For the most part, dogs love car rides. They love seeing new places, sticking their head out the window, and just generally tagging along with you wherever you go. Most dogs have an inexhaustible sense of adventure and there’s no better promise of adventure than the car.
Sometimes, though, car rides can be traumatic. Especially for small dogs, who don’t always feel secure in the car. Depending on your ride, they might not be able to see out the window, so the car is really just a loud, terrifying room they’re subjected to until you arrive at your destination.
Fortunately for those dogs, dog car seats allow them to ride safely in comfort. They also boost small dogs up enough so they can see out the window, while keeping them in one place so they don’t jump all over you while you drive. While larger dogs usually do a okay with hammocks and seat covers, the car seat is the way to go for smaller pups.
If you neglected to cover your seat before you let your dog into your car, check out our list of the top 30 best car cleaning kits, which includes some interior cleaning products to help you clean up after your pooch.
If your dog hates the car, consider our list of the top five best dog car seats to make rides more comfortable for them and you.
1. Kurgo Skybox Dog Booster Seat
This Kurgo unit is designed for elevation. Latching to the headrest in either the front or the back seat, this is meant to lift your dog well off the seat bottom for maximum height. The exterior is waterproof, while the liner is removable and machine washable. When not in use, the metal-supported structure can be folded down for storage. This is a bit on the smaller side, but can still support a relatively weighty pup.
Need more options? Browse more Kurgo products here.
- Side storage pockets
- Dogs up to 25 pounds
- Reversible and washable liner
- Collapsible for easy storage
- Dog may get tangled in the harness hook
- No color options
- Tricky installation means some users found that it constantly tilts
- Harness clip problematic for some
2. American Kennel Club Pet Booster Seat
For less than one-third the price of the one above, you can try this very simple dog car seat. It offers a single zippered pouch in the front, as well as a memory foam cushion, which is covered in synthetic lamb’s wool. Like the one above, this will sit high off the seat, giving your dog the best view. It’s also available in at least three colors (black, gray, and red), with a fourth possibly available (tan was not available at the time of this writing). Though it says it’s good for 20 pound dogs, this is a very small unit, so we’d keep it to ten pounds or less.
Need more options? Browse more American Kennel Club products here.
- Easy to clean
- Dogs up to 20 pounds
- Folds for easy storage
- Very small — weight limit may be optimistic
- Plastic clips on the cheap side
- Difficult to level
- Not much bottom support
3. K&H Manufacturing Bucket Booster Pet Seat
If you don’t like the idea of your dog being suspended off the seat, consider this booster-style option. It comes in two sizes — 16 inches square or 18 inches by 13 inches by 16 inches — and sits directly on the seat, removing the worry about your dog being too heavy. Obviously, you can’t put a 60-pound lab in it, but for small dogs of almost any breed, this should do the job. The back is contoured to fit snugly in most cars, and the interior is lined with quilted fleece for maximum comfort. The opening at the front makes it easy for your dog to get in and out. You can choose from gray or tan in both sizes. The included security leashes give you a place to attach your dog’s harness during travel. A solid option that should serve a wider range of dogs than the first two.
Need more options? Browse more K&H Manufacturing products here.
Price: $48.99 – 80.96 (19-52 percent off MSRP)
- Available in two sizes and two colors
- Washable cover
- Includes one or two adjustable leashes
- Weight not as much of a concern
- Not collapsible
- May not boost very small dogs quite enough
- Chewing dogs may eat through straps
- Seatbelt attachment could be sturdier
4. Snoozer Lookout II Pet Car Seat
If you’re looking for something with a bit of a higher-end design, the Lookout II might be the one for you. Available in a number of colors from blue to gray to hot pink, you can also get different textures like quilted and denim. The inside is lined with synthetic lamb’s wool sherpa for comfort, and the front flap hides a slide-out storage tray. This is also among the larger booster seats at 28 inches by 22 inches, and an overall height of 15 inches. (The smaller version measures 15 inches by 19 inches, while the medium size measures 22 inches by 19 inches.) It’s definitely pricier than the others, but if you have two dogs or a medium-sized breed, this might be the one for you.
Need more options? Browse more Snoozer products here.
- High-end option
- Plush sherpa lining
- Variety of fabric options
- Storage tray
- Takes up a lot of seat
- Some reviewers comment that the build quality doesn’t match price
- Not as soft as it appears
5. Pet Gear Bucket Seat Booster
Perhaps the soft-sided seats aren’t inspiring enough confidence. This plastic-framed booster should help you rest a bit easier. The rugged construction is more akin to a child’s car seat, and will keep your dog safe and secure. The overall height of this one is a bit shorter, so pick this if safety is the ultimate goal over having your dog be able to look out the window. You have two sizes to choose from with this model — a larger one with interior dimensions of 20 inches by 17 inches, and a smaller one with interior dimensions of 16 inches by 12 inches. Both are brown plastic, but you can choose between chocolate swirl or jaguar print liners.
Need more options? Browse more Pet Gear products here.
Price: $78.34 (6 percent off MSRP)
- Rugged plastic frame
- Installs easily
- Available in two sizes
- Four included tethers
- Limited color options
- Sides of the seat are hard
- Not particularly elegant-looking
- Shorter than other options