Over a third of new dog owners admit to purchasing a bigger car to accommodate their pet, a new survey has found.
The pandemic sparked a surge in families searching for a canine companion, with almost a quarter of the 2,000 motorists surveyed adopting or purchasing a dog after the start of the lockdown.
The report also revealed that 35% of new dog owners had spent an average of £7,594 on a larger or more practical car because of their pet, resulting in motor upgrades totalling nearly £2.1billion.
As well as the size of the car, the research also asked dog owners what features they looked for when upgrading their car. It found that 38% wanted wipe-clean surfaces on the interior of the car, and 31% said durable materials impacted their purchasing decision.
40% chose a pet-friendly SUV, while 23% opted for a family hatchback and 9% a roomy estate car. While driving 39% of motorists allowed their pet to travel on the back seat and 28% kept their dog in the boot.
To help dog owners to find the right vehicle for them, CarGurus, who commissioned the survey, has developed the online Pupgrader tool, which suggests the right vehicle based on the size of their family and dog.
Ivan Aistrop, the deputy editor at CarGurus, said: “We’re a nation of animal lovers, so helping people to know what to look for in a pet-friendly car is vital, especially given our research found that more than a quarter of dog owners drive with their dog in the car more than once a week.
“The creation of the CarGurus Pupgrader helps consumers understand the size and style of the vehicle required, ensuring not only that their dog is transported safely and comfortably, but there’s room for all of the passengers, too.
“Looking after a dog is not just a case of making sure they’re eating the right diets, sleeping in the best bed or wearing the smartest collar – it’s important that owners have a suitable car, and for many new dog owners this is often an afterthought.”
CarGurus also worked with UK animal charity, National Animal Welfare Trust for further advice when travelling with a canine friend.
Gary McKee, fundraising and marketing manager at the trust, said: “Part of being a responsible pet owner is ensuring you do your due diligence when searching for a car that suits both the needs of your family and your dog.
“Owners need to think about sufficient space, safety and comfort for their animals in much the same way they would for themselves and the human members of their family.”