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How to Dog-Proof Your Car: 7 Vet-Reviewed Pet Safety Tips

Patricia Dickson

By Patricia Dickson

Purebred dog breed sennenhund rides in the car

Vet approved

Dr. Lauren Demos  Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you’ve ever been a dog parent, you know that riding along in the car with you is one of your pup’s favorite things to do. While you can’t let your dog sit beside you or hang his head out the window as you can in the movies, taking your furry friend on trips is still fun.

The only problem is that you just got a new car, and your precious pet can undoubtedly wreak havoc on everything from the upholstery to the carpet if you’re not careful. So how do you dog-proof your car? We’ll give you seven great ways to dog-proof your vehicle in the list below.

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The 7 Ways To Dog-Proof Your Car

1. Use a Car Hammock

Two rescue dogs inside a car on a hammock
Photo Credit: Knelson20, Shutterstock

If you prefer for your canine pal to ride in the back seat, then a car hammock is a must-have for you. You attach the hammock to the front and rear headrest, where it covers the back section of the car, keeping it safe from hair, drool, and messes from food that your pet might spill.

Many of the car hammocks have the option to be changed into seat covers for when you have human passengers. Any hammock you purchase should have the correct size holes for a seatbelt to fit through, so you can keep your dog and any humans riding in the backseat safe when you’re traveling.

2. Use a Cargo Cover

You could use a cargo cover to dog-proof your space if you have a large car or truck. This is a perfect choice for vehicles where the seats can be taken out, as it comes in different sizes and can lie flat on the floor or even cover both the floor and the seat.

Using a cargo cover is great for long trips because it allows your dog to stretch out and be comfortable for the ride but still be safe, and your car is protected from doggie mayhem, as well. Even if you use a crate when traveling with your dog, a cargo cover keeps accidents from happening: your carpet getting ruined or your pup scratching the upholstery through the crate’s bars.

3. Use a Pet Seat Cover

Happy dog in car with leash on, car cover for animal
Photo Credit: Kejuliso, Shutterstock

Many pet parents are more comfortable with their dogs riding in the front seat, where they can keep an eye on their furry friends. You can dog-proof your car’s interior by purchasing a pet seat cover to go on the passenger seat. The pet-specific seat cover you choose should be waterproof, durable, and easy to clean for the best results.

This is also an excellent option for families who can’t give up the entire backseat to their pets when they go on a trip. A pet seat cover can go on one side of the back seat while a human passenger sits on the other.

4. Use Nail Caps

For some pet parents, drool, hair, and other dog-related messes aren’t that much of a concern because they have leather upholstery. However, even with leather, your pet’s claws can leave marks or tears, and do a number on your carpet.

You can trim your dog’s nails every time you go to get in the car, or you can invest in nail caps instead. The caps cover your pet’s nails and are applied with a simple adhesive that isn’t dangerous to the dog. They are said to last for 4 to 6 weeks, and many groomers offer them as a service to pet owners.

5. Use Ramps

dog with car ramp
Photo Credit: Dagmar Breu, Shutterstock

Several pet owners forget that their dogs have to get in and out of the back of trucks and cars, which means they could leave scratches on the vehicle. It’s also tricky for small puppies, small breed dogs, and senior dogs with joint problems to get into the back of the car. If you’ve ever seen a dog try to jump into something and miss, you know it can lead to injuries.

You can avoid both issues by using a ramp for your pup to climb in and out of your vehicle. Make sure you choose a ramp with a non-skid surface so your pet doesn’t slip and one that is foldable so you can quickly put it away for later use.

6. Train Your Pup

Even while using the tips above, the best way to dog-proof your car is to train your pup. Take the time to train your dog on how to behave during car rides. This will take some time, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.

If you train your pup the right way, our suggested tips will be even easier to implement. Come prepared with treats, patience, and clear commands so your pet can understand what you are asking for, for the best results.

7. Keep Your Car Clean

Worker dry-cleaning car seats
Image By: AKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV, Shutterstock

If you keep your car clean, you’ll increase the durability of the upholstery and carpeting. You’ll be more likely to notice small damages, and take action before they become a major issue, as well. Further, if your car is clean, there are less items for your dog to potentially chew or eat, which is safer for them.

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How to Keep Your Dog Safe In the Car

Now that you know a few ways to dog-proof your car, it’s essential to know how to keep your dog safe when it’s in the car as well.

You can start by never letting your dog hang its head out of the car window. Not only does that do damage to your car’s upholstery, but it’s also unsafe for your dog and illegal in most states. In fact, it’s best to keep your windows rolled up when you’re driving with your pet in the car. That way, they aren’t tempted to stick their heads out and end up injured or worse.

It’s also wise to restrain your dog when riding in the car. Again, in most states, it’s illegal for a dog to freely roam the vehicle when it’s in motion. Instead, use a crate or a doggie seatbelt to keep your pet safe and secure on the road.

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Everyone loves traveling with their dog, and it’s hard to leave a dog that loves to ride behind when you go somewhere. The methods above are a few of the ways you can pet-proof your car and still let your pet ride along.

Dog-proofing your car is essential but not as important as keeping your pet safe while traveling. Follow the safety tips above for a safe, happy, and successful trip for both of you.

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Featured Image Credit: Maria Sbytova, Shutterstock

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