There’s nothing like hitting the open road with your best friend. Man’s best friend may also be the best travel partner – dogs never complain and double as a foot warmer! If you’re planning a road trip with your dog this summer, you know how much work it is. (Don’t forget the kibble!) These gadgets and gizmos are designed to make traveling with dogs a little easier for pet parents, putting the focus on fun, not stress.
1. A car hammock saves hairy seats.
For pet parents without a truck or SUV, putting Fido in the car is inevitably followed by a thorough vacuuming. A dog car hammock provides more seat protection that a traditional bed and is also more comfortable for the dog. If your pup has a tendency to wander up front, select a hammock that blocks access to the driver’s seat, like the Kurgo “Wander.” Available in a variety of colors and materials, some have built-in pockets or pouches to store essentials like a leash or collapsible water bowl.
2. A car seat barrier blocks backseat drivers.
The canine equivalent of “Are we there yet?” is heavy, moist breathing in the driver’s ear. Unconfined pets can also be a dangerous distraction for drivers – a dog should never ride in the front seat. There are two types of car seat barriers, depending on where your pup rides in your vehicle. If it’s the backseat, the barrier is placed between the two front seats; some products are sturdy nylon stretched between seats, while others are mesh and extend to the car’s roof. Dogs who ride in an open-face trunk – say, the back portion of a Jeep – require a seat barrier that’s more grill-like, similar to the divider in a police car.
Note: Make sure you select a car seat barrier compatible with your car!
3. Stay hydrated on-the-go with a dog water bottle.
Ensuring your pet is properly hydrated should be priority number one on the road, especially in hot climates. But when you’re crammed in a car, there’s not much room for extra bowls and bags. These multipurpose dog water bottles are a lifesaver for thirsty pups. Options include a lid that converts to a bowl, and a bowl that folds flat. VCA Animal Hospitals recommends dogs get one-half to one ounce of water for every pound they weigh. Make an effort to stop every few hours for a potty and water break – it’s good for everyone to stretch their legs, two or four.
4. Boost small pets in a dog car seat.
This booster seat for dogs is not only stylish but safe, too; run your harness through the car seat’s connection strap for security. For little dogs only – the biggest booster we could find had a 30lb limit – this is truly for the pampered pet. A dog car seat is traditionally for the front seat, while models exist to fit consoles and suspend from the passenger headrest. For frequent travelers or lengthy road trips, pick a model with built-in food storage or add-ons like food dishes and luxe materials.
5. Safety comes first; buckle up a dog seat belt.
All pet parents know in the back of our minds that dogs really need to be wearing seat belts. The problem is that dogs hate them, and pet parents are confused by them. Not to mention manufacturers of dog seat belts are not required to safety test them before selling. In a 2011 study, 57 percent of brands tested had a “catastrophic failure” in their test – only one brand consistently kept dogs safe. Sleepypod’s Clickit utility harness works by evenly distributing potential force across three points, similar to a human seat belt. The harness’ padded chest piece is designed to reduce impact, while side straps keep pups in place, not whipping side to side.
Cost: Sleepypod Clickit utility harness, $89.99 (Sleepypod)
6. A car ramp makes all vehicles accessible for senior dogs.
As dogs age, many – especially large breed dogs – will experience painful joint conditions, including arthritis and hip dysplasia. Inflammation in the hips, shoulders and knees can make climbing stairs and jumping a (literal) pain. A dog car ramp is the perfect solution for pet parents unable to safely lift their dog in and out of a vehicle. Available in a variety of heights and widths for your car and pet, check weight limits and car compatibility before purchasing.
7. Indestructible dog toys keep idle paws from making mischief.
To stave off canine boredom, provide plenty of distractions, including chew toys or rawhide. Avoid puzzle toys that dispense treats or food, which can make a mess of your backseat. Squeaky toys, while amusing to enthralled pets, will annoy the bejeezus out of the car’s two-legged passengers. Pick sturdy materials strong enough to withstand your pet’s teeth – sometimes small dogs have the sharpest bite.
8. Doggles protect eyes from UV rays and dangerous debris.
As their name implies, Doggles are goggles for dogs that also double as dog sunglasses. Pets with thin or white fur will find wearing Doggles can help prevent cancer-causing skin damage by blocking the sun’s rays. For daring dogs who hang their heads out the window, wearing sunglasses or goggles protects eyes from debris, wind and sun, improving visibility.
(Featured image via Flickr.com/piper.)