Traveling with your dog is a blast, but the cleanup? Not so much. Even the most well trained dogs can’t help getting pretty dirty from time to time. You don’t have to let cleanliness interfere with your fun though; there are a variety of ways to protect your car from dirt, hair and slobber.
Bench seat covers are the most common kind of vehicle protection. A good bench seat cover will protect your entire back seat, keeping it completely free of dirt, hair, paw prints, and all the other messy stuff that dogs bring in. Be sure to measure your backseat and compare it to the measurements for the products you are considering. Most standard bench seat covers are 55" wide. If your bench seat is wider than that, you may want to look for Truck Bench Seat Covers which come in extended widths, typically up to 63" wide.
What to watch for: With bench seat covers, it’s all about coverage and durability. They’re going to be up against your dirty dogs, and that’s a big challenge. Make sure that you get a cover that has waterproof fabric, strong seams, piping to catch mud and water, and at least 4 points of attachment so that your dog can’t move it and uncover your nice clean seat. Another huge thing to look for is openings to pass the seat belts through, so your car can still be used by human passengers and you can still use your dog seat belt harness. Openings also allow you to use child car seats.
Bucket seat covers work with bucket seats in cars, SUVs and trucks. Most often, these are used in the front passenger seat, but they an also be used anywhere you may have bucket seats, like the middle row of a minivan or SUV. These usually cover the entire seat, bottom and back, just like a glove so you’re completely protected.
What to watch for: With bucket seat covers, you want to be sure that they are extra durable. Look for double stitched seams, piping on the edges, and a company that offers a lifetime warranty. Cars with cup holders or strange armrests may require you get one of the irregular options listed below.
When it comes to bench and bucket seat covers, no cover will be completely universal; there is just too broad an array of vehicles on the market. When you have a seat that has strange armrests, an extra-wide bench, or other extruding features, you might consider the a shorty bench seat cover or shorty bucket seat cover which only cover the bottom part of the seat.
Hammocks are special covers that hang between the back of the front seat and the front of the back seat, creating a literal hammock in the back of your car. These do triple duty as they protect your seat, keep your dog from falling in the footwell, and help prevent your dog from jumping into the front seat. Most hammocks will also let you zip them down the middle so your dogs can share the seat with human passengers.
What to watch for: With Hammocks, you want to be sure that you’re getting one that’s durable enough for your dog. Now, hammocks aren’t designed to support your dog’s full weight (they rest on the seat) but they’ll still be covering a lot of area and you need to be sure they’ll hold up. Signs of strength include waterproof materials, double stitched seams, and piping to direct dirt and water. A good hammock will also have a zipper down the middle so you can split it, allowing your dog to sit on one side of the seat and a person to sit on the other.
Car door guards extend the protection from your seat to your doors and windows. Dogs like to put their paws up (especially when the window is rolled down) and they can easily scratch your door or at least leave behind dirt and slobber. Car door guards fit in between your window and door panel, and hang down as a tough, waterproof barrier to complete the protection of your car’s interior.
What to watch for: With car door guards, you want to make sure you’re getting something that’s going to fit your car. Quality car door guards will be nearly universal, and they’ll slide between the window and the door. These have to deal with paws and slobber, so make sure they’re rugged and waterproof too.
Cargo Cape’s are great for dogs that ride in the storage area of your car, such as the back of an SUV, minivan, or station wagon. These covers lay flat in your storage area and are split so that you can put seats up and down without having to move them. They also come with rubber bumper guards that fold down to make loading and unloading a breeze.
What to watch for: With cargo capes, you want to be sure you’re getting something that has your whole car in mind. Many cargo capes are just glorified blankets, but the good ones will fold out to protect the bumper so your dog can climb in and out with ease. It's also best to get one with a center zipper that will allow you to fold down one of your seats.
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