There are many vehicles that could be considered pet-friendly thanks to a slew of helpful features such as a rear lift gate, flat-folding rear seats, a high ceiling with lots of headroom and a wide cargo floor. Each of these attributes enhances the comfort, convenience and safety of transporting your dog from point A to point B.
But to take canine travel to the next level of enjoyment, there are a number of smart pet-friendly accessories that you can add to your vehicle. These offerings range from well-engineered innovations to fun novelty items, and all of them enhance the experience of hitting the road with man’s best friend. While some accessories are offered by automakers, others are sold by third-party manufacturers. Here’s a list of our favorites.
Great Day Hitch-Up Pet Step
For pets that need some assistance getting in and out of vehicles, the Great Day Hitch-Up Pet Step is a safe and easy answer. This little platform quickly connects to a regular 2-inch hitch receiver and allows your dog to step right up into the rear cargo area of your SUV or van.
Constructed of aircraft aluminum, the Hitch-Up Pet Step holds up to 200 pounds of weight and folds out of the way when not in use. This useful accessory makes the strain of lifting your dog into your car a thing of the past.
Honda Odyssey’s Third-Row Seat Cover
Made for model years 2011-2016, this seat cover allows your dog to stretch out in the third row of your Odyssey minivan without scratching or tearing the seat upholstery. And it’s easily removed for cleaning. Good-looking and well-fitting, this seat cover accommodates virtually any size dog.
Kurgo Auto Grass Center-Console Cover
This little patch of fake grass serves as a deterrent for your dog to step through to the front seat. It simply goes atop your center console cover and encourages man’s best friend to stay in the second row, which means less distraction for the driver. The easily removable turf even has a spot to place your cellphone. Now that’s pretty clever.
If your car isn’t equipped with a backup camera, here’s an aftermarket system that you’ll want to consider as a dog owner. The Pearl RearVision is a license-plate cover that uses sensors to tell you when there are obstacles — most importantly, your dog — behind the car while you’re in reverse.
In addition, this wireless system comes with two HD cameras that provide a real-time view from your back bumper directly to your mobile phone. One camera is a normal one for daytime use, while the other is an infrared camera for nighttime or low-visibility situations. Plus, the lenses are hydrophobic to keep moisture off. The system is powered by a solar-charged battery and ties to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to communicate with the Pearl RearVision smartphone app. That’s pretty high-tech stuff, but it’s worth it to keep your dog safe.
Subaru Outback Compartment Separator/Dog Guard
This straightforward barrier serves as a partition between the second row and the cargo area, giving your dog her own personal space. From a safety perspective, it will keep her from flying forward to the front of the vehicle in the event of a sudden stop. This item accommodates all Subaru Outback trims levels and variants from model years 2006-2014.
Volkswagen Walk the Dog Leash
This branded seatbelt-looking leash may not be the most innovative of pet-friendly accessories, but it certainly does the trick. It’s 4 feet long and emblazoned with the Volkswagen brand name, proudly advertising your dog’s favorite automaker.
2016 Volvo XC90 Dog Gate/Load Liner
Volvo’s specialized dog gate with steel cargo barrier is designed to keep your dog safe and secure at the rear of the vehicle while you’re driving. The structure can also be configured into two separate compartments with individual gates and will prevent your dog from jumping out of the vehicle when the tail gate is opened.
Combine the Dog Gate with Volvo’s Load Liner, a molded polypropylene flooring unit, to give your best friend a comfortable, non-slip surface beneath him while riding around. Both the gate and the liner are easily removable for cleaning.
WeatherTech PetSTEP Foldable Pet Ramp
This handy ramp allows virtually any size dog to effortlessly climb into the back of an SUV or van — even older dogs that may have hip problems. The ramp easily attaches to the rear bumper lip and features a ribbed, non-slip surface that provides a stable climbing path from ground to cargo area via the lift gate opening. No more having to lift your dog into your vehicle, which may also prevent you from having hip problems of your own.