If you own or are thinking of getting a dog, then your next vehicle purchase should include them and their needs just as much as your own. Be prepared with these following essentials to get you and your dog into the perfect car for both your needs.
Trying to squash a Newfoundland into a Scion iQ, or at the other end of the scale strapping a Chihuahua to the back of a pick-up truck just isn’t going to cut the mustard when it comes to buying or updating the ideal vehicle for the dog. While Station Wagons and SUV’s are great for larger dogs, smaller hatchbacks and coupes are great for those purse-sized pups. Stay away from convertibles such as the Mazda Miata/MX5 or Honda Del Sol, and tiny cars such as the Smart Fortwo that only have front seating and not much else. Space is the key, as you want to also have a box for all your dog’s play toys when you go away or to a local dog park. This will include a car harness, water and water bowl, drying off towels, treats, balls, poop-bags, and other knick-knacks. Fold flat seats are a great bonus for more room, as are rear lift up doors in wagons, SUV’s and hatchbacks like the Mazda 3. If you already have a dog that loves to stand their front legs on the center console to look out the front window, then this needs to be a consideration when buying. Not all vehicles have this feature between the front seats (such as the Fiat 500, Mitsubishi Mirage, or Audi A1).
Coupes are a great choice with their larger doors (of which there are usually only 2 and the trunk), making it easier for your dog or dogs to climb in and over to the back seats.
Wagons, Crossovers, SUV’s and Hatchbacks are ideal for their practical rear-lift tailgate meaning easy in and out access for mid to large size dogs. Don’t discount sedans however as they are great for rear door access. My Japanese Spitz loves our SAAB 9-3 sedan with leather seats and center console for standing on. If you are thinking of a pick-up truck, choose the ‘Crew Cab’ with four passenger doors instead of two, so there’s enough room for your dog in the back seat. Don’t put them on the bed tray as they aren’t safe in the event of accidents or bad driving. There are plenty of proven statistics that show the damage done by doing this.
Unless you have an American Hairless Terrier or Hairless Chihuahua, stay clear of cloth trim seats as they are magnets for fur, and the fur doesn’t just sit on top, it manages to interweave between the thread making it hard to remove. Opt for a car with leather or vinyl seating for ease of cleaning. It’s not only fur that gets trapped in cloth trim, but if your dog throws-up for any reason (and it will happen – guaranteed), your car seats will have remnants forever (whether it’s stains or smell, even if you get them professionally cleaned). If you want to put car-seat covers on, that’s extra protection against claw marks on your seats. Easy to remove and wash when needed. They won’t be so good on cloth seats though. Wet patches will still seep through. Buy car mats for the floors as they are also easy to clean. Even put a tarpaulin or heavy plastic under the mats where dogs may be seated or lying down in the back.
Okay, so it’s easy enough to roll down the windows enough for your beloved pups to breathe, but when it’s a boiling hot day and you just want the air-con on, it’s a good idea to have rear vents for the back passengers – or in this case dogs. Some of the luxury brand name cars such as SAAB, Audi, and Mercedes have rear air vents as do a lot of the larger SUV’s and Minivans.
My Top Picks by Category
Wagons – Audi A6 Allroad, Volvo XC70, Acura TSX Sport Wagon, Mercedes E-350 4Matic, Kia Soul
Hatchbacks – Mazda 3, Toyota Prius, Honda Civic, Audi A5, Dodge Caliber
Sedans – Ford Fusion, Mazda 6, Audi S4, Lincoln MKZ AWD
SUV’s/Crossover – Subaru Crosstek, Nissan X-Terra, Land Rover Discovery, Hyundai Kona, Toyota C-HR XLE
Pick-Up Crew-Cab Trucks – Ford Explorer Sport Trac XLT, Chevrolet Colorado LS, Dodge Dakota SLT, GMC Canyon SLE, Ford F-150 Lariat
It is also recommended that dogs not ride in the front passenger seat as in the possibility of an accident air bags cause even more damage to a dog – especially side air bags. Air bags are made to protect people in the event of an accident – not animals. It’s advised that they are seated in the rear or storage area with a proper harness and secure buckles. Make an informed choice as the lives and comfort of your dogs are in your hands. Go to Car Dealers just so you can get a feel for the interior size and suitability for your beloved pup. It’s most likely they will out-live the ownership of the car anyway, so getting it right is essential.