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Dog Car Accessories and Travel Essentials for New Pet Parents

By Guest Author
published: October 4, 2023 • 6 min. read
dog sitting on car seat cover

Riding in the car is one of the most exciting adventures you can treat your dog to. Dogs get so much out of life’s simple pleasures, and even a short car trip can become the most fun thing in a dog’s day. But to take the best care of your pets, it’s important to protect them with proper travel carriers, seatbelts, car seats, barriers, and other dog accessories for cars. Fortunately, excellent dog travel accessories are available to keep your pup safe and enjoying the ride.

Here are some dog travel essentials to stock up on before your next road trip, drive to the park, or day out running errands with your furry friend along for the adventure.

Pet Carriers for Cars

Some dogs sit calmly in the car, while others are restless and roam around due to anxiety or overstimulation. Either way, the safest place for dogs to ride in a car is in a carrier or crate. These are safe options because they keep dogs secure in case of an accident. If your car is hit, the dog will be more stable and not fly through the car upon impact. Dogs can become seriously hurt if they are loose in a car involved in a collision.

Carriers and crates keep dogs in secure places so they cannot run away or harm anyone after an accident. Also, restrained dogs are less likely to distract drivers and be the cause of an accident.

Choose a dog crate or carrier that is the right size for your pet. Compare your dog’s weight and height with products available so there’s a snug fit but still room to move around and get comfy. Tunnel crates, soft crates, and traditional kennels are popular options. You can review products, studies, and announcements on the Center for Pet Safety website.

Protect your pet

Dog Seat Belts

Just like how you strap yourself and your kids into the seats of your automobile before any commute, dogs benefit from seat belts to keep them safe and secure. Dog safety belts are among the most helpful pet car accessories because they help keep pets alive during a crash and prevent distractions for drivers. Seat belts are a good option for dogs that enjoy looking out the window during drives.

Choose dog seat belts that you can easily tighten and loosen for the optimal fit and that are made with high-quality straps and buckles. Your dog should feel comfortable wearing it and be able to sit up or lie down easily without having trouble breathing or getting relaxed. The seat belt materials should be chew-proof, and the product should be crash-tested for safety reasons. Chewy has various dog seat belts to choose from, and you can filter your search by breed size, material, price, and features.

Pet Car Seats

There are also car seats made specifically for dogs that keep pups safe while helping them enjoy the views. The important things to look for in a dog car seat are a secure restraint and comfortable design. Many dogs feel cozy and comforted while riding in a doggie car seat because it feels like a more secure version of a traditional dog bed.

If you have a small dog, choose a car seat that gives your pup an extra height boost to see out the windows. Amazon is a popular place to shop for dog boosters and car seats, and here, you can find products with storage pockets, adjustable straps, and washable materials.

Travel Dog Beds

Especially on long car rides, you want your dog to be comfortable and feel cozy during transit. Depending on the pet restraint system you choose, you may be able to add a dog bed to it for enhanced comfort and to help your dog adjust to the safer way to ride.

Travel dog beds are typically smaller and more portable than those for household use. They may come in handy once you’ve reached your destination and provide a soft space for your dog to rest and sleep in your hotel room, vacation rental, or campsite. For example, you can browse the selection of travel dog beds at Target and find different shapes, sizes, and types to fit your dog’s preferences and travel style.

Backseat Barriers for Cars

In addition to these dog travel accessories, consider getting pet auto barriers to protect your dog and human passengers while in transit. Petco is a popular source for dog car barriers that you can install in a vehicle and enjoy a safer ride for everyone.

There are one-size-fits-all metal barriers that you can install between the backseats and hitch area of your vehicle. To prevent your dog from jumping into the front seat, you can attach a cloth barrier to the back of the seats and get the added benefit of extra pockets to stash away road trip gear. There are also vehicle hammocks that you can use for your pet to keep your dog comfortable and also protect your backseat.

Pet Seat Covers

If your dog is prone to getting sick on car rides or shedding, it may be worth looking into a pet seat cover for the seat where your dog sits in the car. A top-rated seat cover for dogs is the Meadowlark XL Premium Dog Hammock, which completely covers the backseat and fits snugly for a comfortable ride.

Some seat covers have a mesh window, allowing you and your pet to see each other while protecting your seat. This is ideal for dogs and humans with a bit of anxiety on car trips. Look for seat covers made with waterproof or water-resistant materials if your dog is prone to potty accidents or excessive licking. This is an excellent option if you have leather car seats that you want to protect from scratches, rips, and tears.

Car Door Protectors

Another one of the many dog accessories for cars available to pet parents today is the car door protector, which helps prevent damage from scratching, gnawing, and drool. Dogs with long or sharp nails can damage the interior of your car doors, while breeds prone to excessive drooling can leave your car doors wet and sticky. There are various models of car door protectors available, but focus on ones that are simple, easy to clean, and waterproof.

For example, Kurgo’s car door guard is adjustable from 23 to 28 inches wide, has an ample storage pocket, and stays in place with locking tabs. Door protectors are also great for rainy days when you take your dog hiking and come back covered in mud. If scratching is your main concern, you may need to work on training to address your dog’s behaviors and prevent intentional door damage.

Vehicle Ramps

Some dogs love nothing more than jumping into a car and settling in for an exciting ride. But if your dog is small, a puppy, getting older, suffering from joint pain, or recovering from an injury, that jump could be very difficult or even dangerous for your pup. Dogs can fall and become seriously injured while trying to jump into a vehicle. To address this issue, there are vehicle ramps that you can purchase so that your dog can walk safely up the ramp and into your car. Ramps are especially helpful if you have a large dog that weighs too much to comfortably pick up and put into your vehicle.

Dog ramps are especially useful if you have a tall SUV, minivan, or Jeep. Some of the best dog ramps are adjustable and fold up to easily fit into the vehicle when not in use. Things to look for in a new dog ramp are products that are lightweight, sturdy, easy to clean, have a non-slip surface, and that can accommodate your dog’s weight. Some ramps are only designed to access the back hitch door, but you can purchase a side door adapter kit separately for certain models if that is where you want your dog to ride.

What to Do After an Accident with Your Dog in the Car

But while there are many things that you can do to keep your dog safe on car rides, some accidents are unavoidable. If you hit something with your vehicle or are struck by another vehicle, do your best to stay calm and assess any injuries in yourself and any human and canine passengers. Dogs are very intuitive and can sense the emotional state of their people, so reassure your dog that you are handling the situation and staying in control. A scared or injured dog may be more prone to biting or nipping, so speak to your dog in a calm and reassuring tone while keeping the dog leashed to prevent running away or harm to others.

Call a vet or emergency animal hospital to have your dog checked out after a car accident, even if the injuries seem minor at the time. Since your dog can’t talk to you and explain the symptoms, it is vital to seek medical care as soon as possible for your dog. It may be beneficial to file an insurance claim and attempt to recover damages from your accident. A local auto accident attorney can advise you about whether you can pursue financial compensation for vet bills related to your dog’s injuries.

If you have a Healthy Paws insurance plan for your dog, you can submit claims for vet bills to us after an accident. With our plan, you can visit any licensed vet or clinic for your dog’s emergency and follow-up care and submit photos of your vet bills through our app or website. We process most claims within two days so you can get your money back and continue taking the best care of your pet’s injuries.

We hope you and your pet never have to experience an auto accident, but we are here to help if this unfortunate situation ever happens. Meanwhile, keeping your pet safe with the dog car accessories described in this article can help prevent unnecessary pain and stress on you and your little travel buddy, wherever the road may take you!