what are the best cars for dog owners?
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The UK is a nation of dog lovers and making sure they can travel with you safely is an important aspect of ownership. Trips away, long walks, and journeys to the vets mean your dog spends a great deal of time in your car.
In this guide, we’re going to look at the most pet-friendly cars and how you can make your vehicle comfortable for your pup and how to keep it clean when they get out.
What is the most dog friendly vehicle?
Our four-legged friends require comfort and space when travelling. SUVs make the most sense for dog owners as they are sturdy by nature and often have larger boots which gives dog owners flexibility when travelling with their pooches. Accessibility is also important, as the age and agility of your dog will change over time, so they need to be able to get in and out of the car with ease.
However, it is not just large cars that can accommodate your pup; MINI is a brand that has worked hard to showcase their dog-friendly status. They’ve teamed up with Dogs Trust to demonstrate why they are such a popular choice for dog owners. In fact, the MINI Clubman won Dog Friendly Car of the Year at the UK Motor Awards 2021.
What is the most dog-friendly SUV?
Some car manufacturers understand the dog-loving nature of their customers and therefore offer something special with a purchase. The Nissan X-Trail, for example, offers a £600 Paw Pack. which comes with a ramp to help smaller or less agile dogs into the boot, as well as a boot liner, storage rack, and a waterproof dog bed.
As mentioned above, SUVs tend to be the first port of call for pet owners due to their size and structure, and being aware of how many litres of boot space there is can help you work out whether it is the right size for your dog.
What cars are good for big dogs?
If your dog is a Great Dane or an Irish Wolfhound, you’ll likely know that they take up a lot of space wherever they are. Owners of big dogs know that they need to be able to lie down, and as they can get car sick it is also a good idea to look for cars with good handling so the movement doesn’t cause too much havoc on their stomachs.
SUVs like that Land Rover Discovery Sport or the Peugeot 5008 have over 700 litres of boot space, which is large enough to accommodate even the largest breed. Many estate cars also offer similar levels of comfort with slightly less space, like the Volkswagen Passat Estate or the SEAT Leon Estate, both without around 600 litres of boot space.
Is it safe for dogs to ride in the back of an SUV?
In general, yes, your dog will be safe in the back of your SUV. Legally, you are allowed to drive with your pet in the car. The Highway Code states that they must be properly restrained, must not be sitting in the front seats and should not be allowed to have their head out of the window.
If a pet distracts you while driving and you get into a collision, your car and pet insurance may be invalidated if it is discovered to be down to your negligence that the pet was allowed to create such a distraction in the first place. You can face a fine of up to £5000 if your dog is not restrained properly.
It is also recommended that you do not bring your dog in the car if they are very ill or injured, if they are newborn with an unhealed navel, or if they are not old enough to feed by themselves. It is important to try and acclimate your dog to the nature of a car before you set off as it can be quite daunting for your dog.
How can I make my car pet-friendly?
Regardless of what car you have, you can take steps to make it safer and more comfortable for your pets. The main things to consider are:
Carriers: The Highway Code states your dog has to be properly restrained, and for some smaller breeds this can be done by keeping them in a crate or carrier. They can be secured in the back seat with a seatbelt, but never in the front seat as this could be dangerous if their airbag inflates.
Boot divider: You can get metal or mesh dog guards, also known as boot dividers, that separate the back seats from the boot, therefore giving you dog space to move without coming into the main body of the car, which will be distracting. This will also mean you are in line with the Highway Code as this counts as being properly restrained.
Dog belts: You can get seat belts or harnesses for your dog and these are probably the safest choice. They often attach to standard seat belt fixtures, and go across the body as they would with a human. These types of belts will keep your pet in place whilst still giving them the comfort they need for the journey.
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