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15 Items Every Dog Owner Needs in Their Car

Road trips — short and long — are fun for pet parents and four-legged friends. Here are the dog car accessories you need to bring along to keep your pooch happy, healthy and safe.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

Thundershirt Classic Dog Anxiety JacketVIA MERCHANT

Car rides make dog tails wag with delight. As a dog behavior expert, I often consult with pet parents about teaching good car manners and bring my own pets along for the ride. Whether your dog loves car rides or gets nervous, preparing for time on the road makes the trip more pleasant for everyone.

Safety for four-legged friends and convenience for two-legged drivers helps everyone enjoy the experience. The longer the trip, the more you’ll need to plan. Here are my dog car accessory recommendations for taking Fido on a road trip.

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Lesotc Pet Water Bottle For Dogsvia merchant

Water Bottle for Dogs

Dogs get thirsty on road trips, too. You should include a water bowl or dispenser in your dog car accessories list. Dog food bowls work okay, but offering your pooch a sloshing bowl of water invites spills.

I like the traveling pet water bottle for dogs that takes away that danger. Just fill up the water bottle before you hit the road. Then, as needed, squeeze the bottle to fill the small ergonomic slurp-proof cup reservoir at the top for a quick doggy drink. The pet water bottle comes in two sizes and multiple bold colors.

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Dexas Mudbuster Portable Dog Paw Cleanervia merchant

MudBuster Portable Dog Paw Washer

While on the road and making pit stops along the way, chances are your dog’s paws will get grungy. Before you let your pet back into your clean car, clean off the mud.

I use the MudBuster for my Shadow-Pup, and it works great — here’s my full review. More than 48,000 reviewers agree. Simply fill up the container, insert the paw and soft bristles whisk the fur clean. The MudBuster is economical enough to keep one in your car and one at home.

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Active Pets Car Seat Cover For Dogsvia merchant

Back Seat Cover Protector

This back seat cover protection works like a hammock dog bed for canine comfort and protection. More than 41,000 Amazon reviewers give it 4.6 stars.

Verified purchasers love it for the universal fit, sturdy design and easy cleaning. Choose this when you have a large dog or several smaller ones. With dog car accessories, keeping the car fur-free tops a pet owner’s wish list.

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Swihelp Pet Car Booster Seat Travel Carrier Cagevia merchant

Pet Car Booster Seat Travel Carrier

For smaller dogs weighing less than 13 pounds, this paw print pet car booster seat makes you go “aww.” More than pretty, the design combines a safety tether that attaches to a dog’s harness. The booster seat allows small dogs a better view than many pet carriers provide. Waterproof and easily cleaned, it folds up for convenient storage.

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Cooyoo Dog Seat Beltvia merchant

Dog Seat Belt

For big dogs, the safest option is riding in the back seat and wearing a seat belt. Not all car seat belts do the job so include this retractable dog seat belt on your car accessories list.

With more than 18,000 largely favorable Amazon reviews, this popular dog seat belt comes in 10 colors and includes a water bowl for road trips. The rugged design stands up to a bored dog’s teeth. The manufacturer also offers a money back guarantee.

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Ezydog Drive Safety Travel Dog Car Harnessvia merchant

Dog Car Harness

To go along with the seat belt restraint, include an appropriate safety harness like this EzyDog Car Harness. Imagine you have to slam on the brakes or get in an accident. The seat belt could injure your dog if attached to the collar or a badly designed harness.

I like this harness because it’s a crash-tested product and it complies with U.S., European and Australian standards. The molded chest plate provides a snug fit with comfort in mind. It comes in three sizes.

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Rocco And Roxie Oxy Stain Remover Oxygen Powered Carpet Cleaner Sprayvia merchant

Rocco & Roxie Oxy Stain Remover

I have to include the Oxy Stain Remover as one of the top dog car accessories for taking care of accidents dogs can’t help. it’s chlorine free and color safe. I love it for quick effectiveness, but even more for safety around pets and kids.

The non-aerosol pump spray makes it convenient to take on the road. It’s a lifesaver for cleaning up after carsick pets. Our Shopping Editor tested it out on her dog’s mess and says, “I threw my other pet stain removers in the garbage.”

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Rabbitgoo Dog Car Barrier For Suvsvia merchant

Dog Cargo Barrier

This dog car barrier is a must-have option for SUVs and Jeeps. Adjust the stainless steel frame for your vehicle’s cargo area. The nearly universal fit keeps rambunctious pets safely confined and away from pestering the driver. The installation doesn’t require tools, making it one of the easiest dog car barriers to set up. Your dog will thank you.

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Pethonesty Hemp Calming Chews For Dogsvia merchant

Hemp Calming Treats for Dogs

My Shadow-Pup adores car rides, but my last dog hated them. Not every pooch enjoys road trips, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help him or her feel better.

For a natural treat to soothe upset tummies, ginger snap cookies calm the queasy feeling. Many folks use hemp products for calming dogs, too, and PetHonesty offers one of the best brands. Offer one prior to starting the car and as needed during the ride. The combination of calming ingredients includes hemp, valerian root, chamomile and (no surprise) ginger.

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Mini Pet Hair Detailer Dog Hair Removervia merchant

Mini Pet Hair Detailer Dog Hair Remover

When you share your life and car with dogs, shedding happens. For quick cleanups, include a dog hair remover in your dog car accessories package.

This mini pet hair detailer fits the bill — it’s tiny, but powerful. People with heavy shedders like German Shepherds, Malamutes and Huskies rave at how efficiently the hair remover lifts even stubborn fur out of car mats and upholstery.

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Petsafe Happy Ride Folding Pet Rampvia merchant

PetSafe Happy Ride Folding Pet Ramp

When my German Shepherd grew old and couldn’t leap into the car any more, we got him a pet ramp. For an older or injured dog, safe footing brings back the joy of fun car rides. But what about when you reach your destination?

I love this PetSafe pet ramp, because it’s lightweight (10 pounds) and folds up for easy storage or transport to take along for your trips. Easy to assemble, it supports pets up to 150 pounds.

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Rayco International Ltd Pet First Aidvia merchant

Pet First Aid Kit

Every pet owner should have a pet first aid kit in the car. Even better, have one at home and another for the road. I hope you never need to use it, but a pet first aid kit offers peace of mind and possible life-saving care should the worst happen.

I like this pet first aid kit that comes in a handy package. It contains must-haves like a styptic pencil to stop bleeding for an emergency.

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The First Aid Companion For Dogs And Catsvia merchant

Pet First Aid Book

Now that you have the kit, learn how to use it with a pet first aid book. You need to know what constitutes an emergency, what you should do immediately — like pet CPR — and what can wait until you come home to see the veterinarian. You’ll also learn basic skills like bandaging and accident prevention.

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Earth Rated Dog Poop Bags Guaranteed Leak Proof And Extra Thick Waste Bag Refill Rolls For Dogsvia merchant

Dog Poop Bags

While on a road trip with your dog, make sure you pick up the poop after any relief station visits. We want our dogs to be welcome everywhere, and that means putting our best paw forward as a responsible example.

Take along a supply of dog poop bags to dispose of your dog’s waste. More than 161,000 reviewers gave them 4.8 stars on Amazon. Here’s my full review.

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Thundershirt Classic Dog Anxiety JacketVIA MERCHANT

Thundershirt Anxiety Jacket

Anxiety can make a car ride miserable for you and your dog. I really like the Thundershirt Anxiety Jacket for nervous dogs.

Yes, it works well for noise fears from thunder and fireworks, but also for sensitivity to car rides and other angst-inducing experiences. The Thundershirt comes in seven sizes. The snug hug feeling works like swaddling a baby to help your dog relax. Happy trails and happy tails!

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Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

Amy Shojai, CABC
Amy Shojai, CABC is the Affiliate Pet Editor for Family Handyman. She's also an award-winning pet journalist and the author of 35 pet titles. She specializes in translating pet medical jargon and shopping information into information pet parents easily understand. Amy shares animal behavior and care information on her blog, and lives in North Texas with her furry muses.