Pet Car Seats 101

Harnesses are a great safety alternative to a dog running wild in your car. See more dog pictures.

Your trusty dog Max may love to go for a ride in the car with the windows down and the wind blowing through his hair, but a trip to the dog park without some pet protection could be dangerous for both you and your pet. From a quick commute to the vet for an annual checkup to a cross-country move, occasionally transporting pets in the car is necessary. Whether your pampered pooch or persnickety feline loves four-wheeled transportation or not, making your car pet friendly has obvious advantages.

Your car was designed for use by humans, though, and with the exception of a few automobile models that have extra options that make transporting pets easier, the carpeting, upholstery, side panels and ceiling liners in the typical automobile aren't all that pet friendly. If you don't mind frequent car detailing and vehicle rehab, a few scratches, gouges and tufts of pet hair may not worry you too much, but the potential safety hazards should.

In a moving vehicle, your pet can be a dangerous distraction, and even if he doesn't bark, howl, hop around or try to sit in your lap, his unsecured body can become airborne in an accident, putting his life -- and yours -- at risk. Even if you have a minor fender bender, your frightened pet can become agitated and aggressive. A pet restraint offers an an easy, humane way to protect and control your dog or cat.

Because pets can be large, small, destructive or refreshingly laid back, there are a number of seating and restraint options out there. Some even include a few enticing extras. On the next few pages, we'll take a look at car seats, booster seats and seat covers for the discriminating pet and his devoted owner.