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It’s officially road trip season, and no one is more excited to go for a car ride than your dog. Whether you’re planning a cross-country adventure or a weekend getaway, you’ll need the right gear. A squirming dog in the backseat is more than distracting for the driver — it’s super dangerous, too. “Car safety should be top of mind, so while a dog’s tongue slapping against their face in the wind is the picture of pure joy, keeping your pup contained in the car is a safer bet,” says certified dog behaviorist Lindsay Hamrick, CPDT-KA. “And don’t forget your dog’s ID — make sure their ID tag is up to date with your contact info and consider getting them microchipped so you can be contacted if they get lost and are brought to an animal shelter.”
Dog seatbelts, travel harnesses, backseat hammocks, and canine car seats are all good ways to contain your pet. Keep reading for our top picks — including crash-tested gear certified by the Center for Pet Safety — plus other essentials for hitting the road with your dog. The only thing left to do is decide where to go.
Btw, our editors (and their pets) picked out these products. They’re always in stock at the time we publish, but there’s a chance they’ll sell out. If you do buy through our links, we may earn a commission. (We’ve got a lot of toys to buy over here, you know?)
Ideal for medium and large dogs, this quilted hammock hooks onto the front and rear headrests so your pup can spread out comfortably in the back seat. The water-resistant cover keeps the seat clean from dirt and pet hair, and the mesh window allows you to keep an eye on them and for AC to reach them. More affordable dog hammocks are out there, but special touches like the no-slip backing and mesh paneling up front make the Orvis option a standout.
If you prefer an enclosed carrier, this bestselling option is designed for dogs up to 17 lbs. and works double duty for airplane and car travel. Lined with machine-washable bedding, the carrier is both comfy and crash-tested.
Taking your dog for a ride in the car doesn’t have to be a game of slip and slide in which your leather cushions aren’t coming away nearly as unscathed as your pup. Ensure your dog stays in one place with this secure harness that has proven its safety chops through vehicle crash tests. Compatible with the universal seat belt loop, this Ruffwear harness will get your pup ready for adventure.
This sturdy nylon dog seatbelt, which attaches to nearly all seatbelt receptacles, is a must for keeping your dog secure in the back seat. The other end fastens to your dog’s harness so they’ll stay put and stop trying to jump into your lap — as if merging onto the highway wasn’t stressful enough.
Been searching for a versatile pet carrier that isn’t the purse equivalent of the camel colored furniture monstrosities that are all too common in the search history of pet owners? These OWOW California quilted car seats will help your pet ride shotgun without the aggravation, keeping them secure and stylish.
A car seat that doubles as a carrier? Count us in for this two-in-one deal from millennial cult favorite company Maxbone. Its mellow slate gray color and soft memory foam boxy-yet-sleek shape combines the best of design with comfort and safety. Made with dirt resistant materials, its interior faux sheepskin pad is easily removable and washable incase of accidents in transit. Plus, your pup will have a bed to call home when you arrive at your final destination.
Just when we thought that Wild One had brought the practicality of pet parenthood to its peak, they’ve introduced a new product that adds a hands-free element to walks, trips to the dog park, and rides in the car. Made from 100 percent recycled materials, this treat pouch is the perfect place to stow all your goodies — especially if you have a stubborn pup who won’t set paw in the car without a little negotiation. It’ll make the reward of getting to your final destination all the more sweet when everyone arrives without a scratch.
You aren’t the only one who likes to feel the wind in your hair while cruising along the coast. If your pup can’t get enough of sticking their head out the window, these bug and debris-proof goggles could be the difference between a dry eye and a happy Red Baron-esque ensemble.
Pup gets carsick but can’t handle the strong stomach meds the doctor prescribes? That’s where this acupressure and aromatherapy nausea-preventing band comes in handy. It contains essential peppermint oil, so whenever your pup gives it a lick it’ll provide an extra dose of relief without any of the side effects of harsh medications. It works quickly to alleviate nausea that pets often experience in transit so you can ensure that your road trip goes smoothly.
This easily transportable car-compatible carrier is the solution to the dander and scratches that pervades the combination of pets and transport. Now, you can get your pup from point A to point B without having to drape a giant blanket over your leather seats and store a hand vacuum in the backseat to boot. Plus, it’s extremely spacious, features tons of ventilation, and can fit a few pets so you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
Not your average throw blanket, this machine washable one’s made with faux fur on one side and microsuede on the other, and it comes complete with a waterproof lining. Sure, it looks great on your couch, but it’s also perfect for keeping your pup comfortable and your car seats clean on road trips.
Hopefully you’ll never need it, but stash this pet first aid kit in your glove compartment just in case. The 50-piece set contains everything from sting-relief pads to tweezers to antiseptic to splint sticks, covering you for many common emergencies.
Feeding and hydrating your dog on the go is less messy affair with this collapsible food-grade silicone bowl. It’s available in small and large sizes, and folds flat for easy storage. While the attached carabiner is handy for clipping it onto tote bags and luggage, we recommend keeping an extra bowl in your glove compartment so you’re always prepared for impromptu hikes, trips to the dog park, and more.
If you’re looking to keep your pup hydrated during any excursion, look no further than Springer’s portable growler bottle. It’s as easy as squeezing the stylish bottle and releasing your pup’s water into the top, which doubles as a no-spill bowl. Once your dog has lapped up their share of hydration, the excess water drains back into the bottle, making it a perfect purchase for the environmental dog parent who is looking to cut back on their waste. Plus, it’s 100% leak-tight, made from BPA-free plastic, and includes a carabiner that allows for the bottle to easily clip onto your fanny pack for a hands free experience.
Frisco’s dog hammock is a more affordable but still well-reviewed version that’s made of quilted, water-resistant material. Bonus: It comes with handy storage pockets (perfect for poop bags or treats).
Liza Darwin is a writer and brand strategist. She has contributed to NYLON, Refinery29, Vogue, The Guardian, Vice, and Elle, and co-founded the news platform Clover Letter. She lives in Brooklyn with her two dogs, Montie and Hopper, and cat, Tiger.