According to American Automobile Association (AAA) study, only 16 percent of pet owners use some type of car restraint system for their dogs. In another survey, owners admitted to having the dog in their lap, playing and giving treats – all while driving. What many don't realize is how dangerous this practice is.
When your car is moving at about 50 mph, and you have your 10-pound unrestrained pooch in there, during a sudden break or crash, the dog with be thrown forward, exerting approx. 500 lbs of force. An 80-pound large dog will exert approx. 2,400 lbs of force at only 30 mph speed. This could be a deadly situation for both you and your pet.
Experts warn dog owners how crucial it is to use some type of restraint system in a vehicle. There are several options available, but currently, the best two are travel carriers (secured with seat belts) and car seats for dogs (or booster seats). However, even then, not all dog car seats are equal, and some are better and safer than others, especially if they have been crash-tested.
Over the years, we've done a number of dog car seat reviews on Top Dog Tips, testing and trying them with our dogs. Below are some of the best car seats for dogs that will keep your dog secured and comfy.
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More Reasons to Use Dog Car Seats
After evaluating motor vehicle risks, a study in 2013 has concluded that people who drive with pets in their cars are much more likely to get into motor accidents than those who drive without them.
In 2009 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a statistic that almost 6,000 people were killed and 450,000 people were injured in accidents caused by distracted drivers, with pets being one of the causes of such distractions, advising people to further secure their animals in cars.
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is right there with these agencies, encouraging dog owners to find ways to secure their dogs and cats to prevent potential deaths: “An unrestrained pet can be hugely distracting — if he is seeking your attention, putting his face right in front of yours, starts chewing up the upholstery or is vomiting because he is carsick.”
Other Alternatives to Best Car Seats for Dogs
Most consider a dog car seat to be a good compromise between owners and their pets who may be unhappy when they're not allowed to ride with their head sticking out of the window. The reason being is because dog booster seats keep your pet at an elevated level, allowing to see the surroundings.
If you're looking for something else, then one of the most popular alternatives to booster dog car seats are pet car harnesses, also known as car seat belts for dogs. They're easy to strap onto your dog and then attach the canine to the car's seat. However, it doesn't prevent sliding completely like a dog car seat would.
Another way to secure your dog in a car is by using travel crates that can be attached to car seats to prevent sliding and car barriers for not letting your pup jump into the front seat. Overall, this is probably one of the best options for those who will use a dog crate once they arrive at the location, as well as for dogs who cannot be restrained into the best dog booster seat.
What about large dogs? While most of these best car seats for dogs are for small to medium sized dogs, recently, companies started manufacturing large booster seats to accommodate big dogs or two dogs.
Whichever option you decide to pick for your dog and your car, the most important thing is that you pick something and secure your pet while traveling. While 99% of the time nothing will happen, that 1% when you do get into an accident may change your life or your dog's life. Securing a dog takes only a minute, so here are the five best car seats for dogs that we like the most.
The Best Car Seats for Dogs
1Lookout II Pet Car Seat
- Large size: dogs up to 40 lbs
- Medium size: dogs up to 25 lbs
- Small size: dogs up to 15 lbs
Snoozer, alongside the below mentioned K&H, have been the leading manufacturers of most well-designed, safety testing passed dog seats for cars. These two companies and their dog car seats have been receiving a ton of attention from the owners and the canine community as one of the safest and easiest ways to secure pets in vehicles.
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Snoozer's Lookout ranks as the first among best car seats for dogs because it's made out of comfortable and warm simulated lamb's wool interior and foam form. These are also available in multiple different designs and fabric options for the picky dog owner. They have recently released their deluxe option as Snoozer Luxury Lookout dog seat, which takes the foundation of their original item and improves on the design and style of it.
In terms of weight, Lookout II pet car seats can support dogs anywhere from 4 lbs up to 40 lbs worth of dog, or about two dogs of 20 lbs. Many customers who purchased this dog product have reported to be able to fit two 18-20 pound dogs easily, and have them stretch out in the dog car seat comfortable.
The measurements for this seat are approximately 8″ height x 22″ length x 13″ width. Booster seat itself only weighs about 7 lbs, it's cover is machine-washable and very easy to put back on. Other customers on Amazon seem to be praising this car seat's size.
2Bucket Booster Pet Car Seat
- Small size: dogs up to 10 lbs
- Large size: dogs up to 30 lbs
The second choice among the best car seats for dogs is K&H's Bucket booster pet car seat, another very popular option. Let's begin by saying that at the time of this writing, K&H is one of the most respected manufacturer of car-dog supplies, and their dog car seat has a perfect review ratio on Amazon.
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Their Bucket booster car seats for dogs are available in two sizes, small and large. Small one is truly small, and will only be good for toy dog breeds. If you have a dog of 10 lbs and above, it's advisable to go for the large size just to leave some wiggle room for the dog. You can also choose between two colors.
This booster dog car seat is elevated, allowing your pet to look through windows with more ease. The seat is perfect for either front or the back, and many dog owners have noted its sturdiness and strong build. If you buy the right size, the seat can be very roomy and you shouldn't have any problems with attaching to the seat belts.
The primary selling point of K&H's best car seats for dogs is safety, and on this scale, many dog owners have rated this pet car seat very highly. However, if you're looking for a dog car seat that will allow your pooch to really be raised in the car, this might not be the seat for you, as the below review has already noted.
3 Lookout I Pet Car Seat
- Small size: dogs up to 10 lbs
- Medium size: dogs up to 20 lbs
As I mentioned above, Snoozer are one of the most well-known manufacturers of high quality dog beds and best car seats for dogs. They're not the cheapest, and the company does not put a lot of imagination in coming up with names for their dog car seats, but it seems that's because they keep all of their creativity for actually designing the products like their Lookout series.
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This Snoozer Lookout I (the older version of above mentioned Lookout II) is still one of the best dog car seats to this day, and all of Snoozer's dog car seats are commonly purchased by pet owners and are one of the top rated booster seats on Amazon with a high star ratings. The reason for this dog car seat's popularity is its comfortable foam padding made out of simulated lamb's wool.
What dog owners will love is the variety of colors, fabric options and designs that Snoozer Lookout car dog seat comes in (they currently have 10 different designs, all comfy looking). For protection, there's a strap provided for car's seat belt to join the harness. In terms of sizes, they only have two (small and medium), and the medium dog car seat will support any pooch up to 25 lbs.
Most of Snoozer's pet seats are considered of premium quality and may not be affordable for every pet owner. However, in terms of price-to-value ratio, their car-dog supplies are worth the price tag, especially for the winter or other cooler times because of the insulation they provide to the dog through their wool materials. Other customers seem to love this dog booster seats.
4 Skybox Doggy Booster Seat
- Medium size: dogs up to 20 lbs
Kurgo Skybox dog seat is listed as number four on our list of best car seats for dogs, but this is one of the most popular restraint systems pet owners often buy on Amazon and, from the reviews at the time of this writing, to great satisfaction. It's most suited for small to medium dogs up to 20 lbs, although 20 pound dog would be exact fit with little to no room left. Ideally, you should get this for dogs up to 16-18 lbs where they still have a tiny bit of wiggle room left.
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Kurgo dog car seat seems to be one of the most stylish on this list, and you have four different designs to choose from, all of which are very modern looking. Note that all of these car seats for dogs are of the same size, and will support pets up to 30 lbs only.
Kurgo's Skybox dog booster seat can be used in front or back seats, and has an adjustable dog seat belt which you can attach to any kind of dog harness, if needed. Aside from the stylish designs, one of the great features of this dog car seat is the fact that it's collapsible.
When you don't need to use the seat, simply fold it and put it away somewhere in your car. It's also machine-washable, which is always convenient. While with our testing, we particularly liked the design and comfort of this seat, other pet owners' reviews on Amazon are also praising the safety of this dog car seat.
5 Tagalong Pet Booster Seat Deluxe
- Large size: dogs up to 18 lbs
- Extra Large size: dogs up to 25 lbs
- Jumbo size: dogs up to 30 lbs
Solvit Tagalong pet booster dog car seat is a popular option among dog owners that you can purchase in three different sizes – Large, Extra Large and Jumbo size. However, it's important to clarify that Solvit's dog seat sizes do not fall in lines with most other best dog car seats mentioned above. Here's why.
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Their large size (smallest size) can fit a dog up to 18 lbs, which is closer to medium in standard measurements. Their Extra Large size can fit dogs up to 25 lbs, which is more like regular large size. And their biggest car seats for dogs, the Jumbo size, can fit a dog up to 30 lbs in weight which isn't that far from the general large size.
The construction of Solvit's dog booster seat isn't as sturdy or stylish as the above mentioned, but it has it's advantages too. For example, it's good because of the supporting seat from below. This dog car seat allows your pooch for unobstructed view when inside the booster seat without using any straps whatsoever.
You can use this dog seat either in the front or the back, and there's a special attachment for your headrest to secure the seat properly around it (safety leash is included with this dog car seat). Overall, customer response seems to be very positive about this booster car seat. Beware though, because some dog owners who purchases these best car seats for dogs from Solvit have found them to be unsafe. The below review in particular expands on how and why this booster dog car seat can become dangerous to your dog.
10 Cheap Dog Car Seats as Alternatives
The above list of best car seats for dogs lists five products which we liked the most after testing them with our dogs. They're of high quality and have stylish designs. However, those five pet seats for cars are also some of the most expensive you'll find. If none of the above five dog car seats are affordable to you, below are ten top rated alternative best dog car seats for dog owners on a budget.
6. Pet Gear Booster Car Seat(large size: dogs up to 35 lbs; medium size: dogs up to 20 lbs) – This dog booster seat from Pet Gear has one of the thickest foam padding for extra level of comforts for dogs. It could easily be on the top list as one of the best car seats for dogs due to its ease of use and the fact that it also comes with two harness attachments, saving you a bit of extra money.
7. Snoozer Console Lookout (large size: dogs up to 12 lbs; small size: dogs up to 7 lbs) – Yet another dog car seat from Snoozer, as they have a large variety of offerings. This one is much smaller than the above two mentioned, because even the largest size will fit only a bigger “small” dog. Nevertheless, it may be a more affordable option and their huge range of styles and colors makes it something to consider.
8. Petsfit Booster Seat(one size: dogs up to 15 lbs) – Petsfit is another company garnering great reputation among pet owners as their booster seats for dogs have proven to be comfortable and sturdy for most canines. The problem is that they don't offer any seats for dogs larger than 15 pounds. The design is pretty conservative, but the mesh filling is comfortable for dogs and it's machine-washable.
9. Kurgo Rover Dog Booster Seat(one size: dogs up to 30 lbs) – This is Kurgo's newly released booster seat for cars which is yet to be properly acknowledge by pet owners, but seems like a great seat for the price. It comes with a secure seat belt, in a simple yet easy-to-install design and is machine-washable. Like with all other Kurgo products, you get a lifetime warranty on this dog car seat.
10.Pet Car Seat Carrier for Dog (small size: dogs up to 15 lbs; large size: dogs up to 20 lbs) – The reason I include this dog car seat carrier is because it's great for mobility: very easy to breakdown and fold, and you can kind of use it as an uncomfortable dog crate and carrier. However, as a dog car seat itself, it falls short on many parameters, including sturdiness and comfort. It should be cheaper.
11. Cozy Boost Pet Booster Seat(one size: dogs up to 12 lbs) – This is a new manufacturer of dog car seats and their one size small pet booster seat seems a good option as an alternative. It gets some points for being mobile, easy to convert and fold. However, for small dogs and this price, a better option would be the Kurgo's Skybox car seat, which costs the same but is significantly superior.
12. Tagalong Pet Booster Seat(small size: dogs up to 12 lbs; medium size: dogs up to 18 lbs; large size: dogs up to 25 lbs) – This cheap dog booster seat for cars is easily the best one in this price range. It comes from the well-established manufacturer with great reputation, Solvit, and has all the main and basic aspects of a decent dog car seat that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. It's the most popular cheap dog seat, too.
13. Outward Hound PupBoost Car Seat(small size: dogs up to 10 lbs; large size: dogs up to 20 lbs) – Outward Hound is a known dog toy manufacturer, but their dog car seats need work. This seat is one of the cheapest pet owners can find, but as a result of this lower price tag, its construction and the overall design seemed to have suffered. The main problem is the lack of padding and sturdiness.
14. WOpet Deluxe Portable Pet Car Seat(one size: dogs up to 30 lbs) – Another new and fairly unknown pet supplies manufacturer, they seemed to have released a decent cheap dog booster seat for the price. It's not as sturdy, and the design could be improved, but for short trips and if using for small dogs that don't overpower the seat's walls, this could be a decent option.
15. American Kennel Club Pet Booster Seat(one size: dogs up to 20 lbs) – The absolute cheapest dog booster seat, AKC's option is popular among pet owners, likely due to its lower price tag; however, the whole design of this dog car seat leaves much to be desired. Constructed more like a backpack for cars rather than an actual seat, it lacks in sturdiness, padding and comfort, but is worth the low price.
The above ten best car seats for dogs may not be the first choice for most pet owners, yet they still remain a great option for those on the budget. They're cheaper than our top five picks but provide essentially the same thing. The main difference between these and more expensive dog car seats is the material used and their design, resulting in potentially slightly less comfort and not a stylish look.
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