat belt quickly and easily? Is the pet car seat foldable or collapsible? Be sure to think about your dog’s unique needs. 

Most larger dogs will only fit in a dog kennel – not a dog car seat or carrier. Most extra-small dogs fit best in a carrier. So it’s important to check the sizing and weight capacity of the product you’re considering purchasing.

It’s also important to note: this not a pet product worth skimping on quality for affordability. After all, the #1 priority is keeping your pooch safe! Look out for dog car seats that have been crash tested and approved by the Center for Pet Safety. The quality of your dog’s car seat can make a big difference in your dog’s safety, so it’s definitely worth investing a little more into a purchase like this.

The truth about dog car seats

Just like anything else, a cheaper dog car seat, carrier, or kennel may start to wear and tear before a more durable, high-quality one would. To keep your pup safe, watch for the following signs to see if it’s time to buy your doggy a new car seat:

  • The lining is starting to wear thin or tear holes
  • Your dog has chewed through a part of the dog car seat
  • The seat belt tether is starting to wear thin or tear
  • The padding is getting lumpy
  • Any pieces of the kennel have broken off or come loose

With dog car seats, you usually get what you pay for. If you want more luxury, comfort, and ease, it’s going to cost you more. As will quality and safety. The companies who have gone through the trouble of making their products crash tested and certified by the Center for Pet Safety are definitely worth the higher price tag.  

Dog car seats FAQs

Are dog car seats safe?

Dog car seats can be very safe for dogs to use in the car. But you’ll want to make sure that you purchase one with the right safety features, that it fits your dog’s size properly, and that it has been crash tested and certified by the Center for Pet Safety.  

What should I look for in a dog car seat?

There are certain features that are a must when purchasing a dog car seat. Make sure it has been crash tested, has sturdy construction, a comfortable surface or padding, water-resistance, and a safety harness – or safety straps if it’s a kennel – so that your dog is safely restrained. 

What is the safest seat in a car for a dog?

Just like children, it’s safest for your dog to sit in the back seat. Make sure they use some kind of safety harness, carrier, or kennel that straps into the car’s seat belt. 

Should dogs be in a car seat?

Dog car seats are best for small dogs, and some medium-sized dogs. But it’s most important that they use a safety harness, whether or not they are in a dog car seat. Larger dogs may also use crash tested kennels that are securely strapped in. 

What is the best dog car restraint?

Dog car seats can be extremely helpful in keeping your pup safe. But they need to be used in the back seat, with a safety harness and need to be the appropriate size for your dog to be the most effective. 


DISCLOSURE

FTC Disclaimer of Endorsement 

Pumpkin independently researched, reviewed and selected the best products featured in this article. If you purchase a product through this article, we may earn a commission. While we do our best to update links often, prices and deals are subject to change.


Victoria is a freelance copywriter for the dog industry and has two furbabies of her own. She is passionate about healthy dog care-taking, training, and helping dog parents through the ups and downs of pet parenting.