Buckle Up Your Furry Companions in Dog-Friendly Vehicles

By Guest Writer, Sonny Rodriguez

Dogs are people too. Well, we love them just the same. If you have dogs, it's important to have the right kind of vehicle and interior accessories in place to be safe. And the importance of getting your family from one place to another unharmed should be at the top of your radar.

To your dog, an open window is all they need to get a joy ride. But there are other important features that should be addressed when it comes to dog ownership and transportation. Whether going on a road trip or simply to the dog park everyday, safety comes first. Then cleanliness, I would guess. Here are some dog-friendly vehicles to consider if you're in the market for a new car. Also highlighted are a few necessary products that will keep your pup safe and sound and give you one less distraction while driving.

Toyota FJ Cruiser

The FJ Cruiser might bring you back to the days when you and your brother loaded his toy truck beds with rocks and marbles, or when you would put Barbie and Ken in the front seat of his Tonka toys (Barb in the driver's seat). The colors are playful primaries that include, but are not limited to, calvary blue and sun fusion yellow. The Jean Knows Cars Guide gives it an eight on their Fun-O-Meter. The retro rugged SUV starts at $26.8K MSRP. It's ideal for animals because it is water-resistant fabric on the seats and the floor is rubber so it's very easy to wipe down and hose out. With a decent size cargo (big enough for a crate) and fold down seats, Toyota's FJ Cruiser is fun for the whole family.

Ford Escape Hybrid

A greener option is the Escape Hybrid. With 22/31 mpg, this eco-friendly vehicle has the best automatic highway fuel economy in its class according to the Ford website. The interior seat cushion foam is derived from soybeans and the carpets are a blend that includes post-consumer fibers derived from recycled bottles. When it comes to taking your pooch for a cruise, there is room for a crate but you might consider getting a pet hammock to protect your back seats and a harness and tether so he/she can move around without the fear of a sudden stop throwing them to the car floor (or out of the window).

Mazda3 Hatchback

Do you have a little guy or older fellow that may need less room and an easier entry? In 2012, the Mazda3 Hatchback was named a top safety pick by IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). It's a fun, zippy little thing at the same time. The fifth door opens up to 42 in. of total cargo room, which helps when you are toting a dog and his supplies around. The interior is comfortable and it has style. Plus you can give your doggie kisses when stopped at a light.

What's Inside

Some necessary accessories to keep your pet safe and comfortable include a tether and harness ($24), crate, crate pads, handi-drink pet water bottles ($7.99), or go big with a booster seat with safety tether and pet harness that is all held in place by the backseat seat belt. Lastly, help save their delicate joints by adding a portable pet ramp.

About the Author: Sonny loves living in the country where she cares for her menagerie of six chickens, two goats and three llamas. Being a freelance writer for environmentally friendly cars and smartphone apps, Sonny feels that she gets to experience the best of both worlds; living in nature and writing about nature friendly technology.