Traveling with a Pet: Cars and Car Seats for Dogs to Fit Fido’s Style

Best Cars For Traveling With A Pet And Dog Car Seats Ensure Everyone Has A Good Ride

Get there happily and in style.

Traveling around the country is what I do for a living, whether I am traveling to a city for a TV appearance or visiting a new destination to share with my readers. But I don’t travel alone. Meet Molly and Riley.

Molly and Riley love traveling.

They go on almost every trip with me, so I need to make sure the car I take on the trip is comfortable and safe for them as well as myself. So what are the best vehicles for traveling with your dog? Below are a few of my suggestions and experiences.

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Molly and Riley in their car seats. Photo: Adeina Anderson

Dogs Are Safest In Car Seats

My girls, as I call them, have car seats that they travel in to keep them safe on the road. These car seats can hook either to the back of the front seat or the back seats of the car. You can also tether your pup’s collar or harness to the seat so they have room to look around but not enough to climb over the seats while you’re driving.

I have driven quite a few cars during my travels and these are my recommended choices for the best cars for your fur-baby.

Further reading: Dog car seat covers keep your car neat and clean

Picking the Right Sized Car For the Size of Your Dog

The girls are also very small, Molly is only 3.5 pounds and Riley is only 6 pounds, so they are pretty easy to handle in any car. For a large or medium dog I would choose an SUV or minivan when traveling. Though a car would certainly work, I think that you and Fido would be much more comfortable in a larger vehicle.

I prefer an SUV for strapping in the car seats and lifting my pups in and out; the height of an SUV fits with your natural ‘bending point’ or hip point making this easier. Also, SUVs tend to have a wider, flat floor area for storing a pup’s stuff such as a kennel, snack bag, toys or other items.

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Jeep Wrangler 4×4. Photo: Adeina Anderson

Jeep Wrangler 4-Door

The four-door Jeep Wrangler is my first choice. This is my own vehicle and the girls favorite. The car seats fit nicely in the back seat so they can see out the windows, and there is plenty of room for all the goodies I need to take for them. I like the mesh netting on the doors to store their water bottles in and the seat is long enough for their travel bag. I also like the room on the floor for their kennel and cushion.

Further Reading: The 2018 Jeep Wrangler adds comfort and elegance to its rugged off-road readiness

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Doesn’t she look good in the Cadillac XT5? Photo: Adeina Anderson

Fur Baby Chic: Cadillac XT5

Another great choice was the Cadillac XT5. They really enjoyed the comfortable ride of this vehicle, and so did I. They enjoyed being able to look out the window as we crossed the Gulf of Mexico on a ferry boat. There wasn’t as much space on the floor, but everything did fit nicely. They also had their own vents in the back seat to keep them cool or warm, depending on the season. This is a feature my Jeep didn’t have (but is added to the 2018 model).

Pups Love The Dodge Caravan

Dodge Caravan – Photo: Adeina Anderson

Dodge Grand Caravan

I am not a minivan gal, but the captain’s seats in the Dodge Grand Caravan were perfect for the pup’s car seats. Plus, Riley couldn’t play escape artist and jump to the middle of the seat like she does in some of the other vehicles I have driven. The drive for me wasn’t as comfortable, and the girls couldn’t see out the windows as easily, but the convenience of the cargo area of the minivan for storing things made it certainly worth putting it on my list.

Further reading: How to avoid disaster when traveling with a pet

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The Jeep Grand Cherokee had plenty of floor space and rear seat A/C, which the pups liked. Photo: Adeina Anderson

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Another great Jeep choice is the Grand Cherokee. The car seats fit great in the back seat, and there was plenty of room on the floor for everything. It also had the rear seat air vents for the girl’s comfort. The Grand Cherokee that I drove had a sunroof, and though Molly didn’t really care too much for it, Riley really liked this feature.

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Zoey and Molly in The Jeep Grand Cherokee. Photo: Adeina Anderson

More Room For Siblings

The greatest thing about the Grand Cherokee was the back seat space, we were able to fit all three car seats so their sister Zoey could ride along with them when we visited her on our travels.

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Buick Encore – Photo: Adeina Anderson

Even a Small SUV Is a Great Fit

The less expensive category of compact SUVs make a great vehicle choice for traveling with your pups. The Buick Encore has quite a bit of space and whether your pup is large or small, the back seat is perfect. I also own one of these and travel quite a bit with the girls in it. The car seats fit great and pull-down arm rest in the center of the seat is perfect for snack time for them.

Further reading: Sleek and stylish, our Buick Encore review

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Captains chairs in the GMC Acadia offer a lot of cargo space flexibility and the pull down arm rest on the side of the chair keeps cargo from invading. Photo: Adeina Anderson

One of the best vehicles the girls and I have traveled with was the GMC Acadia SLT. It was extremely spacious and comfortable, from the captain’s chairs to the third row of seating that folded for extra space for all the items I used on the TV segments I was doing on that trip.

Further reading: Meet the capable, family friendly GMC Acadia

Best Cars For Traveling With A Pet Include The Toyota Tundra Pick Up Truck

Best cars for traveling with a pet include the Toyota Tundra pick up truck. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A Four Door Truck is Your Best Bet For Traveling With Your Pup

If you are looking at getting a truck for your travels with Fido, then I would suggest a 4-door version. The full size truck with a crew cab, such as a Toyota Tundra or Chevy Silverado, has a lot of room in the back for your pups and all of their stuff that you will need to have on the trip. For medium or large dogs, getting in and out on their own can be a challenge, but opting for running boards can help. Mid-size trucks such as the GMC Canyon and the Toyota Tacoma can be great options, though the back seats can be a bit smaller.

Pack The Essentials For Traveling With Your Fur Babies

Speaking of stuff, always make sure you have a few of your pup’s favorite toys for them to cuddle or play with on the road. A few other items that are a must when traveling with your fur baby are a collapsible water dish, bottled water, snacks and treats, puppy pads (accidents happen) and hand sanitizer. Remember those accidents I just mentioned?

It’s also a good idea to have a blanket for them, the air conditioner might feel great to you, but sometimes your pup might get a little cold. And always have little bags, for trash, and yes, those accidents.

Keep The Environment Comfortable For Your Traveling Companions

The most important thing to remember when traveling with your pups is to make sure they are comfortable. Don’t play the music too loud, and you might want to consider getting a pup-friendly CD like I have (yes, they do make them). Let them be relaxed and be sure to keep them hydrated and fed, especially on a long trip. Just like you, they need to stop every so often to stretch their legs, so be sure to have their leashes with you for quick walks while on the road.

Is Your Pup Always Ready For A Car Ride? We Tried Out A Number Of Cars That Makes Traveling With A Pet Easy And Enjoyable. Also, Cuteness Overload Ahead.

For over a decade, lifestyle expert Adeina Anderson has been a nationally trusted source of information on travel tips,... More about Adeina Anderson