Dog Car Seat Selection: Safety & Comfort First
by Tudor Nikolas on Aug 24, 2023.
Owning a pet, particularly a dog, is like having an additional family member. Keeping them safe and secured during car travel, is important to prevent injuries, and that's exactly what a dog car seat is for.
From safety to comfort, a well-chosen dog car seat can make a significant difference in your pet's travel experience and prevent injuries.
Let's take a look at everything you might want to know about dog car seats and guide you through finding the right one.
Why Should You Get A Dog Car Seat?
The safety of your dog is the first and foremost concern.
A well-designed car seat will make sure that your dog stays in place and doesn't distract you when you're driving. Although this will be training dependent, some dogs may start moving around in the car if they are not used to being driven around.
If you have to make a sudden stop, or in the event of an accident, a good dog car seat can prevent injury both to your dog and anyone else in the car.
Although in the UK there is no specific requirement to have a dog car seat installed or to wear seat belt, it's good practice to ensure that your dog doesn't move around in the vehicle.
The UK Highway Code clearly states that dogs or other animals in the car should be suitably restrained so they cannot distract the driver or injure you or themselves if you stop quickly.
I am not aware of any countries that have a specific dog car seat requirement. The general consensus is that your dog must be transported in a safe way for everyone involved.
Mutual Benefits for Both Driver and the Dog
For drivers, a secure pet means fewer distractions and a safer driving experience. For pets, being secured in a specially designed seat provides stability and comfort, reducing stress.
Some dogs may in fact get stressed in the car; many factors such as sudden movement, breaking and the traffic nose can contribute to their anxiety.
What are the types of car dog seats available?
We can split the dog car seat selection into different types as in this table below.
|Booster Seat||Elevates the dog for a better view||Small to Medium Dogs|
|Hammock Style||Covers the entire back seat||Any Size, Multiple Dogs|
|Bucket Style||Contains the dog in a bucket-like shape. This is the best for securing your dog in place, especially if small breed.||Small to Medium Dogs|
|Crash-Tested Seats||Tested for safety in collisions (this would be an extra certification/ safety consideration that may apply to different types of seats)||All Sizes, Safety-Conscious|
How to choose the best dog car seat?
I've just listed a few attributes to look out for before you buy a car seat for your dog.
Check Size and Compatibility
Choosing the right size is crucial. Make sure the car seat is not too big or too small for your pet. It also needs to be compatible with your vehicle.
There's no point getting a large dog car seat for your front seat if it doesn't fit properly. This could actually slip down and cause more injury that way.
All car seats will give you their dimensions so go for one that will fit on either your front or back seat easily and securely.
Material and Durability
Look for materials that are both comfortable and durable.
Easy-to-clean/ water resistant fabrics, sturdy frames, and quality construction are important for safety and longevity of the chair.
Comfort and Design
The design should prioritise your dog's comfort, with padding, breathability, and ergonomic features.
A lot of seats these days actually provide a lot of padding on the sides as well.
If your dog is of the small variety, also consider your dog's needs, such as looking out the window, when selecting the design.
Extras like storage pockets, washable covers, or built-in leash clips can enhance the experience for both pet and owner.
Some dog car seats even have built in straps to even better secure your pooch.
What are the top dog car seat recommendations?
Selecting the best model requires a balance between features, quality, and budget.
Let's take a look at three popular models and see how they compare:
PetSafe Happy Ride
Adjustable, Crash-tested, Well secured, Acts as booster seat
Pricey for small dogs when compared to other available options
Kurgo Skybox Booster
Stylish, Easy to install
Small to medium dogs only
Snoozer Lookout II
Plush comfort, Storage
Small to medium dogs only
The PetSafe Happy Ride Dog Car Seat
This is our top choice because of its safety features.
It is suitable for cars, trucks and 4 x 4s as well.
It has a liner that is plushy and comfortable, but also washable as it can come off very easily.
In terms of safety, you can secure the dog seat to the car seat with their seat belt tether.
It also has a clip to secure your dog's collar to the seat.
This is helpful when looking out the window for example, or during sudden movements/ breaking as it stops them from falling out!
It's currently priced at £64.59 on Amazon, which is not cheap but it's a quality seat that should last for quite some time.
Kurgo Skybox Car Booster Seat for Dogs
This car booster seat for dogs is another great option, similar to the PetSafe brand.
The difference is that it's only really suitable for small dogs. After all, it is a booster seat!
As you can see, with the use of several straps, the seat is suspended to provide a better view for your little pooch.
It also comes with a seat belt tether and a strap to secure your dog's collar.
On the sides it has a storage compartment that you can use for treats or other accessories.
The lining is made from polyester so it's waterproof and washable.
You can buy it for £49 from Amazon.
TIP: This seat may also be a good option if you have a cat and want to elevate it to give it a better view!
Snoozer Lookout II
If you thought the PetSafe car seat was luxury, then this one is on another level.
It acts as both a safety car seat and a booster for your dog to see the world outside as you drive by.
It has brilliant reviews from customers that have had some of these seats for 10+ years and still use them today. The way it's built ensures the seat maintains its shape while providing a comfortable ride. This one definitely ticks our durability requirement.
This one currently costs £87-£148 from Snoozer. The price is dependent on the size you choose and whether you want to have the storage tray or not.
TIP: There are two options, one with a storage tray and one without. The storage tray can help you keep treats and accessories as it is way away from your dog.
A few safety considerations
In order to ensure the safety for everyone in the car, make sure you follow the instructions for securing the seat in place.
The required steps will vary depending on which seat you choose.
In addition, do not ignore the safety precautions often mentioned in the booklets either. Some of these may include:
- Overlooking the weight limit
- Not securing the seat properly
- Skipping the harness or leash attachment
What if your dog doesn't like the car seat?
Start with short trips and reward positive behaviour. You could even just practice with your dog getting in and out of the car and attaching him or her to the car seat (via the collar attachment), without going anywhere. This way they will get used to the procedure and be comfortable with sitting in a way that may be new to them.
If your dog still has anxiety or doesn't like getting into the seat in the car, you could try bringing it indoors for a few days.
This will give your dog plenty of time to decide whether he or she likes it or not!
So there was a whirlwind tour of a few different dog car seat options and what the main features are. If you liked out insights and wanted to read more of our dog related articles, take a look at our dog health blog.