Bringing your pets along for the ride can make any trip more fun, but pets can also cause some serious damage to your car if you aren’t careful. Driving with pets requires some preparation and equipment, but planning ahead will make for a smoother, safer ride that everyone can enjoy.

Follow these four pet driving tips to make your next trip with your four-legged friend easy and fun.

Keep Pets in One Area

Confine cats to a travel carrier, and use a crate, cargo barrier or seatbelt for your dogs. This will keep them safe, minimize distractions and keep their fur from flying all over your vehicle and clinging to the seats.

Groom Before You Go

Have your pets’ nails filed and their coats thoroughly washed, trimmed, and brushed before they’re in your car. You have to put your pet in the car just to take them to the groomer’s anyway, so you should give them a good brushing and make sure that they’re as free of loose fur as possible. Seat covers will help in ensuring that nails don’t accidentally leave behind any marks.

Make sure that your pet has also had time to go to the bathroom; this can reduce the risk of accidents that will leave a lingering odors and stain your car’s carpet.

Get the Right Gear

Prevention in the form of seat covers and plastic floor mats will help stop your pets’ hair from getting caught in every fiber. They will also protect against various pet stains. You can also use some peel-and-stick plastic window guards, which are a great way to stop slobbery dog breeds like mastiffs and basset hounds from smearing the glass.

Pet odor eliminators and air fresheners are also useful, but you shouldn’t use them to mask up any fresh stains or mess. Make sure that you always clean immediately after your pets exit the vehicle; otherwise, you’ll be left with the root cause of the odor that will only worsen over time.

Put Your Pet Passengers First

Having pets and traveling with them is a lot like having kids; the amount of preparation and clean-up is tough, but it gets easier with practice. Focus on helping your pets feel comfortable and calm during the ride. Securing them with seatbelts or travel crates is a great idea, especially if they struggle with car anxiety and tend to get sick in the car.

Sometimes your pets may have damaged your car a little too far beyond repair. If this is the case, be sure to follow some of these tips to keep your next car in better condition, with cleaner seats and fresher smells. Professionals at a car lot, whether it be a Toyota dealership or Hyundai superstore, can give you more ideas about how to clean and protect your car now and in the future.