Get your car pet ready

Following the rise of pet ownership throughout lockdown, it’s now estimated that, as of 2022, 62% of UK households have a pet. Of these, 34% have dogs – which means there are about 12.5 million family dogs in the UK.

If you’re a dog owner, you’ll probably know that, whether you’re taking your vizsla to the vet, your pug to the pub, or your husky on a hike, you’ll often end up packing more for them than you do for yourself, because having the right gear is essential. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the top pet essentials that you should never travel without!

For the journey

As we discovered in our busting driving myths article, rule 57 of the Highway Code states that if you fail to restrain your pet correctly in a vehicle, this can put both your pet and yourself at serious risk of injury – and it can even invalidate your car insurance.

Don’t worry though, there are plenty of ways you can make sure your canine companion remains safe and secure throughout your journey - some will also help ensure that your vehicle remains as mess-free as possible.

Options range from just a few pounds for a simple pet seatbelt, into the thousands for crash-tested crates made for your car. The best method for you is down to a variety of factors, including your dog’s size and temperament, how many dogs you have, the size of your car, your budget, and whether you need to use your boot space or not. 

 

Pet car harness

Car harnesses are a popular and ideal way of keeping your furry friend restrained in the back seat of the car. To use a car harness, you simply strap your dog into the harness, then put your car's seat belt through the loop on the back of the harness, keeping your dog secured in one spot, much like a human seatbelt.

With room for movement, a harness provides flexibility for your dog to sit or stand comfortably, but prevents them from moving around the cabin and potentially causing a distraction.

We’d recommend choosing a car harness like this RAC dog car harness, with soft padded straps, and a large front surface area for even weight distribution in case of emergency stops.

With a D-ring on the back, the RAC dog car harness doubles up as a walking harness, so you can just attach the lead and go without changing gear – a good option for dogs who aren’t keen on having their harness taken on and off.

 

Pet seatbelts

Pet seatbelts are essentially leads that either loop around a headrest, or have a seatbelt tongue which clips directly into the seatbelt buckle. They should be adjusted to a length which is long enough to offer your dog the option to sit upright, but short enough to ensure the dog can’t move around in the back seat.

A pet seatbelt provides limited restraint, so a dog could still be thrown around, or fall off the back seat if the car stops suddenly and the belt is on a too-long setting. It is advisable that pet seatbelts should always be clipped to a harness, and never a collar, as this will help spread the impact across the body instead of the neck, in case of severe breaking or an accident. We also recommend you choose one with an elastic bungee to help reduce shock in this scenario.

 

Pet carriers and crates

A pet carrier, or a crate, is ideal for puppies, smaller dogs, or other pets like cats or rabbits. We prefer fabric pet carriers like this Leisurewize foldable dog carrier, which is machine washable, easy to fold away when not in use, and has an adjustable carry handle for ultimate portability. Keeping security in mind, it features belt loops and a strap to keep the seat securely in place when on the move. It even has a number of handy side pockets, perfect for storing toys and other essentials, like poo bags or your pooch’s favourite treats!

You can also get fixed, or removable crates which fit in the boot of your vehicle. Crash tested versions may be expensive, but they provide the most protection to pets travelling in a boot if your vehicle is involved in an accident.

Protecting your vehicle

Pet hammocks and seat covers

Usually, hammocks conjure up images of turquoise waves lapping up golden soft sand beaches as you swing in a warm breeze and sip on a colourful cocktail topped with tropical fruit and a tiny umbrella. Pet hammocks may not be as glamorous as a trip to the Seychelles, but they do perform a very important function – protecting your back seats.

This pet hammock is simple to install, with adjustable straps that loop over your headrests. Machine washable, it’s perfect for vehicles that often have dogs in the back seat. This hammock also has an aperture, so you can still use seatbelts to secure your pet with either a dog car harness, or a pet seatbelt.

Pet hammocks are not suitable if you need to use the back seats for passengers though, as they block off the footwell, so if you routinely have a mix of two-legged and four-legged passengers, we would recommend you instead invest in a rear seat protector, or treat yourself to a full seat cover set.

Pet boot liners

Pet car boot liners are designed to cover the interior of your boot, including the backs of your rear seats, and protect it from scratches, tears, dirt and pet fur. Often, they just clip around the back headrests, so they’re super easy to remove and clean after a long muddy walk or a trip to the beach.

Pet boot liners are perfect for owners that often travel with their dog in the boot. Make sure that, if this is the case, you safely secure them to an anchor point or to the headrests using a car seatbelt or other appropriate restraint.

Boot cover

If you’ve got a bigger dog who likes to jump into the car themselves, you’ll be all too familiar with scratches on the lip of your car's bumper as they use your bodywork to jump in. We suggest investing in a boot liner with a boot cover to protect the interior of your boot from mess – plus, a clever fold-out canvas flap covers the bumper to ensure your animal gets in without marking your paint.

Dog guards

Dog guards, also known as boot gates or cargo separators come in several styles, and are designed to restrict your pet from interfering with the driver of the vehicle, or any passengers. They also provide protection from any possible collision by preventing the dog or any loose luggage in the boot from going into the cabin, and potentially through the windscreen. If your dog travels in the boot of your car, they should also be restrained, but dog guards are an ideal solution if your dog likes to try and climb over the back seats.  

For the adventure

Cool mats

Pet cool mats are gel-filled mats, which help to gradually reduce your dog's body temperature. They are a great way to help your dog keep cool in warmer weather, especially if they are prone to overheating, and their portable nature means you can take them with you wherever you go. 

Suitable for use inside or outside, they are ideal for use in pet beds, crates, kennels, or in the car. What’s more, on warm summer days, they can be used in gardens, when out and about on adventures, or even the boot of your car.

Travel bottles

Food and water are essential, especially on long journeys. We recommend always bringing a fresh supply of drinking water for your pet, and even if your dog shouldn't need a meal on your trip, always keep some pet food handy in case of an emergency, like an unexpected breakdown. Try keeping our compact travel food and water box in your boot as this will give you peace of mind.

Our favourite pet travel water bottle is less than £4 and is a great gift idea for your fellow pet lovers – perfect for keeping in the car or taking on walks to ensure that your furry friend never goes thirsty. It’s so important to keep your pet hydrated when out and about, especially on the hot summer days that are fast approaching. 

For after the journey

Restoring that new car smell

We may love going on adventures with our dogs, but there’s no denying that sometimes they can leave our vehicles smelling less than fresh. Thankfully, pet-safe odour neutralising cleaners like Nilco antibacterial surface sanitiser are here for all hard surfaces, and they even have a version designed to neutralises odours in fabric surfaces.

If you find your car in a mess after walking the dog, a quick valet will spruce your car up again. If you don’t have time for a full valet, keeping a tin of carpet and upholstery cleaner in your car is a great shout. Simply spray on the foam, scrub using the brush attached to the can and wipe away any excess.

And to keep your car smelling fresher for longer, don’t forget an air freshener – we love these little dog air fresheners which come in a variety of colours and scents, including yellow vanilla, pink flower and blue new car. They can remind you of your four-legged friend, even when they’re not in the vehicle.

 

Using these essential items, travelling with your pet can be simple, and as relaxed as possible! Check out our full travel and touring range for more products to help keep your travels stress-free this summer.

 

 

Image credit: Header image by Kampus Production via Pexels.com