Car Travel with Dogs: Getting the Right Seat Cover

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about travelling safely by car with your dog. Today’s post is related to the previous one, in the sense that it’s also about cars and dogs. But instead of safety, I wanted to focus on cleanliness, more specifically, on choosing the right seat covers so your dog doesn’t leave the car in a mess.

Before getting one, you should consider the following:

  • Does it cover all of the back seats?
  • What mechanisms does the cover use to stay in place?
  • Is it waterproof?
  • Does it have holes for the seatbelt?
  • What happens with the cover if you travel with your dog and someone else in the backseat?
  • Can it be washed in the washing machine?
Our First Attempt
Unitec seat cover (Image from www.amazon.es)
Characteristics
Product image from Amazon (www.amazon.es)

Even before getting a car, we knew we wanted a seat cover in case we ever used my in-law’s car.  We looked online and found the Unitec Car Blanket 73616 on Amazon. It was pretty cheap (€ 12) and we went for it.  The main characteristics of the cover can be summarized by answering the questions above:

  • Does it cover all of the back seats? Yes.
  • What mechanisms does the cover use to stay in place? It uses Velcro straps that attach to the headrests on the front and back seats, creating a kind of crate for the dog (i.e. the dog doesn’t have access to the floor of the car). If your car does not have headrests on the back seats, there is no way that you’ll be able to attach it properly and it’s likely that the seats will end up full of dog hair.
  • Is it waterproof? Yes.
  • Does it have holes for the seatbelt? No, this cover doesn’t have any holes for the seatbelt. You can make them easily using a pair of scissors or a knife.
  • What happens with the cover if you travel with your dog and someone else in the backseat? It doesn’t include any mechanisms for this purpose. You’ll have to detach it  from one side and then fold it under the rest of the cover.
  • Can it be washed in the washing machine? Yes.
Our Experience and Opinion

This cover has worked well for us, but after less than one year of use, we decided to get another one. The main reason being that 5 out of the 8 velcro straps holders had snapped and we could no longer trust that the cover would stay in place.

The Unitec cover in use. Note that it’s not attached to the front seats and the strap closest to the camera on the back seat is broken.

The first time most of these strap holders broke was one day that Nix tried to get in the front of the car from behind (the car had already stopped and she was anxious to get out). Her weight on the front straps broke them. We could hardly blame the cover. So for the rest of the year we used the cover without attaching it to the front seats’ headrests. She had access to the floor of the car but it wasn’t a problem. The fifth strap holder broke due to the tension from normal use.

We could have tried to sew them, but we don’t have a sewing machine and we’re not sure how easy it would be to fix. So we decided to get a new cover (hopefully a better one!) and keep the old while we decide what we do with the old one. We’ll probably wash it and keep it as a spare.

Our Second Attempt

 

Characteristics
The folded Karlie Flamingo seat cover, folded

For our second attempt we looked for a similar cover which had a reasonable price and which didn’t use velcro straps to hold it in place. We found the Karlie Flamingo Car Lounge Star (see here, I’m not 100% sure it’s the same model, but it looks very similar). This time we got it from Tiendanimal for around € 20. What are the characteristics? Again, I’ll answer the previous questions:

  • Does it cover all of the back seats? Yes.
  • What mechanisms does the cover use to stay in place? It uses adjustable straps which are sewn to the cover which can that attach to the headrests on the front and back seats, creating a kind of crate for the dog (i.e. the dog doesn’t have access to the floor of the car). They can be attached and detached using a plastic fastener similar to those in backpacks. Like in the case of the previous cover, if your car does not have headrests on the back seats, there is no way that you’ll be able to attach it properly and it’s likely that the seats will end up full of dog hair.
  • Is it waterproof? Yes.
  • Does it have holes for the seatbelt? Yes, it comes with two holes with velcro, to open and close them. It’s very practical.
  • What happens with the cover if you travel with your dog and someone else in the backseat? It includes a zipper which unzips from the part of the cover that is held by the front seat to half way. In this way, you just have to detach half of the cover from the front seat’s headrest and unzip it. Then the person sits on top of the cover but can rest his feet on the car’s floor.
  • Can it be washed in the washing machine? Yes.

What is really nice about this cover is that is also has with some pockets to store doggie stuff. Plus, it comes with a water bottle and travel bowl. The bowl is made of plastic and it can be folded. It doesn’t look very resistant but we may yet be surprised.

Our Experience and Opinion

At the time of writing this we cannot really give our opinion on the cover, as we haven’t really used it. We got it last Wednesday and we’ve just set it up in the car. The process has been very easy. However, Nix has already tried it and given it her approval.

Nix trying the new seat cover.

We do hope that the adjustable straps with the plastic fasteners will prove to be more resitant than the velcro straps. And the pockets and the travel accessories (water bottle and bowl) are a very nice bonus.

 

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