Dog in a car.
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The Best Dog Seat Belts on the Market

The average dog checklist probably includes some of the following basics: a dog bed, food, leash and harness, poop bags, and tag. But these lists are missing a very important safety device that all dogs need: a seatbelt.

Chances are your dog will ride in a car at some point. Whether your furry friend is raised in the country, suburbs, or the city, they’ve probably hopped into the backseat of a car, truck, or even taxi. Regardless of whether we’re talking about a quick 30 minute trip to the vet or a road trip to visit family and friends, a seat belt is necessary.

Luckily for humans, cars have an alarm that is activated when we forget to fasten our seat belts. Unfortunately, there’s no such alert for our canine companions. It’s up to us to ensure their safety, and with so many safety-rated dog seat belts and harnesses on the market, there’s no excuse for putting your dog at risk. Better safe than sorry!

Here’s the low down on dog seat belts.

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The great American road trip just got better! Your dog is coming along for the ride.

Why do dogs need seat belts?

Keeping your dog safe and secure in your vehicle should be a priority, whether you’re planning to be in the car for 10 minutes or 10 hours.

In some states, it’s even a law: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Minnesota all have laws on the books that prohibit driving with an unrestrained dog in your vehicle.

So why do dogs need to use seat belts? Even though car rides are often a joyous occasion for dogs, there are frightening scenarios to keep in mind should you not keep them protected. If you’re unaware of the dangers that riding in cars present to unrestrained dogs and their drivers, then here are a few reasons why dog seat belts are necessary:

  • An unrestrained dog can leap out of an open window while you’re driving.
  • A loose dog can be a dangerous distraction to the driver.
  • Dogs with paws, heads, or bodies hanging out of the window can be injured by external debris.
  • An unrestrained dog turns into a dangerous projectile during a collision.
  • A deployed airbag can seriously injure or even kill a dog sitting in the front seat.
  • A tether, like a leash or piece of rope, is not enough – even when attached to a collar or normal harness, they can cause serious injury to your dog in the event of a crash or sudden stop.

Reminder: You should always buckle your pet into the rear seat, just like you would a child under 95 pounds, to better ensure their safety. No sitting up front!

Dog on Car

What to consider when choosing a seat belt for dogs

An effective dog seat belt should do two things: maintain your dog’s stability in the car and restrain their movement. Besides that, you want it to be comfortable for your dog and made using quality materials. There are plenty of options on the market, but here are a few extra things to keep in mind when choosing a seat belt for your dog.

Fit

In order for the dog seat belt to be effective, it has to fit your dog properly. That means it won’t be loose enough for your dog to squirm around in and get loose, or tight enough to cut off circulation or cause skin indentation.

Be sure to review size charts, and fit recommendations, and to try on the product before buying – and if you can’t, make sure they have a return policy! If your dog is in between sizes, it’s typically best to size up so you can tighten the straps to fit.

Dog Size

If you get your dog when they’re a puppy, they’re going to need a seat belt right away, but they’re also going to grow. This may require multiple sizes. The same is true if you foster dogs or dog sit – you want to make sure that all of the dogs in your squad are safe.

If this is the case, consider getting a few different sizes. Buying used, well cared for items are a good option if you’re on a budget; you can peruse Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to find secondhand items. Or, purchase new and re-sell or donate when your dog grows out of it or you no longer need it.

Vehicle

The seat belt has to not only fit your dog, but your vehicle too. Be sure that whatever model you get is appropriate for your car.

Safety Rating

We’ve come a long way when it comes to car safety, and there are standard safety regulations for humans of all sizes. But sadly, those requirements haven’t expanded to include dogs yet.

Not to worry though, some safety oriented folks have stepped in to produce third-party consumer reports and product tests.

The Center for Pet Safety (CPS), a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit safety science organization dedicated to consumer and companion animal safety, has tested and reviewed products so that dog owners can make informed and safe decisions.

That’s something to wag your tail about!

Dog in a car.

Dog Seat Belt Alternatives: Can I use a booster seat, carrier, tether, or crate?

Pet Carrier

Pet Carriers are great for pets on the go, and some even do well in the car. Two small-dog carrier brands made the cut for safety in a crash testing done by CPS. Scroll down to learn more.

Booster Seats

Many small dog owners flock towards booster seats when looking to secure their dogs in the car. I can understand the appeal – booster seats are often designed to be stylish and super comfortable, almost like a cozy dog bed in the car. But the truth is, they’re not really a safe or secure option for your dog.

When the testers at the Center for Pet Safety did studies on dog booster seats in 2015, they found that not a single one of the pet booster seats for small dogs performed well during an impact.

Tethers

The Center for Pet Safety found that harness extension tethers actually violate passenger safety principals and negate crashworthiness claims. Uh oh!

In their research, they compiled reports of pets restrained with extension tethers during a crash or sudden stop, and some suffered from paralysis and blunt force trauma. In some cases, their spine had been damaged so severely that their internal organs could no longer function and the dog had to be humanely euthanized.  

Final verdict: don’t use tethers to restrain your dog in the car.

Kennel or Crate

Kennels or crates are a great option for larger dogs. They’re a reliable way to restrain them and keep them from roaming the car or taking up extra space. Plus, a dog confined to a kennel or crate helps keep your car clean.

For large dogs using a crate or kennel, CPS gives a thumbs up to travel crates made by Gunner and Luckydog.

Scroll down to learn more.

Getting your dog accustomed to a dog seat belt

Your dog might initially find their dog seat belt uncomfortable, regardless of whether they’re a puppy or an adult dog in a car restraint for the first time. It’s understandable that they won’t want their movement restricted – what dog doesn’t want to roam the car, stick their head out the window, or sit on your lap while you drive?

But it’s best, and ultimately safest, to use a dog seat belt each and every time your dog is in the car, whether it’s a short ride or a longer trip.

Putting a seat belt on your dog will eventually become second nature any time you’re going for a ride. Here are some tips on how to introduce a dog seat belt to your dog;

  • Introduce the seat belt gradually while at home, and before your dog even enters a car.
  • Associate the seat belt with something positive, like a favorite toy or treat.
  • Introductory sessions should involve plenty of praise.
  • Use the seat belt for quick, short rides to start, before embarking on longer trips.
Dog and woman in car.

The best seat belt harnesses for your dog

Many dog owners believe that any dog harness attached to their car’s existing seat belt strap will be enough when it comes to car safety, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Regular dog harnesses are not heavy-duty enough to provide protection, and can’t be depended upon to keep your dog safe. A well-designed dog harness, specifically with car safety in mind, is what’s needed.

Here’s a list of the best dog seat belt options on the market. All of the products listed were crash test certified and received five star ratings from the Center for Pet Safety.

Sleepypod Clickit Sport

Sleepypod Clickit Sport
©Sleepypod
  • Sizes Available: S to XL
  • Weight/Girth Capacity: For dogs from 18 to 90 pounds.
  • Vehicle Compatibility: Cars with rear passenger seat belts.

The Sleepypod Clickit Sport is a safety harness for the car and a harness for everyday use all-in-one. Their patented design reduces and distributes harmful forces in the event of a collision. It includes an Infinity Loop webbing design, in combination with a padded vest, seat belt grade straps, and stress tested buckles. All of this works together to distribute and reduce damaging forces that can cause injury in a car collision.

The step-in-style harness is easy to use, and is installed by threading the seat belt through the back straps, which allows the dog to comfortably sit, stand, or lie down. 

The Clickit Sport was rigorously tested according to the same dynamic crash testing protocols used in U.S., Canadian, and E.U. child safety restraint standards. It’s proven to be one of the safest dog safety harnesses available. 

It’s certified by the Center for Pet Safety for dogs from 18 to 90 pounds and comes in four sizes and multiple colors.

Please note: this harness is not suited for Greyhounds, Whippets, Salukis, Afghan Hounds, or Borzois.

Sleepypod Clickit Terrain

Clickit Terrain
©Sleepypod
  • Sizes Available: S to XL
  • Weight/Girth Capacity: For dogs from 18 to 110 pounds.
  • Vehicle Compatibility: Cars with rear passenger seat belts.

The Sleepypod Clickit Terrain is similar to the Sport, but it’s designed specifically for high-performance dogs, like working and service dogs.

It sells at a similar price point to the Clickit Sport but it has a few upgraded features. These include shock absorbing sleeves, removable velcro patches that can be switched out for service or personalized patches, and extra padding for all-day comfort.

No additional accessories or straps needed. It only requires the seat belt in the rear seat of the vehicle. 

Like the Sleepypod Clickit Sport, the Sleepypod Clickit Terrain is certified by the Center for Pet Safety for dogs from 18 to 110 pounds.

Please note: this harness is not suited for Greyhounds, Whippets, Salukis, Afghan Hounds, and Borzois.

Crash test.
©CPS

The Sleepypod Clickit Sport vs the Sleepypod Clickit Terrain:

For those deciding between the two Sleepypod harnesses, here’s some additional information to consider. The main differences between the two are related to the weight certification, fit, and features. 

The Clickit Sport is more flexible and lightweight, with a wider range of adjustment that typically suits a wider range of dogs. Clickit Terrain is a bit more structured and heavy duty, with additional padding and optional accessory add ons like service patches or the Terrain Pack.

ZuGoPet The Rocketeer Pack

ZuGoPet The Rocketeer Pack
©ZuGoPet
  • Sizes Available: XS to XL
  • Weight/Girth Capacity: Up to 25 lb.
  • Vehicle Compatibility: Cars with baby-seat connectors

When ZuGoPet set out to make their dog harness, the designer worked with a Veterinary Orthopedic Surgeon during their early product development stages. This proactive approach made all the difference in ensuring they created a product that was safe, secure, and comfortable.

They invented the Rocketeer Pack, a patented dog harness custom-designed to protect small dogs 25lbs and under in case of a car accident. This harness is unique in that it keeps your small dog in a suspended, upright position, sort of like a baby carrier. It was originally designed for dogs with knee and hip issues, but works for all pint-sized pups.

The Rocketeer Pack was awarded a 5-star safety rating from the Center for Pet Safety. It requires baby car-seat connectors to install correctly, so check your vehicle to make sure that these are available. The company recommends giving your dog a break to stretch its legs and do its business every 90 minutes.

Bonus: it comes with backpack / front-pack straps so you can use it as a dog carrier while on the go.

The best pet carrier car seats for your dog

If you’re traveling with a small dog that’s less than 17-18 pounds, a pet carrier might be more suitable for you. Small dogs tends to have more fragile bone structure, so they’re better protected in a carrier in the event of a collision.

Here are a few options that have been crash tested and approved.

Away Pet Carrier

Away Pet Carrier
©Away
  • Sizes Available: One size (18.7″ x 10.8″ x 10.75″)
  • Weight/Girth Capacity: Up to 18 lb
  • Vehicle Compatibility: Fasten to a car seat belt.

The Away Pet Carrier is perfect for dogs on the go, whether you’re traveling by plane, train, car, or foot. It meets Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements, and is certified by the Center for Pet Safety.

The Pet Carrier features removable, washable, plush sherpa bedding, water-resistant lining, and a safety collar clip to prevent quick pet escapes when opening. It has latches that can fasten to a car seat belt and a side pocket with waterproof lining and drainage holes (for storing a collapsible water bowl).

Diggs Passenger Carrier

Diggs Passenger Carrier
©Diggs
  • Sizes Available: One size (20″ x 10.8″ x 11.5″)
  • Weight/Girth Capacity: Up to 18 lb
  • Vehicle Compatibility: Custom seat belt clips and a buckle strap.

Digg’s patent pending design is an all-in-one pet carrier, made for dogs traveling by plane, train, car, or foot. It was designed with a safety-first approach, and went through intensive crash testing. The Passenger successfully passed the Center for Pet Safety certification testing and received a five-star rating.

What makes this pet carrier different is that it’s the first travel carrier designed for quick and clean waste management on the go. Clean-up is a breeze thanks to their innovative waste management solution: attach a pee pad to the included bed, then open the side panel to swap it out without disrupting your pet.

With pet-focused features and people-friendly details, Passenger is a great option for small dogs.

Sleepypod Carriers

Three* different Sleepypod carriers passed the Center for Pet Safety crash test with five star ratings – Sleepypod Atom, Sleepypod Mini with PPRS Handilock, and the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed with PPRS Handilock.

Sleepypod Atom

Sleepypod Atom Carrier
©Sleepypod
  • Sizes Available: One size (exterior dimensions in inches: 10.5”H x 8.5”W x 17”L)
  • Weight/Girth Capacity: For pets 12 lbs / 5.5kg or less.
  • Vehicle Compatibility: Seatbelt straps on two sides.

Sleepypod Atom is a petite carrier meant for small dogs traveling by car, plane, or train. It was certified by the Center for Pet Safety for pets less than 12 pounds.

Besides being ergonomic and sleek, the Sleepypod Atom comes with tons of luxuirous features that will make your dog sigh with comfort. They include a secure and durable mesh panel positioned on three sides for better ventilation; luxurious, plush bedding that is removable for easy cleaning; and top and side entries that allow for convenient access.

Seatbelt straps on two sides transform the Sleepypod Atom into a safe car seat, meaning you can take your dog from the plane to the car without switching carriers.

Keep in mind that during car travel your pet should be fully enclosed to ensure safety.

Sleepypod Mini with PPRS Handilock

Sleepypod Mini
©Sleepypod
  • Sizes Available: One size (13″ diameter x 5 height”)
  • Weight/Girth Capacity: For pets 7 pounds or less.
  • Vehicle Compatibility: PPRS Handilock secures top velcro handle to seat belt.

This beautiful mini carrier is like a dog bed you can take on the go. Use it as a pet bed at home, then zip on the lid to transform the bed into a carrier or crash tested car seat. Your dog won’t have to be bothered, and their stress levels will stay way down thanks to their cozy bed. Just don’t tell them it’s mobile!

Transforming it from carrier to car seat is easy: buckle in the Sleepypod mobile pet bed using velcro positioning points that secure the seat belt around the carrier. The PPRS Handilock on top and velcro straps ensure the latch is secure. 

It was certified by the Center for Pet Safety for pets seven pounds and under. 

Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed with PPRS Handilock

Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed
©Sleepypod
  • Sizes Available: One size (17″ diameter x 6.5 height”)
  • Weight/Girth Capacity: For pets 15 pounds or less.
  • Vehicle Compatibility: Seatbelt straps allow Sleepypod Mini to be safely secured in a car seat.

The Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed is a transformative pet bed, carrier and car seat, all in one. It has the same great features and style of the mini, but is larger to fit dogs up to 15 pounds.

The idea behind the Sleepypod mobile pet bed and it’s rounded shape is to allow dogs to travel safely in the comfort of their own bed, thereby reducing travel-related stress. Your dog won’t associate travel with negative experiences if they’re in a cozy bed!

To transform the crash-tested Sleepypod into a car seat, use the velcro positioning points to secure the seat belt in place. It’s that easy.

It was certified by the Center for Pet Safety for pets 15 pounds and under.

*The Sleepypod Air also passed, but with only 4 stars, so we did not include it in this list.

The best pet kennels or crates for your dog

Larger dogs and/or working dogs may benefit from a pet kennel or crate when traveling in vehicles. There are two that passed the Center for Pet Safety crash tests with five stars.

Gunner Kennel G1

GUNNER kennel.
©GUNNER
  • Sizes Available: There are four sizes available: small, medium, intermediate, and large.
  • Vehicle Compatibility: The Gunner Tie-Down Strap kit secures the kennel from four corners.

Please note: The Small, Medium, and Intermediate sizes are 5 Star Crash Test certified by the Center For Pet Safety with our crash-tested straps.

Addison Edmonds, the founder of Gunner, was inspired to design this crate after he got tired of traveling with his dog Gunner in traditional plastic crates – they were unsafe and he soon got tired of replacing flimsy ones year after year. 

Gunner Kennels are popular with outdoor enthusiasts and are designed to last forever, literally – they come with a lifetime warranty. They’re super sturdy and include plenty of reinforcements that keep dogs safe in an impact. They also have extra features like back up safety latches, heavy duty door frames, and escape proof doors.

They’re made in the United States using high quality materials, and will set you back quite a bit – prices start at $499. If you’re going to be driving a lot with your dog, and you want a good quality kennel that’ll last, then it’s a worthwhile investment.

Lucky Duck Kennel

Lucky Duck Kennel
©Lucky Duck
  • Sizes Available: There are two sizes available: intermediate and large.
  • Weight/Girth Capacity: For use with up to a 110 lb. dog.
  • Vehicle Compatibility: Integrated powder coated tie downs.

Like Gunner, Luckydog holds a 5 Star Crash Test Rating from the Center For Pet Safety, comes with a lifetime warranty, and is proudly made in the United States. Their patented design is durable yet lightweight, and has a locking paddle latch that will keep your dog safe. And it only requires one hand for opening.

Other features include ventilation holes to keep your dog cool on hot days, and an elevated floor above drain channels on each side of the kennel that run water away from your dog. Prices start at $599.

Learn more about road trips with your dog here.


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Chances are your dog will ride in a car at some point, and they'll need a dog seat belt that's been proven to keep them safe.

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