We all love to take our dogs with us wherever we go, and that usually means frequent car rides. Small dogs, including puppies, can have difficulties with car rides. They aren’t able to comfortably look out the window, and the motion of the car can be quite dangerous. That’s why a dog car seat is so useful. You can strap your puppy in for the ride and be confident that they won’t hurt themselves. And if they need a little extra help seeing out the window, a lot of car seats double as booster seats. A two in one!
Finding the perfect dog car seat is difficult, so we reviewed dozens of dog car seats and booster seats to find the best, highest quality, and most comfortable car seats based on their prices, design, and Amazon rating. We narrowed our search down to 5 of the top-rated dog car seats and booster seats that dog owners can buy for their beloved family member.
If you’re looking to take your dog on a road trip, you might want to consider the K&H Bucket Booster Pet Seat. Aside from comforting your pet, it provides a bit of elevation so that even the smallest dog can take in the view. The seat fits most cars, both front and back, and is secured using a standard seat belt. There’s also a security leash for you to strap your dog in, ensuring they don’t fall out of the seat should you be forced to break hard.
The 5 Top-Rated Dog Car Seats and Booster Seats
|Best Overall||K&H Bucket Booster Pet Seat||4.9|
|Runner Up||Snoozer Lookout Car Seat||4.2|
|Best Budget Buy||Friends Forever Dog Vehicle Harness||4.7|
|Best Puppy Car Seat||WOpet Car Seat Carrier||4.3|
|Best Dog Car Harness||Pawaboo Dog Safety Harness
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Our Top Pick: K&H Bucket Booster Pet Seat
The K&H Bucket Booster Pet Seat is the perfect seat for your favorite dog. It’s a comfortable bucket-shaped seat that your dog will feel safe and secure in. It comes in two different sizes, small and large, so there’s a suitable option for most dogs, and it will cost you $61 or $94 dollars respectively.
This seat has a fabric exterior and a plush, quilted-fleece interior that feels snug. With a design made to fit both the front and back seat of your average vehicle, it’s sure to fit your car. The seat secures onto the seat with a standard seat belt, which is hidden at the back. There’s also a secured leash on the inside that can be used as a seat belt for your dog, securing them to their harness so that they don’t injure themselves due to the car’s motion.
The inside of the seat is contoured so that your dog feels safe in their seat, which actually comes in two different colors. The small seat fits one small dog or puppy, and the large seat fits two small dogs or one medium-sized dog. It’s easy to get in and out of, not too expensive, and has glowing reviews. That’s why we chose it as our best pick.
K&H Bucket Booster Pet Seat Key Features:
- Fits both the front and back seat
- Machine washable cover
- Boosted seat allows your dog to see out of the window
- Includes a security leash
Our Runner Up Pick: Snoozer Lookout Car Seat
If your main concern is helping your pooch get a better view, then you’ll want to consider the Snoozer Lookout Car Seat. It comes in two different sizes, small and medium, as well as numerous different colors. Because many people like to keep their car’s interior clean and aesthetically pleasing, the color options are ideal.
The seat has a quilted nylon cover on the exterior that repels pet hair, helping it keep its clean appearance. The cover is also removable and machine washable, as is the interior, making clean-up in case of accidents effortless. The seat is lined with sherpa, keeping your pooch warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and the interior is simulation lamb wool.
Its foam form doesn’t lose its shape over time, so it’s bound to last many years without needing to be replaced. There’s a security leash included to attach to your dog’s harness for added safety, and the seat attaches to the seat with a seat belt. It’s quite expensive but well worth the cost.
Snoozer Lookout Car Seat Key Features:
- Elevates your dog, helping them see out of the window
- Sherpa lining regulates temperature
- Machine washable thanks to removable parts
- Attaches to the seat
Best Budget Pick: Friends Forever Dog Vehicle Harness
This set of 2 Friends Forever Dog Vehicle Harnesses is suitable for all dogs, small and large. They’re adjustable up to 32 inches and allow your beloved dog to get comfortable, whether that means sitting or lying down. The harness is also easy to snap-on and off and has a quick release function for problem-free use.
The harnesses are made of durable nylon fabric that’s guaranteed to never break, and the buckle is made with USA industrial zinc alloy metal. It’s designed to work with all standard seat belts, and a seat belt leash is recommended to be used alongside the harness. Rest assured that your dog will be safe with this harness, letting you keep your eyes on the road. For a low price of around $17 for a pack of two, you can’t go wrong.
Friends Forever Dog Vehicle Harness Key Features:
- Very affordable
- Two harnesses included
- Adjustable up to 32 inches
- Made with durable nylon
Looking for more vehicle harnesses? Read our review of the best car harnesses for dogs.
Best Puppy Car Seat: WOpet Car Seat Carrier
Looking for a car seat that doubles as an airplane-approved carrier? The WOpet Car Seat Carrier is what you want. It’s suitable for both small and medium-sized dogs up to 15 pounds, but is perfect for puppies. The interior is spacious and comfortable, so much so that you might have a hard time getting your puppy out. The fact that it’s enclosed makes it ideal for a puppy as you don’t have to worry about them falling out and injuring themselves.
The carrier has adjustable straps that fit most standard cars, and on the inside there’s a hook to connect your dog’s harness to. This way, they stay inside the carrier and don’t try to escape, and are secured in case of an accident. The exterior is made of a nylon shell that’s waterproof and resists dog hair, while the interior is extra padded for comfort.
There are pockets on the sides for you to store your dog’s leash, waste bags, and whatever else you might need to bring with you.
WOpet Car Seat Carrier Key Features:
- Adjustable straps to fit most cars
- Doubles as an airline approved carrier
- Waterproof interior
- Extra soft padding
Best Dog Car Harness: Pawaboo Dog Safety Harness
Harnesses are great for securing your dog in the car without the added bulk of an additional seat. If your dog doesn’t need the added height of a booster seat, there’s no reason to not use the Pawaboo Dog Safety Harness. It comes in four different sizes, fitting dogs between 11 and 33 pounds. The harness secures your pup into the seat while giving them the freedom to move around and be free.
It’s made of durable, sturdy yet lightweight oxford fabric. It’s soft and guaranteed to not hurt the dog, and it’s very easy to put on and take off. There’s a premium, stainless steel snap hook that is durable and can withstand harsh tugs, so you don’t have to worry about the harness disconnecting should the pup pull on it or you make a hard stop. It connects to the seat with a belt buckle, and will cost you only $12.99.
Pawaboo Dog Safety Harness Key Features:
- Durable, lightweight, and soft
- Connects with seat belts
- Can also be used for walking
- Made with oxford fabric
Who Should Buy a Dog Car Seat or Booster Seat
If you have a small or medium-sized dog and plan on taking him in a car, you need a dog car seat for the same reason we use seat belts. A dog car seat can secure your pooch, giving you piece of mind to focus on the road. And should an accident happen, the seat will keep your dog safe and in place.
Aside from that, dog car seats and booster seats help your dog feel more comfortable when in the car, and an added bonus is that some of the combat motion sickness. A lot of animals get sick when they’re in a car, and anything you can do to prevent that is welcomed. In addition to that, a lot of smaller dogs have a hard timeseeing out of the window, an activity that they really enjoy. With a booster seat, you’re helping them do that safely.
Important Features to Consider
A dog car seat or booster seat should have a few important features. Here’s what to consider when selecting one:
- Picking the right size for your pup. When picking a dog car seat, it’s important that you get one that’s the right size for your dog. Too small, and you might not be able to keep your dog in it, as they’ll be uncomfortable. Too large, and they’ll be unsafe and at risk of injury. The perfect dog car seat should give your pup the room to sit or lay down. If there’s a harness or seat belt mechanism, it should fit snug, but not too tight or it might irritate the skin.
- How does it secure to the seat? There are a few ways that dog car seats secure themselves to the seat. One design has two seat belts built in, one that wraps around the back of the seat while the other wraps around the headrest. Another type of dog car seat has a hole to insert the car’s seat belt and it secures that way. Harnesses typically attach using their own belt buckle, which attaches to the seat belt holder in the car, or they have a clip that clips onto the seat belt.
- Does it add height? Not all dog car seats are also booster seats. You can get dog car seats that don’t add any height and are mainly used for securing your pup and keeping them safe. On the other hand, dog booster seats exist that not only keep your pup safe, but add up to 10 inches of height, giving them a clear view out of the window.
- Harness or car seat? Either one of these options will help you keep your dog safe. A dog car seat adds a bit of bulk to your car and might not match the decor. If that’s something you’re concerned about, opt for a harness. Car seats do give your pup the feeling of having his own space in the car, which is an added bonus, plus some of them are also booster seats. But if your only concern is safety, a harness is just fine on its own.
- Materials, color, and design. Before you buy your dog car seat, make sure that it’s aesthetically what you’re looking for. Check the measurements and see how it will fit in your car, and make sure it’s large enough to fit your dog comfortably. If it clashes with the decor of your car, you might be less likely to use it, but if it’s aesthetically pleasing and blends in, you’ll keep it in the car.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a dog booster seat?
A dog booster seat is used for two purposes. First, it gives your pooch a safe place to ride during car trips. They’re infinitely safer than leaving your dog unattended in the car, as they’re secured with a seat belt, and the dog is secured to the dog car seat itself. The second purpose of a booster seat is to lift your small dog high enough so that they can see out of the window, which we know that dogs love to do.
What size booster seat does my dog need?
Car booster seats typically come in two sizes: small and large. A small booster seat is big enough to fit a small dog, giving them room to sit comfortably. If your dog is medium sized, meaning they’re over 30 pounds, get the largest option available. Dogs over 30 pounds don’t typically need to use a booster seat, as they are often able to see out of the window just fine. For larger dogs, we recommend using a harness.
How safe are dog car seats?
Dog car seats are quite safe, given you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. For larger dogs, a harness and seat belt system is recommended as opposed to a car seat. Small to medium sized dogs do quite well in dog car seats, as they prevent your pooch from flying forward in case of an accident. For maximum protection, you can combine a dog car seat with a harness.
How do you install a dog car seat?
Dog car seats are quite easy to install. Place them where you’d like your dog to be (the back seat is recommended) and secure them following the manufacturer’s instructions. Some car seats have straps that you wrap around the back of the seat, while others clip onto the seat belt. When using straps, make sure to tighten them so that the car seat is stable.