6 Easy Ways To Pet Proof Your Car

As pet parents, we love our dogs and want to take them with us whenever possible — which definitely includes car rides.

Whether it’s a short trip or a long journey, our furry friends can definitely leave their mark in a car. If you could use a little help figuring out the best ways to pet-proof your car, the following items are very useful to protect your car’s interior and exterior, while at the same time keeping your pet safe.

1. Car Hammock

If you’re a pet parent who prefers to have your dog ride in the back seat then a car hammock is a must-have. Attaching to both the back seat and front seat headrests the hammock covers the entire back section of your car protecting it from hair, drool, food messes, and anything else your pet can throw at it. You can also remove the attachments from the front seat headrests to convert the hammock into a traditional seat cover in case you have some people passengers who need to sit on it.

When purchasing a car hammock, be sure to check that it comes with openings to allow access to the seat belt buckles so you can keep your furry friend and anyone else who sits on it safe.

Another important consideration when choosing a car hammock is the material that it is made from. This will impact more than just its ability to keep your vehicle clean. Make sure to choose a seat cover with a non-slip backing. This will prevent the bottom of the hammock from slipping and sliding on your leather or polyester seating. Not only will it stop your dog from falling, causing an injury, but the secure footing will make him more comfortable in the vehicle when it’s moving.

Our choice: BarksBar Luxury Pet Car Seat Cover

Adaptable and versatile, this car seat cover can be converted from a hammock to a traditional seat cover – giving you more bang for your back. It’s made from high-quality heavy-duty waterproof polyester that’s resistant to pet claws and easy to clean (machine washable on a delicate cycle). Easy to install, the BarksBar car seat cover uses quick-release clips and buckles to stay firmly attached to your seats- but it can be removed in seconds. To boot, there are two pockets added so you can store your pet’s essentials such as treats, leash, and toys.

2. Pet Seat Cover

If you prefer to have your pet ride in the front with you then a pet-specific seat cover is a great investment to protect your interior. Offering similar features to the hammock, a pet-specific seat cover will be water-resistant and made of durable, washable fabric.

This is also a great choice for those that have a van with bucket seats in the middle. After all, the bench seat is often SO far back there and it's ideal packing space if you’re heading out on a road trip or vacation together!

Individual car seat covers are also a great choice for families that can’t give up the full backseat for their furry family member. This way you can make sure that your dog is safe and comfortable on one side of the back seat while other family members occupy the other side. But, be warned, if your dog tends to try to get into your lap, this isn’t going to stop them from trying that with the other backseat passengers during the ride. Pair your seat cover with a seatbelt to keep your dog safely in his own seat.

Our choice: URPOWER Pet Front Seat Cover

No need to worry about pet hair when your pooch is riding shotgun- this scratch-proof seat cover will keep your car protected from dirt, grime, and claw marks. Made from four layers of high-quality heavy-duty polyester, it is also completely waterproof so any “accident” in the car won’t make your seats soaked. And with non-slip backing and seat anchors, you can be sure that this cover will stay in place during the trip.

3. Cargo Cover

If you drive a vehicle with a large open trunk space or removable back seats then a cargo cover is a must-have for you. Available in a variety of sizes to suit different cars, a cargo cover can either lay flat on the floor or cover both the floor and back of a bench seat. These are great for long trips and big dogs, as it allows them some space to really spread out and get comfortable.

You’ll also want to invest in a cargo cover that has a fold-out flap to cover your car’s back bumper. This will protect it from potential nail scratches when your dog is entering or exiting the vehicle.

If you travel with your dog in a wire crate, a cargo liner may still be a smart choice. Why? Unlike the more closed-in plastic dog crates, the wire crate will allow any loose hair and dirt to escape the crate. This is compounded further if your dog is wet or muddy and decides to shake. Placing the crate on a quality cargo liner will protect the space from mess and offer a secure surface where the crate isn’t going to slide while you’re driving around.

Our choice: 4Knines SUV Cargo Liner

With premium-quality offered for a budget-friendly price, this cargo cover is one of the most popular on the market. It has a unique design that ensures greater versatility- 60/40,50/50 split seat and/or center cargo pass-through are the options you get with this single cover. Pretty impressive, right? The large dimensions of this waterproof and durable cover also protect the car’s bumper.

4. Seat Belt Harness

A seat belt harness is a must-have for any pet in your vehicle not traveling in a crate or carrier. In case of an accident, you want your pet to be just as safe as you. In addition to the safety it provides, a seat belt harness will also restrain your pet from moving around the car and creating a mess. Imagine no snouts pressed against the window, no chewing or paw prints all over your upholstery.

A seat belt harness works like a human harness in that it restrains your dog in the event of a crash. This will prevent them from being thrown forward into the front seat, into other passengers, or out of the vehicle. They are used with your existing seatbelt system, either by hooking into the seatbelt clip or by having the belt fed through a portion of the harness before buckling it.

You should be very selective when purchasing a car harness for your pet— we learned earlier this year from the Center for Pet Safety that approximately 86% of car harnesses don’t live up to their safety claims.

In addition to being sure that the harness you choose is truly crash-tested and safe, pay careful attention to the recommended weight limits for the harness and purchase the correct size. Much like child safety seats, the weight limit is listed for a reason! Placing a dog in a harness that is too big may allow them to slip out while a harness that is too small may fail to hold them securely during a crash.

Our choice: Sleepypod ClickIt Sport Crash-Tested Car Safety Dog Harness

One of the rare dog seat belt harnesses that have actually been crash-tested and certified by CPS, this unique accessory has been made with your pet’s safety in mind. The wide, cushioned vest absorbs and distributes energy evenly in case of impact, and the three-point Infinity Loop design secures your pet’s whole torso. Available in a selection of sizes and colors, this secure dog harness will keep your pooch safely tethered while you focus on the road.

5. Ramps

Getting in and out of a car can be tricky for small dogs and older dogs that suffer from joint problems. Depending on their size, you as a pet owner may not be able to lift them into the car easily. If you’ve ever seen a dog attempt to jump into a car and fail, it can be detrimental to both the dog and your car. To prevent pet injury and car interior and exterior scratches, investing in a foldable dog ramp is a great idea.

Choose a ramp that has a non-skid surface that will offer secure footing for your dog. This will prevent injury while also encouraging him to use the ramp with confidence. Check the sizing of the ramp to ensure that it will be high enough to get your dog into the car at an angle that isn’t too steep.

Our choice: PetSafe Happy Ride Folding Dog Ramp

Lightweight yet durable, this convenient folding ramp for pets will support dogs that weigh up to 150 pounds. For added safety, this folding ramp features a high traction walking surface and side rails that prevent slipping and falls- which is especially important for seniors or dogs with limited mobility. And as an added convenience- this ramp can be modified for use on side doors with a separately sold set of adapters.

6. Nail Caps

If pet hair, drool and dirt aren’t a big concern for you because you have leather or synthetic leather interior that is easily cleaned, then you may be most concerned about scratches and rips from pet nails. If the thought of pet nails on your car’s interior is too much to bear, then perhaps nail caps would be a good option for you. Meant to simply cover the tips of your dog or cat’s nails, the caps are applied with a small amount of adhesive and are said to last between 4 to 6 weeks. Some groomers even offer the service of applying them for you.

Our choice: Soft Claws Canine Nail Caps

While you pick out nail caps that could protect your expensive seats (and hardwood floors!), why not have some fun with it? These cool canine nail caps come in a range of bright and funky colors, as well as a few sparkly and glittery options for those bold pooches. Easy to apply and durable, these nail caps will last you for a month- month and a half.

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Christina Raymond
Christina Raymond

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