This post will discuss what to look for when choosing the right car or vehicle for your dog. You may have seen our previous posts. We drive our pooch around England and Wales. Safety and comfort are always our top priorities. There will be many posts online listing the best cars for dogs, but they will soon be outdated. This article will help you to understand the many things you should consider when looking for dog-friendly vehicles. We’ll cover legal, insurance, and family situation considerations.
A recommendation by The Country Executive inspired this post. We would love to hear from you via the comments below or on our Facebook page.
I am British and have a UK base, so I will cover UK legislation. The UK legislation’s intent may also apply in other jurisdictions. Make sure you are aware of all requirements!
This information is derived from many sources (see links at the bottom of the post), and it is not intended to be legal advice. Although this information was correct when it was written (March 2021), things can change quickly, so review the relevant local government guidelines for your travel.
If you are:
- Driving without proper care and attention is like driving with a pet distracting you because of your negligence.
- You can’t take your pet (e.g., Your pet isn’t fit to travel (e.g.
- Driving without insurance can lead to the invalidation of your license. This includes not following the Highway Code that requires pets to be properly restrained in vehicles. (See the Insurance section below).
Check your pet and car insurance policies. If you do not follow these steps, your insurance could be invalidated.
- Don’t properly restrain your pet.
- Are you driving dangerously? Or were you distracted by your pet and caused an accident?
- Do not follow government guidelines such as the UK Animal Welfare Act or Defra guidance.
Your pet’s safety and comfort
Your safety and that of your pet
Your life and that of your pet can be saved by keeping them restrained. Direct Line reports that 22% of vets interviewed said that dogs in cars that have been involved in crashes were injured or killed by traveling without proper restraint . A Labrador of 32kg will be thrown forward by a 30mph collision with enough force to equal 100kg. Safety experts call this phenomenon ‘canine cannonball’ .
Vets recommend the Highway Code. Pet owners should use a pet carrier, pet seat belt harness, or dog cage to keep their dogs safe while driving. Vets4Pets states that dogs should never be tied to a collar in a vehicle.
Which one should you choose? Consult your veterinarian and/or pet shop for advice specific to your dog. These are the general guidelines that vets provide:
- Dog guards between the seats and the boot: Protect the vehicle and passengers, not the dog. This is the best option for large dogs that require space.
- Seat belt harness: Attach your dog to a seat similar to the one used by humans. Extra provisions may be needed for small dogs (e.g., Booster seats.
- Crates: You need to make sure that there is enough space in your car for the dog and the crate for you. Best choice for smaller animals
You should ensure that the product you choose has been tested thoroughly.
Do not allow your dog to travel with their head out the window, as they can cause serious damage.
Regular trips are a good idea. Be responsible about when your dog is fed (e.g., It is best to take your dog on regular trips and make sure that you are giving it water before going on a trip. There are some practical tips you should consider, such as:
- Good suspension to reduce travel sickness
- Allow enough height for your dog to jump in and out.
- Tinted windows can be used to lower the heat inside the car.
- Leather seats are easy to clean and remove muddy paw prints (but easy to scratch).
- Your country’s weather (it rains a lot in the UK, so the back of a pick up truck isn’t ideal)
Set up your family
Your family’s needs are important when choosing the right car for you and your pet. How many seats will you need for your family and, if necessary, your dog? Are you planning to travel far/often? If so, do you need an economical car? What kind of trips are you planning to take? What kind of driving will you do? Or would you prefer to drive off-road?
Let’s sum it up: You need a car that will:
- Allow your dog to use the restraints that are recommended for him.
- You should have enough space for your dog and your family.
- You will be able to manage the trips you desire to take.
You can search for “best cars for dogs” on Google, and you’ll find a lot of recommendations for specific models and brands. What if these models no longer exist? What if you are interested in joining the electric car revolution? We can only help you if we talk about car types, not brands or models.
There are many types of cars. There is a huge selection of pick-up trucks. The RAC list is what I will use.
- Hatchback Can use dog seat belts but can’t fit a dog in the boot.
- Saloon Can use dog seat belts but can’t fit a dog in the boot or crate.
- Estate– Large enough to use dog seatbelts, crates, and a boot guard if desired
- MPV Can use dog seat belts. However, you can’t fit a dog or crate in the boot unless the seats are down.
- SUV– Large enough to use dog seatbelts, crates, and a boot guard ( great for large dogs’).
- Coupe– You can use dog seat belts.
- Sports car – You can use dog seat belts. It is not possible to fit a dog crate or dog into the boot of the two-door model.
- Convertible– Can use dog seat belts but can’t fit a dog crate in the boot because it is often covered by the folded/retracted roof of the car.
These are the rules of thumb
- SUVs and estates for large dogs and crates
- Small to medium-sized dogs can be accommodated in saloons or hatchbacks with dog seat belts