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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How to shop for a green, eco-friendly dog car.

Gas prices are lower now than they have been in the past year, but we know that eco-friendly folks are always looking for ways to save money, help the environment and reduce our country's dependence on foreign oil.

Now that green and eco-friendly cars are becoming more available and (in some cases) more affordable, we wanted to share some thoughts about how you can wisely shop for your next dog car the green way!

Type of environmentally friendly cars

The types of green and more eco-friendly cars currently readily available include Hybrid, Electric, and Clean Diesel. Lets take a look at the differences and some pros and cons:


Hybrid cars are the more well-known of green vehicles. Hybrids use gasoline just like most other cars, but are combined in power by electric assistance, reducing the use of gasoline and reducing the cost of driving and pollution.

Hybrids range from 40 mpg up to 50 mpg. And over time they are proving to be very reliable, which is key when you're transporting precious cargo like your best friend. According to Green Car Reports, "it's not uncommon to hear stories of hybrids lasting 300,000 miles or more without problems, and we've heard stories on the grapevine of hybrids still going strong at well over half a million miles.' But they can be pricey especially if you are looking for a larger car."


While diesel still carries a stigma of smelly and loud to most people, they are a high gas mileage option to look at for your next green dog car. Diesel cars can range widely in price, but are more expensive than hybrids.

Now that the technology has improved over the years, they are no longer the smelly, loud hunks of metal that they used to be, but they do lag in emissions behind hybrids. If you do a lot of highway driving you would most likely recoup the extra cost of a diesel in more gas mileage, but if you do a lot of city driving, the cost may not be worth it.


The biggest draw back of electric cars is the distance you can drive without having to recharge. So if you go on longer trips it would be wise to look at a conventional hybrid. But if you don't, an electric car could be a great option for shorter trips and for those that don't live in an apartment (or have access to charging at home). They are pricey, but may qualify for tax incentives up to $7500.

There is one other alternative energy vehicle coming out in concept stages, and that is vehicles utilizing Fuel Cell technology. They are only in the concept stages right now and may be hitting the market in 2015. In addition, there are several really good low gas mileage cars on the market now that may be a good greener alternative for you and your dog's lifestyle.

Dog car safety

Before we dive into tips on how to shop for your new (or used) green, eco-friendly dog car, let's first look at the importance of dog car safety, and how you can best keep your dog(s) safe in your car while you travel. This will also help in determining the best type of car for you and your dog's lifestyle.

Keeping your dog safe in the car is very important. Did you know that in 2009 the Travel Industry Association of America latest statistics show that "of the 71 million people in the U.S. who own dogs, over 29 million travel with them." And the latest info from the APPMA National Pet Owners Survey shows "only 20% of pet owners use a restraint for their pet when they travel."

Those are sad statistics and good reasons for keeping our dogs safe while traveling in the car.  

Every year thousands of animals are injured, die or become lost after being in a car accident. In addition, dogs can become a distraction and actually cause an accident if not properly and safely secured. Loose equipment or items in your car can also needlessly injure your dog even when braking hard for a stop light.

So what are the ways you can keep your dog safer when traveling? The way you secure your dog in your car depends on several factors and lifestyles. Here, we recommend a few ways that we believe will fit with nearly any situation, size (and price) of car, and provided needed travel comfort for your dog.


By far the safest, and many times most comfortable, means of car travel for your dog is in a crate. Over the years many people have tested and showcased the safest crates on the market. By utilizing a strong plastic, wire, or even heavy aluminum crate secured either by your backseat shoulder belts or by straps secured to floor hooks that come with your SUV, crates can be a very secure and safe option for your dog. Just remember to keep them out of the far back end if your new (or recently new) car has a crumple zone.

Car Harnesses

Another option, if you don't have room for a crate or have multiple dogs, are car harnesses. But all car harnesses for dogs are not created equal. Be sure and look for a car harness with the V9DT" logo to ensure that you have a harness that has been fully tested and passed for the utmost safety, as we have heard reports lately about more inexpensive, untested dog car harnesses coming apart in minimal safety tests.

And remember to always secure your dog in the back seat, or front of the way back, away from front air bags and back crumple zones. And if you have side air bags please keep them (or their crate(s)) at least 5-7 inches away from the side doors.

To read more about dog car safety, visit the Dog Car Safety Squidoo lens.

Do your research

The first step in looking at a new (or used) green, eco-friendly dog car is research.

Dog safety zone

Determine the area that you will be securing your dog whether that be the back seat, or the front of way back of an SUV, or in the area where the back seats fold down (make sure they fold flat!). Take measurements of the area that your dog, or dog crate, will need and have that information with you as you shop and compare.


Next step is to determine what size of car you'll need and can afford. Green and eco-friendly cars now come in small, to mid-sized, all the way up to luxury and SUV.

Comparison and price

Green Car Reports is a great website to get you started in your search for either a hybrid, diesel or electric car. The site includes many reviews on a wide varity of green, eco-friendly cars, in all price ranges and sizes.

We don't profess to be experts at buying cars, so we recommend reading up on info, tips and ideas to help you through the process of purchasing your new or used eco-friendly car via Consumer Reports.

Friends of ours at Bark Buckle Up frequently review cars suited for dogs on their website. We only found one Hybrid in their list of reviews, the GMC Yukon Denali Hybrid (with so, so reviews for space and safety). However, the site can give you lots of great ideas of your needs and wants when shopping for a new car. In addition, Gayot has recently named the Volkswagen Jetta SportWagon TDI (a clean diesel) as one of their top 10 Pet Friendly cars.

Shopping day

On shopping day, we highly recommend that you take your tape measure and your measurements of your dog's safety zone area with you to the car dealer, along with all your price and negotiating notes. And if you are utilizing a crate, take your crate, or crate dimension measurements, along too to test and see if it's a good firm fit and that you can secure it safely to the car. 

In conclusion...

“Control emissions, won’t you? Thanks,” says the dog.

Photos courtesy: To Aire is Divine, Edmunds, Green Car Reports.

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