Pet Friendly Car Rental: What to Be Aware of When Renting a Car with Your Pet
Planning a trip with your dog, cat, or other four-legged family member? Are you prepared? You have pet friendly hotels booked, airline reservation for your pet made, pet airline travel carrier bought (and pet familiarized with carrier), pet packed, and what else? Is that it? Nope, you need to rent a car. Most major car rental companies are pet friendly. That is, they allow pets to travel in their vehicles. However, all have restrictions and guidelines. Here are some common issues that people with pets face when renting a car.
Stinky Pet Smells
There is nothing worse than getting into a rental car that reeks of smoke, dirty diapers, a Big Mac & fries, or too much after shave! Well, getting into a car that has stinky pet odors isn’t much fun either – even for us pet lovers. Cat urine and wet dog are the most common odors that linger after a pet and their person have rented a car.
Remnants & Hitchhikers
In addition to the smells, pet hair and dirt are among the presents left behind by pet passengers in rental cars. Pets also bring along unwelcome hitchhikers who decide to hop off inside the car rental! These hitchhikers are ticks and fleas. Car rentals companies aren’t too happy when they are left to clean up the mess your pooch or kitty made in the back seat – let alone de-flea and de-tick the rental car. And you are sure to be less happy because you will have to pay for the clean-up.
Damage – Inside & Out
Just as you are liable for any damage done to the outside of the car, you are also liable for any damage done to the inside of your rental car. Gnawed off seat corners, scratched fine Corinthian leather, or a stick shift used as a chew toy are among some of the interior damages that pets can cause.
We can’t overlook damage that pets indirectly cause to the outside of the car. When a pet travels in a vehicle and is allowed to “roam free” it’s a recipe for disaster. Unsecured pets commonly distract the driver. Whether the driver turns around to pet their dog, or their cat is scratching on the back of their seat, or their dog is bouncing around the car barking at the wind blowing – these are major distractions and they cause car accidents. If you have to stop fast or rear end someone traveling, pets have been known to be projectiles – right through the windshield. In addition, if you are in an accident and emergency help comes, when they open your car door, an unsecured pet can dart off and either get lost or at worst get hit by a car.
Follow these common sense tips and suggestions to avoid any unnecessary charges by car rental companies and more importantly, to keep you and your pet safe when traveling.
1. Before your trip, give your pet a bath and trim their nails
2. Be sure your pet is flea and tick free and is using a flea and tick preventative
3. Wipe/dry your pet off (body and paws) before they get into the car
4. Bring along a pet spray to squelch wet dog odor
5. Brush your pet frequently to get rid of loose hair
6. Cover the seats of the rental car
7. Bring along a hair pick up brush to clean seats
8. Don’t leave your pet in the car unattended
9. Properly restrain your pet in the vehicle by using either a pet seat belt, pet car seat, travel kennel, or vehicle pet barrier
Taking some common sense measures will help ensure that you and your pet have a safe road trip and a car rental experience free of strife. (These tips may also be applied when you are staying at pet friendly hotels & accommodations!)
Kim Salerno is the President & Founder of TripsWithPets.com. She founded the pet travel site in 2003 and is an expert in the field of pet travel. Her popular web site features pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the US and Canada, along with other helpful pet travel resources. Her mission is to ensure that pets are welcome, happy, and safe in their travels.