If you’re one of the many pet owners who enjoy traveling and taking off on road trips with your furry friend, you’ll need a high-quality travel crate for your pet.
So, is it safe to travel without your dog in a crate? Can you put your pet in the trunk of your car? And what are crash-tested dog crates?
Keep reading for the answers to those questions and for our reviews of the best dog crates and carriers for car travel that you can find on the current market.
Comparison Table of the 9 Best Dog Crates and Carriers For Car Travel
Diggs Revol Dog Crate
- Exceptional quality
- Foldable for convenient storage
- Excellent ventilation for your pet’s comfort
Petmate Sky Kennel Pet Carrier
- Perfect for dogs up to 30 pounds
- Excellent quality
Aspen Pet Porter Kennel
- Airline-approved by most major airlines
- Wide range of sizes
- Strong metal and plastic construction
Ellie-Bo Sloping Puppy Cage
- Fits most cars
- Folds flat for easy storage and portability
- Easy to clean
Ferplast Atlas 30 EI Cat And Dog Carrier
- Perfect for car travel
- Strong, high-quality build
- Escape-proof crate
MidWest iCrate Double Door Collapsible Wire Dog Crate Kit
- Sturdy mesh build
- Features a push-lock to keep your dog safely contained
- Heavy-duty construction
Zinger Winger PR4000
- Lightweight aluminum construction
- Flush-mounted slam latch
- Silver hammer powder coating for a smart, resilient finish
Pet Mate 21859 Vari Kennel
- Robust, strong build
- Escape-proof door latch
- Superb quality
Amazon Basics Two-Door Top-Load Hard-Sided Pet Travel Carrier
- Strong, sturdy travel crate
- Reasonably priced
- Suitable for home use and training, too
Why Should A Dog Be In A Crate In The Car?
There are several reasons why your dog should always be transported in a crate when riding in your car.
Safety For You And For Your Pet
Perhaps the most important reason for carrying your dog in a crate when he’s riding with you in your vehicle is safety.
If you have to brake suddenly, or in the event of an auto accident, if your pet is not restrained, he could be severely injured or even killed. Also, if your car comes to a sudden, abrupt stop or if you’re traveling on very bumpy roads and your dog is loose on the back seat, he will be flung forward, potentially injuring you or your passenger.
However, if your dog is safely contained in a crate or is wearing a special travel harness that attaches to seat belts, he is much more likely to survive an accident unharmed.
Reduces Travel Stress
Not all dogs enjoy riding in the car. However, a crate-trained dog is far more likely to relax in the safe, familiar den-like environment of the crate.
Make sure that you include a comfy bed and a favorite toy in the crate, and perhaps consider covering the crate so that your dog can’t see out. Some dogs become very distressed at the sight of strange objects and places passing by outside the car, and shielding your pet from that can help them to relax.
Water And Snacks
If you’re making a long journey, there’s a risk that your dog might become dehydrated. A dog travel crate often comes with a special dog water bottle or water bowl so that your dog won’t ever go thirsty during car rides.
You might also want to buy a feeding bowl that can be fitted into the crate so that your dog can enjoy some tasty calming treats to ease the stress of the journey.
Keep Your Car Clean!
Many dogs become very excited at the prospect of a ride in the car, especially if they know there’s a walk or outing to the dog park to be enjoyed at the end of the journey. That can lead to Fido bouncing around all over the car, shedding hair, mud, and heaven knows what else all over your upholstery.
By keeping your dog contained in a crate throughout the journey, you can also keep any muck confined to the crate (and on your dog!)
Is It Safe To Put My Dog In The Trunk Of The Car?
The average owner is usually unsure of the laws on restraining dogs and other pets in a moving car. To make it even more confusing, those laws tend to vary between countries. For example, according to the Highway Code in the UK, it’s your responsibility to ensure that:
… dogs or other animals are suitably restrained, so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves if you stop quickly.
In the US and Canada, the law varies between states. However, in general, the law states that:
- You must not transport a dog on the back of an open truck. So, if you take your dog hunting, he must travel in a crate in the center of your truck box.
- It is illegal for a driver to travel with a dog in their lap.
- It is illegal to travel with a dog in a closed trunk.
There are also laws in North America and other countries that ban distracted driving. In many instances, drivers have been fined for distracted driving because they have been traveling with an unrestrained dog in their vehicle.
So, you must not put your dog in the trunk of your car to travel. However, if you have a hatchback-style car, you might be able to put a dog travel crate or carrier into the trunk. In that case, it’s fine to transport your dog in the trunk, provided that the crate is properly restrained and there’s plenty of airflow for your pet.
Is It OK To Pop My Dog On The Passenger Seat To Keep Me Company When I’m Driving?
No! Although your dog might want to sit next to you in the passenger seat of your car, that’s not a safe way to transport him. If the passenger airbag activates, your dog risks sustaining serious injury.
Also, as mentioned above, you could be at risk of getting a ticket for distracted driving, as well as putting yourself and your pet in danger.
If you have a small dog, you might be able to fit him with a special dog harness that attaches to the seatbelt. However, using a dog crate in the trunk of your car is the safest method of transporting your precious pet.
Where Should I Put My Car Dog Crate?
Although the cargo area of your car might seem to be the best place for your dog’s crate, that’s not always the case. However, the location of the crate in your car might be a major influence on your purchase decision, so always do your research before you buy.
In many cars, parts of the back and front of the car are designated “crumple zones.” That means that those areas of the car will crumple on impact, protecting the passengers riding in the car.
Courtesy of the BBC
In the case of SUVs and larger vehicles, cargo areas are not designated as crumple zones, so you can safely place your dog’s crate there.
However, all vehicles are designed differently, and we strongly recommend that you ask your car dealership for advice on the safest place to put your dog’s crate in your vehicle.
What To Look for In A Dog Crate For Car Travel
When searching for a dog crate for car travel, there are a few crucial factors to take into consideration before you make your final purchase decision.
The crate must be large enough for your fur baby to be comfortable.
- The dog must be able to stand upright without bumping his head on the roof of the crate. If the dog has erect ears, they must not be flattened by the crate roof when the dog is standing.
- The dog must be able to turn around.
- The dog must be able to lie down flat.
However, the crate must not have so much excess space that the dog is not safely contained. As a rule of thumb, you need to measure your dog’s height standing and his length from his nose to the tip of his tail, adding a couple of inches to each measurement to give him a little extra space but not too much.
Travel crates with adjustable sizes are handy for pet owners, as that enables you to expand the crate as your puppy grows.
Safety And Security
Canine safety is paramount, so it’s crucial that the crate must be robust and sturdy so that it protects your fur baby in case of accidents. Generally, soft crates are not suitable for car travel.
Additional safety features, such as safety straps, are also desirable. Also, the locking mechanism on the crate must keep the most determined escape artist safely contained throughout the journey. In these days when dog thefts are on the rise, a key lock is also a desirable feature if you can find a crate that has one. Also, some dog travel crates feature an emergency escape hatch so that you can get to your pet in the event of an accident.
Finally, if you intend to fly with your pet, you need an air travel crate, so be sure to choose only aviation-approved dog crates.
Crash-tested crates are perfect if you tend to take long road trips or go hunting where you drive off-road.
Ease Of Use
The crate you choose must be straightforward to put together, store, and transport from your home to your car. If you intend to fix your dog’s travel crate to your car seat, rubber grip feet are desirable to protect your upholstery from damage.
Consider where in your car the crate is to go and double-check with the car manufacturer that the crate you want is suitable for your vehicle. Also, if you want to use the crate for air travel, too, check that it is an airline-approved pet carrier, as not all travel crates are.
If your dog is to enjoy his travel experience, the crate must be comfortable. So, choose an adjustable crate that can accommodate a comfy bed, has a removable composite plastic tray to catch any accidents, and can be fitted with clip-on food and water bowls.
Also, excellent ventilation is essential for your pet, and mesh windows can help to facilitate that. Ideally, you want a crate that’s fitted with a bed that has a machine-washable fabric cover to protect your car seats in case your adorable puppy has an accident.
Are All Dog Crates For Cars Crash Tested?
Obviously, you hope that you won’t have a collision in your car. However, you need to be confident that if you do, your dog’s crate will protect him. Some dog car crates and carriers are advertised as being “crash-tested dog crates.” So, what does that mean?
Well, unfortunately, many crates are not tested at all, while some are only tested for very small dogs. So, if you have a large mutt, the crate might not be built to withstand the effects of an impact.
Worryingly, there’s no rule in place to insist that dog crates are tested in the same way that a child car seat or seat belts is. For that reason, the Center for Pet Safety (CPS) linked up with the motor manufacturer, Subaru, to investigate the safety of dog car crates, using a series of crash tests.
CPS Testing Plan and Crashworthiness Study
The CPS carried out two tests on a number of different crates, using crash test canine dummies to simulate what would happen to a real dog in the event of a collision or harsh braking.
In the first test, the crate was placed in the rear cargo area of a car with the rear seat folded down. The crate was secured via connector straps.
Most of the crates tested failed this test!
In the second test, the dog car crate was also placed in the vehicle’s cargo area. However, in this test, the crate was resting against the rear section of the rear seats, which were up rather than collapsed.
That gave the crates extra support through the seatback, and consequently, many crates passed the test. That being said, if the crate is reliant on the seatback for support, there’s a greater danger that the seat could fail in the event of a front impact, especially if the crate and the occupant have a total weight of over 40 pounds.
That would put your dog in danger and your passengers, too.
So, that’s why we advise you to speak to your vehicle’s manufacturer for advice before fitting your dog’s travel crate into your car.
9 Best Dog Crates And Carriers For Car Travel
In this section of our buyer’s guide, we review our favorite 9 dog crates and carriers for car travel. There’s something here for every size of dog and type of journey, so you’re sure to find just what you need for your canine companion.
1. Diggs Revol Dog Crate
Foldable for convenient storage
Excellent ventilation for your pet’s comfort
This superior quality dog crate from Diggs offers you a range of functions, from home use as a playpen and den to a transport crate for your car. The crate is collapsible for easy portability and storage, and there’s a carrying handle and wheels. The crate features a removable plastic tray for easy cleanup in the event of accidents, and there’s a handy ceiling hatch so that you can get to your dog quickly if you need to.
If you have a puppy, you’ll love the adjustable puppy divider panel that’s included with the crate, making the crate suitable for potty training and home use.
The Revol dog crate is made from reinforced plastic, sturdy steel mesh wire, and high-grade aluminum, so you know that your purchase will last you a lifetime. The crate is designed along the same lines as baby industry standards with extra-large durable mesh, meaning that your pet won’t get his nose or paws trapped or pinched.
Thanks to a decent-looking design, the Revol crate is suitable for home use, too.
- Lightweight for easy storage and excellent portability
- Secure, foldable design
- Excellent ventilation
- Includes an adjustable puppy divider
- The crate doesn’t include a cover
2. Petmate Sky Kennel Pet Carrier
Perfect for dogs up to 30 pounds
Petmate makes a number of different kinds of dog crates to suit canines of different sizes.
As well as being designed for use in your car, this dog crate is airline-approved by most major air carriers. The crate is very sturdy and robust, and the steel and plastic construction keeps your pet safe and secure throughout your journey. All the crate’s fixings are made using corrosion-resistant stainless steel that won’t fail, and the crate boasts a 360-degree ventilation system for your pet’s comfort.
As an extra bonus, you get a food bowl included with the crate and some ID stickers.
- 360-degree ventilation system
- Lots of extras included
- 4-way security door to keep your pet securely contained in transit
- A market leader with many positive reviews
- Quite expensive compared with similar travel crates but well worth the money
3. Aspen Pet Porter Kennel
Airline-approved by most major airlines
Wide range of sizes
Strong metal and plastic construction
This heavy-duty travel crate comes with the added bonus that you can use it for airline travel, as well as in your car.
Large dogs up to 125 pounds are catered to thanks to the wide range of crate sizes that you can choose from with this world-renowned brand. The dog carrier is lightweight but sturdy enough to keep your canine companion safe during car journeys. For your dog’s comfort, your pet enjoys ventilation on three sides of the kennel.
- Lightweight but heavy-duty travel crate
- Available in a wide range of sizes
- Excellent ventilation
- Doesn’t feel as strong or sturdy as similar crates
4. Ellie-Bo Sloping Puppy Cage
Fits most cars
Folds flat for easy storage and portability
Easy to clean
The Ellie-Bo slanted wire dog cage is suitable for most vehicles, but we recommend that you check with your car dealer before you buy. Also, this crate isn’t as strong as some alternatives, so it’s not suitable for a beefier breed.
You can fold this attractive crate flat for excellent portability and storage, and there’s a movable carrying handle that makes your life even easier. For easy cleaning, the metal tray that sits in the bottom of the crate is removable. To make sure that your puppy stays firmly contained throughout your journey, the crate features a single door with a heavy-duty latch system.
For your pet’s comfort, you get a machine washable fleece liner included with your purchase.
- Fits most cars
- Heavy-duty latch fastening on the door
- Folds flat for portability and convenient storage
- Removable metal tray
- Handy removable carrying handle
- Only comes in small size options so not suitable for larger breeds
5. Ferplast Atlas 30 EI Cat And Dog Carrier
Perfect for car travel
Strong, high-quality build
Ferplast has produced its Atlas 30 dog carrier with the traveler in mind.
This pet kennel is designed for small dogs and puppies weighing up to 33 pounds. The crate’s robust plastic construction and steel mesh wire door are designed to keep an escape artist safely contained throughout the journey, and the locking system ensures that the crate won’t open accidentally.
There are plenty of side ventilation grilles to keep your pet comfortable during a warm-weather road trip, and you can disassemble the crate easily for storage and cleaning. The main drawback to this crate is that it doesn’t come in a larger size.
- Secure, well-made locks to prevent escapes
- Strong plastic material
- Side grilles provide excellent ventilation
- Lightweight for easy portability and storage
- Affordable dog crate
- Only comes in small size options so no good for larger breeds
6. MidWest iCrate Double Door Collapsible Wire Dog Crate Kit
Sturdy mesh build
Features a push-lock to keep your dog safely contained
The MidWest iCrate Dog Crate Kit contains everything you need to keep your pet safe at home and away.
The double door crate is made from sturdy mesh and is also a foldable crate for easy storage and portability. Included in the package, you get a machine-washable privacy crate cover, a crate-sized dog bed, and two pet bowls that can be attached to the crate.
Your dog will be kept safely confined in the crate, thanks to the secure slide-bold latch, and the crate has rounded corners for safety.
- The crate is available in multiple sizes from extra small to XL for larger breeds
- Strong and sturdy construction
- Excellent ventilation
- Food and water bowls included, so your dog won’t feel hungry or thirsty on the go
- Not crash-tested
7. Zinger Winger PR4000
Lightweight aluminum construction
Flush-mounted slam latch
Silver hammer powder coating for a smart, resilient finish
The Zinger Winger PR4000 travel crate is functional and stylish, too. The crate is weather-proof and built to withstand poor conditions, which is why this is a very popular dog carrier with hunters and outdoorsmen.
Everything used in the construction of this crate is robust, strong, and corrosion-resistant. So, you know there’s no risk of your dog getting out while he’s in transit. Also, the crate is lighter than most steel carriers, making it much easier to carry and handle. When you’re not out on the road with your pet, you can use the crate indoors for training or simply as a comfy den.
- Excellent for safety in transit
- Attractive, practical finish
- Lightweight and easy to handle
- Quite expensive compared to similar products
- Not a foldable design so bulky for storage
8. Pet Mate 21859 Vari Kennel
Robust, strong build
Escape-proof door latch
The Pet Mate 21859 Vari Kennel is incredibly strong and sturdy, and it’s also pretty much escape-proof. That’s why this is one of the best-selling travel crates on the market today.
You can use this rugged crate safely in your car or SUV, and it also doubles as a useful crate for training and general home use. The crate is available in a few different sizes, including an extra-small one that’s good for little puppies. The smaller-sized crates are made from two halves that simply snap together. The larger crates are firmly kept secure with strong bolts.
Escape is not an option for your pet, thanks to the reinforced plastic holders that house the metal rods that keep the crate door shut. That’s much better than most other similar crates where the rods sit in punched holes in the crate rim. Finally, there’s a squeeze latch fastener feature that prevents the occupant from opening the door from the inside.
- Escape-proof construction and design
- Well-established, market-leading manufacturer
- Easy to clean
- Affordable price point
- Teething puppies and serial chewers might damage the plastic
9. Amazon basics Two-Door Top-Load Hard-Sided Pet Travel Carrier
Strong, sturdy travel crate
Suitable for home use and training, too
This Amazonbasics travel dog crate is designed with small dogs and puppies in mind.
The top-loading design makes it super-easy to access the dog inside the crate, and there’s ample ventilation from the sides and top of the crate to keep your pet comfortable on warm days. This pet crate gives your dog a great view of his surroundings during the journey, too. The crate’s front door opens to both right and left, and you can open the door latch one-handed, which is perfect for solo travelers.
The carrier is easy to assemble via four snap latches that are reinforced with screws for your peace of mind. Finally, portability is a breeze, thanks to the strong top handle.
- Excellent crate for travel and in-home use
- Excellent ventilation and a great view for your dog
- One-handed, easy-operation door latch
- Affordable travel crate
- Not suitable for large dogs
I hope you enjoyed this guide to the best dog crates and carriers for car travel. Please take a few moments to share the article if you found it helpful.
Of the dog travel crates we’ve reviewed for you here, our favorite dog crate is the Pet Mate 21859 Vari Kennel. This best-selling crate is very sturdy, and it’s also virtually escape-proof. The crate works well at home and as a training crate for a puppy, as well as being suitable for transporting your pet in your car. Unlike many cheaper crates, this one has an easy-to-operate, super-strong latch feature that keeps your dog safely contained while you’re in transit.
Which dog travel crate did you buy and why? Tell us in the comments box below.