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Pets

Best Car Accessories for Pet Owners

According to the ASPCA, 37 to 47 percent of all U.S. households have a dog, and 30 to 37 percent have a cat. Meanwhile, the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that more than 90 percent of all U.S. households have at least one car. When you combine the high number of pet owners with the high number of car owners, it’s clear that pet-related car accessories are an important consideration for many drivers.

Below are some key car accessories to consider if you’re a pet owner:

Car seat covers. Few tasks are more tedious than cleaning animal hair (or worse, bodily fluids) from your car seats. You can avoid this hassle by covering your vehicle’s seats before taking your animal companion along for the ride. The best car seat covers offer solid durability while adding a stylish accent to your vehicle’s cabin. Look for a car seat cover that’s thick enough to withstand scratches and tears. You’ll also want to make sure your choice is waterproof, stain-resistant and machine washable. How your car’s upholstery stands up to your pet is also something to consider when choosing a new vehicle: Leather upholstery, while more expensive, is much easier to clean than cloth.

Pet ramps. Older and smaller pets sometimes have a difficult time climbing into vehicles, especially if the vehicle is an SUV or a crossover with high ground clearance. (Keep this in mind if you’re in the market for a new vehicle.) While pet ramps aren’t necessary for all pet owners, a ramp makes it easy for your aging or tiny pet to get in the car and saves you from picking him up. When choosing a ramp, select one that’s sturdy enough to bear your pet’s weight. Pick a lightweight ramp with a handle, as it’s easiest to maneuver. It’s also essential to consider safety features such as front and rear stabilizer lips and non-skid feet, since these help prevent falls by keeping the ramp securely in place. The final aspect to keep in mind is storage. A ramp that telescopes or folds saves space.

Pet harnesses, crates, and carriers. A harness, crate or carrier is essential to the safety of your pet. A pet that travels without one of these restraints is more likely to suffer serious injury or death in an accident. Also, an unrestrained pet poses a hazard to other passengers, since the animal can become a dangerous projectile if the vehicle brakes during an emergency or navigates a sudden turn. Not all harnesses, crates, and carriers provide the same measure of crash protection, and it’s essential to research your choices. The Center for Pet Safety (CPS) is an advocacy and research group dedicated helping pet owners make safer product selections, and the organization has conducted crash-test evaluations on several harnesses, crates and carriers.

The right pet-related car accessories can keep your pet safe and your car protected during travels with your favorite animal companion.

Warren Clarke is an animal lover and automotive journalist for CARFAX, a leading online resource for car buying. He enjoys sharing tips on how to make your vehicle more pet-friendly.