3 min read • By Wyatt West, Staff Writer & Outdoor Fiend, Timberdog®
Does your dog rack up the miles with you as your roadie co-pilot? If so, read on. We’ve assembled five must-have car travel accessories for you and your pooch.
SEAT BELT FOR DOGS
A seat restraint is the most important car travel accessory you can have for your dog. I trust Kurgo’s Tru-Fit Enhanced Strength Dog Harness, as it’s one of the only dog seat belts out there that has been crash-tested up to 75 pounds. I do not recommend getting seat belts with bungee-type features, as those allow the restraint to stretch too far, which can have a devastating effect in an accident. My Kurgo dog harness keeps Angus fairly close to the seat, with only enough room for him to sit up, turn around, or lie down, and I cinch it fairly close to his body for a snug fit. If I wanted him to walk all over the back seat, I would not have purchased a seat belt at all.
One critical item that is oddly-missing from other blogs that cover dog car accessories are window shades. If you’ve ever traveled with your dog, you know that they like to avoid the sun, and will often shift around in your car to do so. If your dog is belted, he won’t be able to change seats to get out of the sun, and this can be dangerous, as your dog can overheat. We recommend keeping a comfortable temperature in your car, as well as covering the back windows (as he should be seated on the back seat) with window shades. Enovoe makes an inexpensive and highly-reviewed 4-pack that’s worth looking into.
CAR TRAVEL DOG BED
I’ve written a whole blog on this topic, but personally, I like to keep a few large towels (a cheap and sustainable option) on the back seat, with the long edges tucked under the seat back to keep them in place. I have a pretty hardy pooch who doesn’t need anything too soft or orthopedic just yet, and the towels handily double as mess cleaners. If you’re looking for something more aesthetically-pleasing with a much wider coverage, however, I recommend the Giomoc Dog Car Seat Cover, an affordable, popular seat cover that even has some large pockets sewn in to stow your extra things.
TRAVEL WATER BOTTLE FOR DOGS
When searching for a good dog water bottle to toss into your car, make sure you find one that is leak-free, no-spill, and BPA-free. We love the Malsipree Dog Water Bottle, as it covers all of these requirements and is small and lightweight, to boot. Some reviewers complained that it cannot be washed in the dishwasher, so we recommend hand-washing this, and other dog water bottles.
CAR ODOR ELIMINATOR
Let’s face it, big dogs (and some medium ones) can be smelly. Even if your car has a leather interior, dogs can funk it up in no time flat. My car has a cloth interior and I like to deodorize it occasionally by sprinkling baking soda on the upholstery and letting it sit overnight, vacuuming it out the next day. While the soda is doing its work, I clean the dash, doors, mats and other parts of the car with a spray of equal parts white vinegar and water. It stinks something awful, but the smell dissipates within an hour or so, leaving your car naturally sanitized and fresh.
To keep the car smelling fresh between cleanings, I keep a bamboo charcoal air-purifying bag in the cupholder. I don’t recommend using things like Febreze or any commercial car freshener, as they are full of chemicals which are bad for you and your dog. I’m not even a fan of using natural essential oils in the car, as essential oils can be endocrine disruptors for humans, while both dogs and cats are sensitive to many of them (some essential oils are even poisonous/fatal to pets).
HONORABLE MENTION: HAIR REMOVER TOOL
If you opt out of a backseat cover, there are few things that feel more unsanitary than having a car full of dog hair. Using a hair remover tool is one of the more satisfying things I’ve done on road trips. When nothing else is going your way (Murphy’s Law has an uncanny way of striking while you’re out on the road), pulling long strokes across your car’s upholstery with a brush has a funny way of turning your day around and giving you a sense of accomplishment. Not to mention, it keeps the car sanitary and also helps, in small part, to fight car odor. Here’s a link to a search on Amazon that should give you a choice in which sort of tool works best for your dog’s type of hair and your car’s upholstery.
What else do you find that you absolutely need on road trips with your best mate? Comment below!
Photo credit: Jimmy Conover
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