Best Car Pet Barriers

Updated July 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
10 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
164 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best car pet barriers

Most pets hate to be left alone at home, so they’re happy to go for a ride when you run errands. But many animals get excited easily, and when that happens in the car it can pose a risk to them, you, and other drivers on the road. That’s why having a car pet barrier is essential.

A car pet barrier is a device that prevents your pet from moving around inside the car and potentially injuring itself. Most barriers block your animal from getting into the front seat from the back seat. The barrier also keeps your pet from distracting you while you’re driving, reducing your risk of an accident. Some pet barriers are easier to install than others, so you may want to leave yours permanently set up in your car.

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Some 60% of dog owners have been distracted by their pet while driving.

Key considerations

Type

When you’re shopping for a car pet barrier, you can choose from several types.

Mesh or net car pet barriers are large screens made of fabric. They attach to the sides of the front seats and span the gap between them, so your pet is contained in the back seat. These barriers are pretty easy to install, but they work best for small or more docile pets.

Metal car pet barriers are made of a series of metal bars that span the width of the vehicle, behind the front seat, to keep your pet in the back of the car. These are sturdier and more durable than mesh barriers but take longer to install. This type of barrier works well if you have a larger pet.

Hammock car pet barriers are designed to keep your pet in the back seat of the vehicle, but they also function as a seat cover to keep pet hair off the seat. They attach from the front seat to the back seat to create a bed your pet can lie on. These barriers work well for pets of all sizes.

Cargo car pet barriers are designed to keep your pet contained in the cargo area of your vehicle. They’re usually made of metal and work well in SUVs, minivans, and station wagons. These barriers work for pets of all sizes.

Reinforced fabric car pet barriers are made of waterproof, rip-resistant fabric that’s extremely durable. Most are easy to install, and you can often attach one in a few different ways. These work well for pets of all sizes.

Size

The size of a car pet barrier is crucial because it must fit your car and be large enough to contain your pet. Some barriers offer a universal fit, which means that they can work inside any vehicle. Other barriers only fit certain cars, and the manufacturer lists on the packaging the specific models the barrier can or can’t fit.

A car pet barrier with a universal fit is usually the best option because you never have to worry about it fitting your car. It also allows you to move the barrier between multiple vehicles without worrying about compatibility.

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Did You Know?
Metal car pet barriers that wedge between the seats have rubber caps on the ends of the bars to prevent damage to your car.
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Features

Installation

A car pet barrier should be easy to install and remove so you can quickly set it up and take it out as necessary. The easiest to install is a model with loops that stretch around the seats or hooks that attach to the passenger seat headrest, and this is a good option if you need to move the barrier from one vehicle to another.

Metal car pet barriers are the most difficult to install. One of these is best if you plan to leave the barrier in your car permanently.

Adjustability

If you plan to use your car pet barrier in more than one vehicle, choose an adjustable model. It can accommodate cars of various sizes and designs, so you can use the same barrier in your sedan as you do in your friend’s SUV.

Driver safety

When choosing a car pet barrier, it’s essential to consider whether it blocks the driver’s line of sight. To be safe, the barrier should be transparent, so you’re able to see clearly out of your rearview mirror.  Also avoid barriers that attach to the driver’s headrest, which can limit visibility and range of motion.

Storage

Some car pet barriers have pockets, so you can store items and keep them off the car’s floor. These can hold supplies for your pet like a leash and water bowl or just serve as a place to keep other car supplies, such as tissues and hand sanitizer.

Some smaller pets can figure out how to wiggle past a car barrier, so you might want to use a pet car seat or seat belt instead.

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Accessories

Dog seat belt: Mighty Paw Dog Vehicle Safety Belt
If you want to make sure that your dog is secure in the back seat even with a barrier in place, invest in a dog seat belt. This one from Mighty Paw is a favorite because it’s adjustable and features a rotating design to keep the belt from tangling.

Dog car seat: HDP Car Deluxe Lookout Booster Car Seat
A car pet barrier can keep your pet safely in the back seat, but you may also want your pet to have a comfortable place to sit. We love this dog car seat from HDP because it folds up for easy storage and allows your small dog to see out the window.

Car pet barrier prices

Car pet barriers vary in price depending on the type, material, and size. Most cost between $7 and $99.

Inexpensive: The most affordable car pet barriers are made of mesh or netting and are extremely easy to install. They aren’t very durable, so they work best for small or calm pets, but they’re an ideal option if you plan to move the barrier between cars. They typically range from $7 to $20.

Mid-range: These car pet barriers are usually made of fabric or reinforced fabric and are relatively easy to install. They’re a bit more durable than mesh barriers and easy to move between cars. They can work well for small to large pets, depending on how calm they are. These barriers typically cost between $16 and $40.

Expensive: The most expensive car pet barriers are extremely durable metal models that work well for large and excitable pets. They’re difficult to install and are best left in a car permanently. They typically cost between $35 and $99.

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Did You Know?
In addition to keeping your pets safe, some car pet barriers also keep pet hair and dander off your seats.
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Tips

  • Match the barrier to your pet. If you have a small, calm pet, nearly any car barrier will do. For larger dogs and excitable pets, make sure to choose a sturdy, durable barrier.
  • Follow the instructions. Installing a car pet barrier incorrectly can pose a danger to you and your pet, so make sure to follow the instructions carefully.
  • Get your pet used to the barrier. It might take some time for a pet to get used to a car barrier, so be patient. Start with short drives and gradually increase the duration until your pet is comfortable with the new arrangement.
  • Keep the windows closed. Even if your pet is secure in the back seat with a barrier, you shouldn’t leave the windows open. Your pet will likely be tempted to stick its head out the window and wind up with dirt and insects in its eyes.
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A car pet barrier can help protect your pet from serious injury if you’re in an accident.

FAQ

Q. Do car pet barriers work in all vehicles?

A. Car pet barriers are designed to fit a wide array of vehicles, including sedans, hatchbacks, crossovers, SUVs, vans, and station wagons. They don’t work well in soft-top convertibles.

Q. Will a car pet barrier damage my car?

A. A car pet barrier won’t do any damage to your car if you install it properly. Some large metal barriers that are intended to stay in the vehicle require professional installation to make sure they’re properly set up and won’t damage the vehicle.

Q. What type of pets require a barrier?

A. You can use a barrier for any pet that likes car rides but doesn’t sit still. Dogs are the most common, but you may want to use a barrier if you travel with your cat regularly, too.

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