back to articles | February 13, 2023 | Amelia Palmer

Categories: Useful Automotive Information

11 Tips For Making Your Car Pet-Friendly

If you want to take your dog along for the ride, you need to know how to keep them safe in transit. Prepping your car to be pet friendly is the first step.


Thinking of taking a road trip with your furry best friend? Or taking your pet along on a drive to the shops? While many of us love having our pets as company when driving, there are important safety concerns that you need to keep in mind when traveling by car together.

If you’re not sure how to make your car pet-friendly, these 11 tips will help.

Know The Local Laws

Find out the local laws before you travel to ensure that you don’t get any unwanted surprises on the road.

In most places, it’s illegal to have an unsecured dog on the back of a pickup truck, and it may also be illegal to drive with a dog on your lap. If it’s not illegal, it’s certainly a distraction and it’s also unsafe. If you’re in an accident, your pet could get seriously injured by the airbag deploying.

Make Sure your Car Is Suitable

A dog needs space to sit comfortably and safely, so if you have a large breed and a very small car, you may run into problems. You don’t want your dog to feel cramped and you certainly don't want them to be squeezed into a space they could hurt themselves in.

If in doubt, measure their usual sleeping area and make sure you can offer them the same or more space in your car. If they don’t fit, it may be time for a new, more dog-friendly vehicle.

Keep Your Pet Restrained

A dog that's free to roam around your car while you’re driving is a major safety hazard, for you and for them.

To prevent this, you need to restrain your dog in a way that allows them to remain comfortable and relaxed. You can opt for a fabric or mesh barrier that separates them from the front seat and prevents them from climbing through, or for a seat belt clip that attaches them to a belt and gives them limited back seat movement. Or you may prefer a doggy car seat that has a built-in clip that you can attach them to.

Alternatively, you may want to crate your dog, especially if it’s on the smaller side. Just be sure to secure the crate using the seatbelt so that it doesn't move around.

Engage Safety Locks

Most dogs love looking out the window while driving, but this can pose a major risk if you don’t lock your windows. Even if your dog is secured, it could try to jump out the window, hurting itself in the process.

Make it a habit that when you get in the car with your pet you engage the window locks. You can even activate the child locks on the door just in case, too.

Don’t Let Your Pet Stick Their Head Out The Window

This may seem like a great way to keep your pet cool and occupied, but it just isn’t safe. If your dog has its head out the window, it runs the risk of being hit by flying debris, especially if you’re traveling at speed. Small rocks, sand, and even insects can cause injury and distress.

Watch The Temperature

Remember that your pet has a furry coat on all the time, so if the car is hot, it’s extra hot for them.

Make sure that you keep the interior temperature as moderate as possible to keep your pet comfortable. Also keep an eye out on how much sun they’re getting, as when secured, they may not be able to move to a shadier side of the car. If your dog is hot, it’ll get restless, and this makes the ride unsafe for everyone.

Keep Water Within Easy Reach

A thirsty dog can quickly turn into a dehydrated dog, especially on a longer, hotter car ride. Always keep a bottle of water handy and a foldable travel bowl. If you see your dog starting to pant, pull over and give them something to drink.

Give Them A Familiar Blanket Or Toy

Not all dogs are happy in a car and some may be anxious or nervous. If your dog suffers from travel anxiety or gets stressed on a drive, try to make the experience as positive as possible. It’s a good idea to bring along a favorite toy or blanket to make them feel comfortable and to add a sense of home.

Stock Up On Poop Bags

Accidents happen, and sometimes they may happen in your car. Pop a roll of poop bags in your glove box so you always have them within easy reach. If you stop for a potty break, you’re also always equipped to pick up your dog’s mess and dispose of it properly.

A box of wet wipes isn’t a bad idea either, and you can even keep a bottle of hand sanitizer with you to clean yourself up.

Invest In Seat Covers

If you are going to be traveling regularly with your pet, it's a great idea to invest in seat covers. Covers can provide some extra grip for your pet’s paws, and they’ll protect your upholstery from scuffs, scratches and curious teeth. Covers also make cleaning easier, especially if your pet has an accident in the car while traveling.

Check Your Car Before You Set Off

If you’re setting off on a road trip with your pet (or even without!) make it a habit to give your car a once-over to ensure it’s in good working condition. Make sure that you have enough gas, that your tires are suited to the weather you’ll drive in, and that there are no warning lights flashing on your dash. This will help to ensure that you don’t break down along the way with your dog in transit.

Make The Journey Fun For Everyone

Traveling with your furry friends can be a wonderful experience. But if you’re not prepared, it can also create difficulties that can ruin what could have been a bucket list trip.

By taking some simple precautions and following these tips you can minimize the chances of running into problems.

Thinking of getting a new car? Make sure that your prospective purchase has enough space for your furry friends. Ask myAutoloan to assist you with buying your next vehicle.