Safety always comes first when you’re travelling with pets. More than 18 million dogs are traveling on American roads every day, and for many animal-lovers, a car with pet-friendly features is of primary concern when they are shopping for a new vehicle.
And that’s not all. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), dog distraction contributes to over 30,000 car accidents each year, because they are switching seats, sitting on your lap, sitting on the gear shift, stepping on the window switch — and while trying to manage their uncontrolled behavior, you’re always running the risk of causing a crash.
To help dog-owners factor in the safety and comfort of their furry friends in the car purchase decision, we have put together a list of features you should be looking for if you’re in the market for a dog-friendly car:
# 1: Backseat Shape
• The design of the backseat is an important consideration if your dogs are going to be travelling in it. For small dogs, look for bucket-style seats as they are perfect for `nesting’. Big dogs, however, would find such seats incredibly uncomfortable as their bodies are too big, and they need a bench seat with no undulations, that can provide uniform support.
# 2: LATCH System
• You want to secure the dog to the LATCH system. The Lower Anchors And Tethers For Children (LATCH) system is there to attach a kiddie car seat, but when you attach your dog to that, via an approved harness, that’s when the dog is going to be the safest. If there is a crash, the dog’s movement will be kept to a minimum.
# 3: Backseat Height
• Climbing in and out of the backseat gets difficult as pets get on in years and develop back pains, joint pains and arthritis. Making sure that the backseat is low enough will help avoid exacerbating these really common canine challenges because your pets won’t have to jump as high.
# 4: Cargo Areas With Low Lift-Over
• If your pet travels in the trunk, a hatchback, wagon or crossover with a low lift-over will make their loading and unloading extremely hassle-free. A low-slung trunk also accommodates the use of folding ramps, if your dog needs one. Look for hooks in the cargo area that you can attach a pet carrier to, so the cage does not slide around when the car moves.
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# 5: Sliding Doors
• Sliding doors increase access to the backseat for both you and your dog, as well as minimize chances of car park dents when an excited pooch is lunging to come out!
# 6: Powerlift Gates
• Powerlift gates are a blessing for dog-owners who carry pets in the trunk. They open up and open wide, providing completely free access for the animals to jump in and out with no obstructions.
# 7: Fold-Down Seats
• Cars with fold-down seats substantially increase storage area for large pet crates.
GOING ON A ROAD TRIP? Safety is primary concern when traveling with large dogs
# 8: Childproof Window Switches
• When dogs are hanging excitedly with their heads out of the car, it is really easy for them to open the windows by stepping accidentally on the switches. Childproofed switches eliminate the risk of your pets jumping out of an open window and hurting or killing themselves in the bargain.
# 9: Doggie Gates
• Some manufacturers offer installation of pet gates in the cargo area. These gates contain the animals quite comfortably and safely, while leaving space for you to load other personal items into the trunk as well.
# 10: Climate Control
• Dogs heat up easily. If you live in hot climate with scorching summers, then the vehicle’s climate control power is especially important to make sure your animals are well-ventilated via air ducts in the back of the car.
# 11: Tinted Windows
• Tinted windows do much more than keep the interiors cool. Depending on material, they can protect occupants from as much as 99 % of harmful, cancer-causing UV rays. Also, in the event of a crash, window tints help to keep the shattered glass together and protect your dogs riding in the backseat. You can apply tints to your windows after the vehicle has been purchased, but manufacturer-installed tints are way more efficient and long-lasting for the continued protection of your animals.
# 12: Easy Clean Upholstery
• As much as we love our dogs, they make filthy passengers with their wet, muddy feet, hair bunnies and propensity to get car sick. Stain-resistant seats in dark colors and easy-to-clean floor mats are your best bet if you want to maintain a modicum of tidiness in your animal-friendly car.