Updated June 2022
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Buying guide for best dog seat belts

Dogs are family members. That’s why keeping them safe is such a priority. If your dog enjoys car rides, you want to be sure he’s just as secure in his seat as any other passenger. A dog seat belt can grant you peace of mind while keeping your precious pooch safe and secure.

Most dog seat belts feature a full-body harness that fits around the dog and attaches to the car seat belt mechanism. The belt keeps the dog in place and restrains him if you suddenly change speed or collide in an accident. The design of a well-made dog seat belt distributes the force along the dog’s chest and back, minimizing his chance of a neck or head injury. Dog seat belts typically work best for medium and large dogs; small dogs are usually better off in a dog car seat or even a crate for car rides.

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In a car going 50 miles per hour, a dog who weighs 10 pounds can generate up to 500 pounds of force in a crash.

Key considerations

Type and attachment

There are two general types of dog seat belts: those that can connect to a harness and those that are already attached to a harness.

  • A seat belt that connects to a harness you already own is a great option if your dog is comfortable with his existing harness. Note, however, that not all seat belts are compatible with all harnesses.

  • A seat belt that comes with its own attached harness is ideal if you don’t use a separate harness to walk your dog. Note that a dog seat belt should never be attached to your dog’s collar, as this poses a choking hazard.

When it comes to how the dog seat belt connects to the car seat belt, there are several different attachment styles. 

Clip attachment: Some dog seat belts have a clip that fits into your car seat belt slot. They’re extremely easy to install, but they can come unclipped pretty easily if your dog moves around. If you go this route, be sure to choose a model that’s compatible with your car seat belt. If in doubt, note that there are some universal models that work with any car seat belt.  

Latch bar attachment: A dog seat belt with a latch bar attachment connects to a latch that is hidden in the crease of your car seat. This particularly secure attachment is ideal for hyper dogs who might unclip their seat belt, but it’s also more difficult to install. 

Tether attachment: A tether dog seat belt loops around the headrests of your car. It works especially well for dogs who are always trying to get into the front seat. However, this type of belt may not be compatible with all car seats and headrests.

Safety certification

To be sure that a dog seat belt meets key safety standards, it’s important to check for safety certifications. While there aren’t universal standards for pet restraints, the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) tests many dog seat belts and harnesses with crash-test dummy dogs to verify their safety. Products that meet their standards feature the CPS logo.


Material and construction

The most durable and secure dog seat belts are usually made of nylon or polyester. These materials are strong and don’t fray easily. Breathable materials can also help keep your dog cool and comfortable in warmer weather. 

Look for a seat belt that features reinforced stitching across the entire harness and/or belt. The area of the harness that comes into contact with your pooch should be soft so it doesn’t dig into your dog.

Ease of installation

If you want to be able to take Fido for a ride as soon as you remove the dog seat belt from its packaging, pay attention to how easy it is to install. Seat belt clip attachment belts are the easiest because you have only to clip them into your vehicle’s existing seat belt. It takes less than a minute if the belt is compatible with your car. 

Latch bar attachment belts typically require the most time to install. 

Size and movement

Getting the size right for a dog seat belt is vital because the belt needs to be tight enough to hold your dog in place but not so tight that it causes him discomfort. You don’t want your dog to be able to move around too much because that defeats the purpose of the belt. That said, he should have a little wiggle room to avoid feeling uncomfortable. 

Most manufacturers offer their seat belts in general sizes like extra-small, small, medium, large, and extra-large. You can usually find a chart that lists the recommended weight or breeds for each size.

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Did you know?
In New Jersey, pet owners are required to use a seat belt for any dog who’s not restrained in a crate.


If you have a puppy or young dog, chances are he’s still growing. To account for any fluctuations in weight, choose a dog seat belt that’s easy to adjust. If you can adjust the harness easily, you can make it as snug or loose as you need to fit your dog just right.


Some dog seat belts feature harnesses that you can also use to walk your dog. That makes the belt much more versatile and allows you to get more bang for your buck.

Machine washable

Like kids, dogs are prone to getting dirty, whether they’re rolling around in the dirt or enjoying their favorite treats. To make cleaning your seat belt easier, look for a model that’s machine washable so you can just toss it in the laundry when it’s dirty or stained.

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For your safety
In addition to posing a danger to your dog, leaving your pet unrestrained in a car can create a distraction for the driver.

Dog seat belt prices

Dog seat belts vary in price based on their type and attachment style. Most models range from $5 to $100. 

Inexpensive: The most affordable dog seat belts come without a harness. You’ll usually pay between $5 and $35 for these seat belts.

Mid-range: Mid-range dog seat belts typically include a harness and a clip or tether attachment. Expect to pay between $35 and $75 for a mid-range dog seat belt.

Expensive: The priciest dog seat belts include a harness and latch bar attachment. Many convert to allow you to use the harness to walk your dog. You’ll typically pay between $55 and $100 for this type of dog seat belt.

"Roughly 260,000 dogs are involved in car accidents each year. "


  • Adjust your dog’s seat belt before each ride to make sure that it fits him snugly enough to keep him safe.

  • Check your dog’s seat belt periodically to make sure that he hasn’t been chewing on it or that it’s frayed in any way. 

  • To avoid a choking hazard, don’t allow your dog to eat while he’s in the car. 

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It can take some time for a dog to get used to a seat belt. Practice putting it on and taking it off without going anywhere so he can get used to it.


Q. Am I legally required to have a seat belt for my dog?
A. In most areas, you’re not required to have a seat belt for your dog. However, you’re usually not allowed to let your dog ride in your lap when you’re driving. Check local laws and regulations to determine if there are any specific requirements for dog seat belts. 

Q. Is it safe to use a dog seat belt? 
A. Dog seat belts are meant to keep your dog safe, but there are some differences in quality. If you choose a well-made seat belt that fits your dog and attaches properly to your car, it should help prevent your dog from getting injured in the event of an accident or change of speed. 

Q. Where should my dog sit in the car?
A. Whether you have a seat belt for your dog or not, it’s best for him to ride in the backseat. The airbags in the front seat can be dangerous for your dog, and he could distract you if he rides beside you when you drive. 

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