Choosing The Best Protection For You, Your Dog and Your Car
Pet lovers like to take their dogs with them everywhere. Their claws can scratch expensive car seats. Dogs also track in dirt and dog hair. Sometimes they have accidents which spreads pee and saliva to the seats. This can spread germs and odors.
A dog seat cover can prevent all these problems while keeping your dog safe and comfortable. Here are some of the things to consider when choosing protection for your car or trucks seats.
1. Covers the entire seat
The seats in most compacts and mid-sized cars are less than 54 "across. Look for a seat cover that is 54" wide. The unit should cover it from edge to edge
Dogs sometimes have accidents. They pee or drool or even knock over their water dishes if you are watering them in the car. Keeping the liquid from leaking through can save your seats and prevent the spread of germs and odors. Liquids that do get through often drip between the seats making it especially hard to clean up. Sometimes the liquids can even soak into cloth seats. Edge-to-edge waterproofing is a must have in our opinion.
3. Non-slip backing
If you have ever gone to a fun house that has the moving floor, you have some idea of what it's like for your dog if the seat cover slips and slides. That's why having a non-slip backing is essential for a safe comfortable ride for your pet. Non slip backs can be a full rubber mat or silicone dots on the back of the piece. The silicone dots don't work very well but they are better than nothing. A full edge-to-edge rubber back is preferred.
4. Adjustable seat belt straps
Seat covers are attached to the rear seat head rests. Some use elastic straps. These usually lose their elasticity after a while and break. If they stretch, your seat protector won't fully cover your seat and you lose protection. A preferred choice is an adjustable nylon strap. This will resist breaking and can be pulled tight to make the seat cover look like a custom fit. Higher priced models include quick-release connections so you don't have to readjust your straps every time you put the seat cover in the car. Leather reinforced straps are available on more expensive units and are a good idea if you have a larger dog.
5. Hammock Option
Many top of the line covers offer a hammock option. Instead of just covering the rear seats, it allows you to attach it to the front seat head rests creating a hammock or sling. The purpose of this it to keep your dog from falling on the floor in the event of a quick stop. Instead of falling on the floor, the hammock will suspend the dog above the floor keeping him or her safe from injury.
6. Seat Anchors
Seat anchors are straps with a plastic tube that fits between the seats. It holds the seat cover in place so you can get a nice tight look but also prevents the dog from falling on the floor when the hammock option is used. Without seat anchors, your dog will fall forward in the event of a quick stop and the hammock will collapse under his weight providing no protection at all. He'll still fall on the floor.
7. Seat Belt Access
Access to the seat belt allows human passengers to share the back seat and still use the seat belts for safety. Many people use seat belt extenders to secure the dog in the back seat and keep him from wandering up to the front seat or jumping out of the windows. Remember to use seat belt extenders only with dog harnesses. Hooking your dog's collar to the seat belts could break his neck in the event of a hard or fast stop or accident. His body weight will propel him forward but the collar is attached to the seat. Not good for your dog.
8. Side Flaps
Seat covers generally protect the top and back of the seat but often leave the sides of the seat exposed. As your pet jumps in the car, his claws may scratch the sides of the seats. Side flaps cover the sides of the seat to prevent this. Not all seat covers have this feature. Look for it on your next purchase
9. Removable washable mat
One of the newest innovations in pet seat covers is the removable washable mat. Why is this important? If your pet has an accident, the waterproof seat cover should keep the liquid from getting to the seats but it often pools on the water proof section. It can still spill on the seats. If your seat cover is a heavy duty canvas cloth, it will absorb at least some of the urine, saliva or water but then it smells. Canvas based seat covers should never be placed in a washing machine. The agitators and / or aluminum drum can destroy the waterproofing or non-slip back. Unless you can sanitize it, your pet will smell the odors and think this is a potty area.
Making the seat cover in two parts, a canvas based seat cover and a washable removable mat solves the problem. A heavy canvas based seat cover will last for years and years with proper care. The mat not only absorbs the liquids; it also is a dog hair magnet. Simply throw it in the washing machine whenever it gets dirty to sanitize it. It can be replaced as necessary and even changed for use in other vehicles to match their interior colors.
All seat covers are not the same. There are budget models which will do an adequate job of keeping your seats scratch-free but don't do much for the safety or comfort of your pet. They are generally considered throw-away items that only last a few trips. The more expensive models will last longer and protect your seats and your dog. If you only plan to take the dog on one trip like a vacation, an inexpensive seat cover is probably fine for you. For the true dog lover who takes his pet everywhere, a full featured seat cover will last longer and not have to be replaced as often and can lead to many satisfying adventures for you and your dog.
by Dave Berger