Car rides can be an exhilarating, tongue-wagging experience for most dogs, but giving them their own comfy spot can keep them calm, safe, and much less of a potential distraction to you. The best dog car seats are easy to set up and come with the proper attachments to keep it (and your pet) secure as you travel. The kind of seat you choose will be tailored to the size of your dog.
Before you shop, there are some safety precautions to note. First, front-seat placement is not recommended for any style of pet-related car seats. Likewise, pets should always be tethered to a safety belt via a dog harness (and not a standard collar), which keeps them properly secured. Many include an adjustable restraint, but you may still need to buy one separately.
There are three main seat styles to consider, but no matter which you go with, one that's waterproof will also help your car's interior stay as clean as possible:
- Bucket: A bucket is a seat that has four softshell walls to keep your dog contained. Some rest right on your seat, but if you have a smaller or medium-sized dog (under 30 pounds or so) an elevated, bolster style can allow your pooch to see out the window, which can also help prevent motion sickness.
- Carrier: If you're willing to spend a little more, a TSA-approved carrier bag with proper safety belt attachments can offer tons of convenience as you hit the road (and/or fly). Just look for a dog carrier that's CPS-certified so you know it's interchangeable from car to plane.
- Hammock: This is a quilted seat cover that can easily convert your back seat into a "hammock" by looping straps around the headrests and/or grab handles, creating a soft enclosure for your dog. Because their weight rests directly on the seat, this option can be used for dogs of all sizes, and depending on your configuration, can be spacious enough for multiple pups.
Up ahead, you'll find five of the best dog car seats you can buy on Amazon.
1. This Cult-Favorite Backseat Hammock
- Best for dogs of all sizes (animal's weight sits on vehicle seat)
- Dimensions: 54 x 58 inches (width x length)
- Available colors: 5
With over 13,500 positive reviews on Amazon, this backseat hammock is a favorite for dogs of all sizes. It's extra versatile in its uses, as any of the sides can be folded down depending on your preference, or it can be used as more of a blanket if the seats are laying flat. Secure it to your car with adjustable straps that buckle around the headrests or grab handles, as well as "anchors" that can be pushed down between the seats. The surface is made of a durable, anti-scratch, waterproof material that has Velcro openings for access to the belt buckles, and two convenient pouch pockets. It also comes with a stretchy dog seatbelt to attach to a harness. Alternatively, from another brand, you can go with a hammock that only takes up half the back seat, saving room for passengers or extra storage.
Helpful review: "One year update: My Newfoundland 'puppy' is now a 128lb. I have made 7 18hr. trips with her in this, plus all the daily romps and outings when we are home. This product hasn't given an inch. I honestly can't believe it. I don't think I have ever purchased anything so durable! This thing is amazing and if I could give it ten stars, I would!"
2. An Elevated Bucket Seat That Gives Your Dog A Window View
- Best for dogs up to 20 pounds
- Dimensions: 16 x 12 x 8 inches (length x width x height)
- Available colors: 5
This bucket seat is a great way to keep your dog contained, instead of moving around the car or distracting the driver. It works best with rear bucket seats, or the small section of a split-style bench, as it has two adjustable straps: one that hooks around the headrest, and another that fastens around the base of the seat, both of which should be pulled snug. Inside, it has a removable corduroy lining that's washable, and an adjustable seatbelt tether to fasten to your dog's harness. It also has two exterior pockets and a waterproof finish.
Alternatively, you can opt for a similar style (from a different brand) that can also be secured while sitting flat on your car's seat.
Helpful review: "I got into a horrible accident less than one week after receiving the booster seat. [After the impact,] I looked in the back and my chihuahua mix, Gustav, was *still attached to the booster harness* and was happily smiling and wagging his tail as if he had just ridden a fun roller coaster! There wasn't a scratch on him. Not even a bruise. [...] One of the officers on the scene told me there was no way my dog would've survived without the seat and harness."
3. The Collapsible Bucket Seat That Can Hold One Big Dog (Or Several Small Dogs)
- Best for a total weight of up to 300 pounds
- Dimensions: 29 x 16 x 14 inches (length x width x height)
- Available colors: 1
Part bed, part booster, this comfortable car seat can easily hold several small dogs or one that's a bit larger. It has a cushioned pad covered in a reversible fabric with canvas on one side and warm fleece on the other, which means it could also double as a dog bed at home. To secure it to your backseat, just thread a seatbelt through the two designated loops on the back of the bed, and fasten the adjustable sling around the headrest. It also has two security tethers, though many shoppers have noted that these may not be strong enough for any dog above teacup size (but can easily be replaced with your own). Other features include two front pockets, and a carrying case that the bed can compactly fold into.
Helpful review: "PERFECT! Just what I was looking for. I have two dogs and I wanted both of them to fit in the same carrier. This is perfect for both of them and big enough for them to also lay down. The strap adjusts to lift it so they can see more out the window. It also has a cushion that can be lowered so the dogs are deeper in the carrier. It all folds up and collapses and comes with its own carrying case."
4. A Cozy Sherpa-Lined Bucket With Booster
- Best for dogs up to 18 lbs. (small) or dogs up to 25 lbs. (medium, featured)
- Dimensions: 15 x 17 x 19 inches (small), 22 x 17 x 19 inches (medium)
- Available colors: 21
With a 6-inch-thick foam block at the base, this bucket-style booster bed offers added height that's comfortable enough for a dog to stand or snooze on for the duration of your trip. To secure it to your car, simply run a seatbelt through the back slot and pull it tight. Then, hook the included restraint to your dog's harness, and loop it around the lap section of the seatbelt. As for the bed itself, the cover is zip-detachable and washable, whether you go with the sherpa-lined version (pictured), or one in a faux-suede microfiber.
Helpful review: "Before getting the seat, my maltipoo hated the car. He would get sick, shake and drool even on short trips. He loves his car seat, and now loves going in the car! I bought this 3 years ago, and it looks like brand new. The cover is washable, and the foam construction, coupled with the included harness makes it the safest place for your dog to be in the event of an accident."
5. This Crash-Tested Pet Carrier That You Can Secure With A Seatbelt
- Best for dogs up to 15 pounds
- Dimensions: 16–22 x 10.5 x 8–10.5 inches (adjustable length x width x height)
- Available colors: 6
Like a bucket seat but with an enclosed top, this crash-tested pet carrier is so convenient when it's time to travel. Features include a removable (and washable) plush bed, breathable mesh windows on two sides and the top, and zippered openings on either end. It also has an interior safety leash, two exterior pockets, and can be carried with two top handles, or the included shoulder strap. To secure the carrier to your car, pull a seatbelt around the base (the lap section of the belt fastens to a safety strap on the bag) — pull the belt snug, and hook the shoulder strap around a headrest for extra security. Lastly, this carrier is TSA-approved and can be compressed or expanded to accommodate airline regulations, or folded flat when not in use.
Helpful review: "This bag is worth every penny. We used it to transport our 12.5 pound Cavalier to and from Ireland. The bag is super versatile, the entire cushion unzips for laundering and it provides a cozy bed for your pet. The bag hooks into a carry on roller board so you can wheel your pet through the airport. The quality is top notch and it [...] also doubles as a car seat (you can attach a seatbelt). It's spendy, but worth it."
Also Nice: A Dog Harness That's Been Crash-Test Certified
- Available sizes: X-Small(5 to 10 pounds); Small (10 to 25 pounds); Medium (25 to 50 pounds, featured); Large (50 to 75 pounds); X-Large (75 to 105 pounds)
- Available colors: 2
While your dog already has an everyday collar, it's also a great idea to have a crash-tested harness that's designed specifically for use in the car (though this one can be used outside of the vehicle, too). It fastens with a single nested buckle and has a padded chest plate, a back ring for leash attachment, a front D-ring to assist with no-pull training, and five adjustment points for a customizable fit. To secure your pet in the car, simply fasten the included tether to both the lap and shoulder sections of a seatbelt, and then to the back strap of the harness.
Helpful review: "Bought this for road trips and highway driving to keep my dog safe. Hadn't planned on using it for short trips around town. However, we were unfortunately T-boned by a car going very fast through a stop sign. My dog was in the backseat, buckled into the middle buckle. We were hit very hard. Had she not been buckled in, she would've gone flying across the backseat and hit the passenger door. She could've been seriously physically hurt and mentally traumatized. Instead, she was 100% fine and just as excited to go on the next car ride as ever. I will never take my dog in the car without one again. Ever."
You May Also Like: A Set Of Safety Leashes That Latch Into The Seatbelt Buckle
- Best for dogs of all sizes
- Dimensions: Lead: 19.68–32.28 inches (length); Buckle: 0.83 x 2.35 inches (width x length)
- Available colors: 6
If you already have a harness you like but still need a car tether, this adjustable safety leash is a smart choice that boasts more than 14,000 five-star ratings. Featuring a built-in, universal seatbelt clip, it fits into almost any car's buckles. It's made of sturdy nylon and has a swivel hook clip to fasten to your dog's harness. On the off-chance that it isn't compatible with your vehicle, you can always opt for a leash from another brand that hooks around the headrest instead.
Helpful review: "They were a literal lifesaver for my dog. My car was totaled when a car going 45mph in the opposite direction crossed lanes and hit us. My dog was wearing her seatbelt and the police and EMTs were shocked that she was ok and didn’t fly through the windshield on impact. They could barely get my door open and I went to the hospital, but my dog was injury-free. I would recommend these without question to any dog owner!"