Buying a car is a big enough decision as it is, but when you factor pets into the mix, man’s best friend can end up adding to the already sizeable list of considerations that you’ve drawn up. If you frequently go for road trips with your pets along for the ride, then there’s plenty of extra things to weigh up when purchasing your next car.

And, as your pet gets older and grows, your car may need to accommodate these things as a result, especially if they need more space to lie down in the backseat, or if they require a ramp to get in and out of the vehicle. Car shoppers need to take all aspects of their pet’s lifestyle into account, so it’s important that they go for a car that’s going to keep their companion safe and comfortable.

To help pet owners out, here’s a guide to buying a car with your furry friend in mind.

What kind of car should a pet owner look for?

Hatchback models are always a good idea, since the back opens up and since they usually have a low-load floor, so pets can just hop in and out of them. Plus, the boots of such vehicles are often lined with plastic so they’re easy to clean in the event of any accidents.

And, since your pet is further away from where you’ll be in the driver’s seat, you’re kept free from distractions when on the road. Crucially though, there’s never too much space between the two of you, so they won’t end up getting anxious while you’re on the road.

Also, the large rear window hatchbacks mean your pet can watch the world pass by, instead of poking their head out of the rear passenger window.

As well as space for your pet, you’ll need to make sure your car has plenty of room for their food, leashes, toys and other associated accessories, too. Ideally, something that can hold all your pet’s stuff without looking like a mess is a bonus. A roomy vehicle is particularly helpful if you’re the outdoor type too; if you like going on adventures and exploring places with your pet, then compartments that are big enough for things like pet first aid kits are a must.

Before you choose a car, bring along some of the equipment you use with your dog when you test drive it, and make sure everything fits in there comfortably without making a mess.

Car features to keep in mind

  • Seats: Leather seats tend to be more durable and easier to clean than upholstery interiors, and don’t hold smells for as long. It’s also a good idea to get rubber mats to cover the carpet on the floor whatever car you go for, you’ll be glad you did after taking them for a walk in muddier locations.
  • Tinted windows: These help keep the interior cooler in hot weather and minimises the penetration of ultraviolet rays. However, they’re not often so readily available with standard hatchback models, and tend to be found as standard with sport-utility vehicles.
  • Rear air vents: If you’re on a summer road trip, then rear air vents are key to keeping your pet cool, allowing fresh air to circulate throughout the vehicle.
  • Cargo area tie downs: Handy for securing dog crates, harnesses and wire or mesh barriers.
  • Window switches: Pay attention to where these are! Are they vertical on the door or horizontal on the arm rest? Dogs can accidentally step on switches on the armrest, and open or close windows. Window switches that are placed vertically on the door usually mitigates this risk, while child lock windows could also be used to make sure your pet doesn’t open the window without knowing.

Safety tips

Whichever car you go for, there’s a few things you can do to improve your pet’s safety when they’re riding with you. Your dog might enjoy sticking its head out of the window, and as cute as this is, it’s a tad on the dangerous side. Debris can fly up and hit them in the face or eyes, which can hurt or injure them.

They may also jump out of a moving vehicle if they’re small enough; their natural curiosity may lead them to chasing something they’re interested in. We’d advise keeping the windows rolled up, or rolled down enough so that they can get some fresh air on the go.

It may also be tempting to let your pet sit on your lap, but if you stop suddenly or you’re involved in an accident, you put your pet at serious risk of injury or worse. Instead, keep your dog buckled up in the backseat. There are all manner of harnesses and attachments you can get to keep them safe.

If they find it difficult to sit still or need more room, then consider buying a specially-designed barrier. These can fold down into the backseats, and let your pet have a bit more space while you’re driving.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Looking for more from Brindley Garages? Head here to check out more news from the motoring world, or if you’re in the market for a new car, see how we can help at our homepage.