Your guide to finding a car that loves your dog as much as you do — or at least comes close.
Our guide helps you determine the best car for you and your dog, along with some tips on how to make your car more dog friendly.
Features you want in a dog-friendly car
What makes a dog-friendly vehicle? Keep a lookout for the following features:
- A pet barrier. Some cars come with a built-in pet barrier, but you can also buy one on its own. The barrier keeps your pet in the back seat of the car so they can’t climb over the seats.
- Fold-down back seats. If you have a hatchback that has fold-down seats, you can prevent hair build up in the back seat. This is especially good for big dogs.
- Waterproof seat covers and pet barrier. You can purchase seat covers that spread across your entire back seat and also create a barrier between the front and back seats. It’s best to get ones that are waterproof and washable.
- Rear air conditioning. This is especially useful on hot summer days or when you’re heading home from the beach. If you have a pet seat cover or barrier, make sure it doesn’t block the air conditioning.
- Childproof window and door locks. It’s easy for dogs to step on door handles and window controls, so this is a handy safety feature to have.
Best cars for small or medium-sized dogs
Traveling with a small or medium-sized dog can be a lot easier than a larger dog, but you still want your pet to be as comfortable as possible for the ride. Here are the cars to consider:
BMW 3 Series
This luxury vehicle, while on the pricier end of the spectrum, comes with rubber mats for the trunk cargo area and built-in dividers. The car also comes with a sunroof with a shade cover — perfect for those summer days. The rear seats fold down to provide extra space and the back window can also be opened for extra ventilation when needed. Medium-sized breeds such as French Bulldogs will feel right at home in this car.
Kia Rio Sport
Zip around the city with your pup in tow. Split-fold rear seats (60/40) come standard to make the back more accommodating for a small-sized dog. This zippy car comes with plenty of storage and is ideal for a pair of Dachshunds or even a Beagle.
This innovative vehicle is ideal for dogs of any size — from Chihuahuas to Bullmastiffs. The solar ventilation system can cool your car when it’s parked in direct sunlight and the air conditioning system provides bursts of air when you drive. Accessories such as the seat liner and scuff guard protect your new Prius if you want to keep your dog in the back.
Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring
A spacious SUV for all kinds of trips, you and your pup will be comfortable with dual-zone climate control, a tilt glass sunroof for those long drives and plenty of space with a 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat. Accessories include a back bumper protector so your dog won’t scratch the paint getting in and out, a cargo barrier and rear seat covers to catch pet hair. Bull Terrier pups will feel right at home in this Mazda.
The cars that will accommodate your large dog
Your pup may have started off small, but it won’t be long before they will be outgrowing everything — including your car. Here are the cars that your big friend will be the happiest in:
As the 2016 Motor Trend’s SUV of the Year, the vehicle comes with four-zone climate control, a roomy cargo area and third-row air-conditioning to keep you and your dog happy. Leather seats make cleaning up dog hair easier for dog that sheds, like a Labrador. Notable accessories include a dog gate to keep your pup in place, even when the back door open.
Dog owners love that it can seat up to eight passengers, meaning plenty of room for big dogs like Rhodesian Ridgebacks or Dobermans. It comes with touch-activated climate control and the 60/40 split bench-style seats in the third-row feature storage underneath.
The popular RAV4 comes with leather seats to keep the pet hair under control as well as a power back door so there’s no need to do any more heavy lifting than you need to. There’s also a cargo barrier available as an accessory if your dog likes to sit in the back seat. A tilt and slide sunroof and a dual-climate control all help keep the car cool.
On the road — know the laws about restraining your pet
Not every dog owner are aware of the state laws regarding the restraint of their pet in a vehicle. Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Hawaii, New Jersey and Rhode Island can give you a fine for having a dog on your lap. Authorities can claim that a pet in your lap or the front seat is distracting and that you don’t have full control of your car.
Familiarize yourself with the laws in your state and secure your furry friend as best as possible to ensure their safety. Limiting distractions in the car, such as an unrestrained pet, is in the best interests of you and your dog.
Dogs aren’t necessarily picky, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be. Choosing the right car or even making your existing vehicle more dog-friendly can make your next car trip a lot easier and safer.
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