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Get Your Paws on These Pet-Friendly Car Accessories

From running off-leash to sniffing a particularly interesting pile of leaves, dogs tend to be enthusiastic about almost everything under the sun. That said, car rides certainly seem to rank at the top of the list. The rattle of keys or a subtle move toward the door can cause any dog to jump around in excitement, but bringing your pup along for the ride can present some real issues regarding cleanliness, comfort, and safety. While cats don’t tend to share the same level of enthusiasm for car rides as dogs might, there are some occasions when taking your feline companion along for the journey is unavoidable. Whether you’re moving or just taking a quick trip to the vet, traveling with your kitty can result in no shortage of scratches and heartbreaking backseat “meows.”

Luckily, there is no shortage of pet-friendly car accessories designed to tackle just these sorts of problems. From crates and barriers that keep your pet safe (and out of your hair) to pet ramps, seat covers, portable showers, and more, we’ve compiled a short list of items that’ll go well with your “Dog is my Co-Pilot” bumper sticker.

For Dogs

Pawple Dog Car Barrier
Price: $44.99

We all love our pets, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we want them riding in the front seat or licking our ears as we navigate traffic. That’s where pet barriers come in. A must-have accessory for any vehicle that regularly transports dogs, these barriers allow drivers to bring Rover along for the ride while addressing some of the common safety and comfort risks this can pose. There are two choices when it comes to sourcing a pet barrier. Drivers can choose between a product designed to fit a specific make and model or opt for a universal kit designed to fit in a variety of cars, trucks, and SUVs. The Pawple Dog Car Barrier falls into the second category, making it a great choice for a wide selection of vehicles. Designed with high-quality steel wire, the Pawple barrier can be installed without any tools and adjusted to provide comprehensive protection for even the most inquisitive backseat passenger. With over 3,000 reviews and a solid 4.5-star Amazon rating, the Pawple barrier is a popular choice that also happens to be backed by a lifetime warranty.

Gunner Kennels Dog Crate
Price: $550 to $800

While a pet barrier might be the ideal solution for many pets, some particularly rambunctious dogs require a more heavy-duty solution. Dog crates come in all shapes and sizes, but if you’re in the market for a top-of-the-line option for your vehicle, it’s hard to do better than the products from Gunner Kennels. Composed of double-walled, roto-molded plastic and stainless steel hardware, Gunner crates look almost military-grade in their design. Of course, that sort of quality does come at a price. Gunner crates are offered in four sizes that range in price from $550 to $800. It’s a sizable investment but well worth the cost if you want to give your dog the best possible protection. Gunner products have earned a five-star rating for crash safety from the Center for Pet Safety and come with a lifetime warranty. The crates also feature weather-resistant windows, a removable drain for easy cleaning, and are designed to foil even the most escape-prone pet. Built-in carrying handles and non-slip feet make the crate easy to transport and ensure it won’t slide around the truck bed or rear cargo area.

One of many pet-friendly car accessories, a portable dog ramp, is shown being used by a dog.

Frisco Quilted Water Resistant Hammock Car Seat Cover
Price: $35

Taking your dog along for the ride shouldn’t mean sacrificing your backseat to the ravages of hair, slobber, and other, even less desirable substances. Once upon a time, drivers had few solutions but to cover the backseat with a ratty old blanket or towel, but travel accessories have come a long way. There are now plenty of pet-friendly car seat covers on the market, but some perform a little better than others. Frisco’s Quilted Water Resistant Hammock Car Seat Cover is a popular choice thanks to its unique design that protects the second row as well as the back of the driver’s and front passenger’s seats with its unique hammock design. Simply loop the straps around the front and rear headrests, and you will have a self-contained space for your pet that will protect your upholstery while giving your doggo plenty of room. The heavy-duty quilted Oxford polyester is water-, spill- and stain-resistant and is even machine-washable. The car seat cover has built-in storage pockets, a non-slip mesh backing, and slots that allow for easy seatbelt access.

PetSafe Happy Ride Folding Pet Ramp
Price: $74.95

Today’s large trucks and SUVs might offer impressive ride height and ground clearance, but these same properties can also lead to real access issues. Humans have solved this for themselves by adding running boards and integrated steps, but these are often too narrow to be safely navigated by our four-legged companions. Luckily, there are always portable pet ramps. These products provide a gradual slope perfect for pets, especially older dogs facing health issues or joint pain. Plenty of portable pet ramps are on the market, but PetSafe’s Happy Ride Folding Pet Ramp is one of the industry’s best-sellers. This foldable pet ramp weighs just 10 lbs but can support up to 150 lbs, making it the perfect choice for even the largest canines. A high-traction surface means less slipping and sliding, and the ramp can be secured with a locking safety latch to ensure it stays put when not in use. The manufacturer warns that getting your pet accustomed to using the ramp might take a little training, but anything is better than lifting a big, heavy dog in and out of the vehicle every time you take a trip.

Kurgo Mud Travel Dog Shower
Price: $14

If there’s one thing dogs excel at, it’s getting messy. Say you just finished a hike and face a happy but mud-splattered dog. A car seat cover might help prevent the mess from spreading, but a quick shower will be the only thing that makes the impending ride tolerable. The Kurgo Mud Travel Dog Shower makes a little roadside clean-up easier than ever, allowing pet owners to convert any standard soda bottle into an on-the-go showering solution. Simply screw the Kurgo Mud Travel Dog Shower onto the end of a bottle, and you can easily give your dog a quick rinse before they climb into the backseat. When used with a two-liter soda bottle, the Kurgo shower provides up to 60 seconds of rinse time, which should be more than enough to help slough off the worst of the muck. The product can also be used to rinse hiking boots, poles, bikes, and any other gear you might need, making it a valuable part of your weekend adventure arsenal.

A white cat is shown sitting in a pink cat carrier.

For Cats

Lucky Box Disposable Litter Box
Price: $23.99 (set of 4)

Traveling with a cat can present some problems when it comes time to take a bathroom break. While most dogs are happy to relieve themselves on any suitable patch of grass, our feline companions tend to be a little more selective when it comes to their accommodations. Bringing your pet’s regular litter box along for the ride is one option, but there’s a disposable alternative for those seeking a more convenient solution. The Lucky Box is a great example. This waterproof, double-paneled travel litter box measures just 16” x 12” and can easily be placed behind the front seats to give the kitty a place to do business while you’re on the go. The Lucky Box is also foldable, allowing drivers to easily stow a spare should they need a replacement. The litter box’s disposable design and low cost make it particularly convenient, as it means you won’t feel guilty about switching one out when it becomes a little too stinky to bear.

VetriScience Composure Calming Formula for Cats
Price: $8 (30 pack)

If your cat is a particularly poor traveler, it might be time to call in a little chemical assistance. All sorts of treats, sprays, and diffusers on the market are designed to help calm an anxious cat, but VetriScience’s Composure Calming Formula ranks among the best. These treats, offered in chicken and trout flavors, employ three active ingredients to help your furry friend chill out on their next car ride. L-theanine helps to encourage the production of dopamine, the body’s natural stress reliever, while thiamine (Vitamin B1) reduces common stress-related symptoms like nervousness, scratching, urination, confusion, and reduced appetite. The treats can be administered 20 to 30 minutes before you set off in the car, and the formula is safe enough that pet owners can easily double the dose without worry. VetriScience’s Composure Calming Formula isn’t just good for car rides. These treats can also be administered during other high-stress scenarios like thunderstorms, family gatherings, vet visits, and other situations that normally send a cat into a tizzy.

Pets are an important part of the family, which is why it’s so important to make sure they’re safe and comfortable when you’re behind the wheel. If you’re looking to minimize post-ride cleanup, seat covers, carriers, and portable showers can always come in handy. Pet barriers improve safety for the driver and their furry friend, while ramps ensure that older dogs with mobility issues can join in on the fun. Calming cat treats can help to make your cat’s next ride a little less traumatic, though they’ll still probably find something to complain about. The products we’ve listed here are a good place to start, but they just represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to pet-friendly car accessories. Other notable mentions include portable food and water dishes, microfiber towels, pet-specific first aid kits, and booster seats for smaller dogs.