Here’s What to Look For in a New Car If You Have a Dog

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You want to bring your four legged best friend everywhere, but you don’t want to ruin your new car. Your old car was perfectly worn in — dog hair everywhere, a few scuff marks or scratches on the seats, and the comforting smell of canine. Or, perhaps you’re thinking about getting a dog and are worried that your car isn’t big enough to comfortably accommodate a dog plus the family. After all, family friendly vehicles have to include pets too! So what should you look for with dog friendly cars? What makes a car dog friendly? What should you keep on hand to provide your pup while you’re on the move? Talking to your car dealer may provide some welcome solutions, but we’re offering our own car buying tips for your trip to the auto dealer when it comes to finding dog friendly cars.

What Makes a Dog Friendly Car?
Seats that fold flat and a good cargo hold are hallmarks of dog friendly cars. A rear hatch door will make sure that your dog can jump in and out of the back easily and a sunroof is an extra bonus for your dog to stick his head out and sniff the air. It’s always important to consider how high off the ground your vehicle sits — if your dog can’t jump up, you’ll probably have to load her in, and depending on how big she is, that could take a toll on your back.

Look for a car that has the flattest floor without any nooks or crannies and avoid cars with cloth seats. Those can be easily torn by nails and the amount of time you’ll spend vacuuming hair up just isn’t worth it. Opt for leather or vinyl seats instead.

Looking for places to attach a dog harness — so your dog isn’t thrown every which way during the ride — is also important when looking at vehicles. And of course, you want to make sure that air reaches your dog even in the back, so see if the vehicle you’re looking at has temperature controls for the back or an AC system that reaches the back as well as the front and middle seats.

How Can I Make My Car More Dog Friendly?

Even if you have leather or vinyl seats, it’s not a bad idea to get seat covers to protect your seats from Fido’s nails. Putting rubber mats down can help contain mud, dirt, or other debris — and keep your upholstery in a bit better condition. Keeping dog blankets in the car is another good idea — both to pad your pooch and to keep your car’s surfaces looking nice.

Investing in a dog ramp can be another good idea, for older pets who maybe can’t jump up into the back as easily as they used to be able to, as well as pet tethers or harnesses to keep your dog secure.

How Can I Better Prepare For a Long Car Trip With a Dog?

Making sure you keep some bottled water and kibble, as well as dog dishes stowed in the back of your car is important. Make sure your dog is staying well hydrated, especially if it’s a hot day. Your dog should ideally have enough space to lie down comfortably in your car and it’s a bonus if he or she can look out the window too.

Be sure to stop often to let your pup out to stretch his or her legs and use the bathroom. You do NOT want an accident to happen in your car! If you have luggage with you, make sure that it’s not stacked in a way that a sudden turn or stop could make it fall on your dog — either strap it in or try to keep it to one layer.

If you’re one of the 35% of Americans who have plans to take a vacation 50 miles away from home (or more) and are looking for dog friendly cars, it’s important to know how to prepare and what you should be looking for in a car.

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