Best Pet Carriers for Traveling How to Choose the Right Carrier for Your Pet

Best Pet Carriers for Traveling

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Pet carriers make traveling with animals safer for everyone involved. Here's what you should consider when getting your pet a carrier.

Pet carriers make traveling with animals safer for everyone involved. Here's what you should consider when getting your pet a carrier.

When traveling with your pet, you will need a pet carrier designed to keep your animal safe and comfortable in a plane or a vehicle. There are a few things to consider when selecting your pet carrier.

First, consider your pet's size. Your pet should be able to stand up in the carrier, so choose something an inch or two taller than your pet's standing height, which is measured from the animal's shoulder to the floor. An animal's length is measured from the neck to the base of the tail. Pet carriers typically also have a labeled weight limit, so you must know how much your pet weighs.

Next, consider the intended use of the pet carrier. Do you just need something to take Fido or Kitty to the vet? Or do you plan on taking your pet on a plane trip? If you want something for short, infrequent trips, a basic and inexpensive plastic carrier will do.

You also need to consider the safety and comfort features of the carrier. Think about the ventilation inside the carrier as well as the material inside it. You have to think whether or not your cat or dog will get hurt if the carrier takes a bump during your commute. 

Plane Travel

For plane trips, consider whether or not you will be taking your pet on board with you as a carry-on. Some airlines do permit small pets to travel in this fashion. You do have to make arrangements with the airline ahead of time, as there is usually a quota for onboard pets. Most airlines also charge a fee for this service. 

The ideal onboard pet carrier will be large enough to let your pet stand up and move around comfortably but small enough to be tucked under the seat in front of you. For safety reasons, no part of the animal should be able to stick out of the carrier. There should also be food and water containers with access to the outside so they can be filled. Check with your airline to ensure you get a pet carrier that meets their requirements.

For dogs, you can carry them in dog cages or crates. Line the floor of the crate with a dog bed. For larger dogs, you can have large dog beds inside the crates. The crates should have additional space for dog bowls. In the bowl, you can have dry dog food, like Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food or Pedigree dog food. For senior dogs, you can keep senior dog food like the Royal Canin Dog Food for seniors.

What if the animal is too big to travel with you, like a large breed dog? If your pet is too large to travel in the cabin, they will travel in an area of the plane that is pressure- and temperature-controlled, like the cabin. You'll need a sturdy plastic or wire crate large enough to let the animal move around comfortably. 

Airlines typically require large pet carriers to be secured with metal nuts and bolts rather than plastic fasteners. The carrier also must be ventilated, so the animal can breathe easily. Again, it should have food and water containers. The lock on the door should have a spring mechanism that the animal can't open. Check with your airline to ensure you get a carrier that fits their regulations.

Car Trips

Big, healthy dogs with placid dispositions generally don't need to ride in a pet carrier during a car trip, but small, excitable, or sick animals should ride in a carrier. This is particularly true of cats since they can get under the seats or pedals and thus cause an accident. Again, pick a sturdy carrier where the animal can comfortably move around or lie down. Plastic carriers are a good choice as they are easy to clean if the pet makes a mess. 

Soft-sided pet carriers are another possibility, providing they're made of materials that can be easily cleaned. The pet carrier should also be stable enough so that it doesn't fall over when the animal moves around. For long car trips, get a carrier with food and water containers attached. You might also want to carry a cat harness and leash.

On the food container, you can keep dry cat food like the Purina One Cat Food or the Purina Pro Plan cat food.

Traveling with Birds

A bird needs a carrier large enough so that its tail won't touch the floor and its beak won't press against the mesh. Different types of birds have different needs, so pick a carrier designed for your bird. If the bird likes to chew, the carrier needs to have a stainless steel mesh, which will also help with ventilation. 

A bird's pet carrier should also have a perch built inside it. For long trips, choose a carrier that also comes with food and water containers. If you plan to take your bird on an airplane, contact the airline about their regulations.

Just as there are many kinds of pets, there are many kinds of pet carriers. Consider your needs and your pet's needs and choose accordingly.

Safe Car Travel with Your Dog


Without a second thought, most of us routinely take steps to ensure the safety of the driver and passengers every time we get in the car. We buckle up, keep our heads and arms inside the car, and watch for oncoming traffic before exiting the vehicle upon arrival. The days of children riding on mom's lap or unrestrained in the back seat are fortunately long gone. But what about traveling with your dog

As it stands, that same attention to passenger safety hasn't yet been fully extended to our four-legged passengers. A safe dog travel study by Kurgo and AAA showed that nearly six in 10 people have traveled with their dog in the car at least once a month over the past year. However, only 16 percent were restraining their dog while in the vehicle. 

Today a growing number of states are regulating the transportation of pets in autos for the safety of both the dogs and humans. However, it doesn't take a law to tell conscientious drivers that securing your dog is best for dogs and for the people inside the car. 

“Drivers should use a pet restraint system for your dog every time their pet is in the vehicle,” said Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, AAA National, Traffic Safety Programs manager. “A restraint like those offered by Kurgo will not only limit distractions but also protect you, your pet, and other passengers in the event of a crash or sudden stop. 

An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert roughly 300 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert approximately 2,400 pounds of pressure. Imagine the devastation that can cause to your pet and anyone in its path.”


Along with keeping your dog secure in the event of a sudden stop, car restraints also minimize distractions. The Kurgo and AAA survey showed that nearly a third of drivers were distracted by their dog's actions, such as standing on the center console or even climbing into the front seat while you’re driving. 

Secured dogs are also unable to put their heads out an open car window, a practice that puts canines at risk both of falling out of the vehicle and getting an insect or particle embedded in their eye. Also, in the event of an accident, having a secured dog allows emergency personnel to quickly enter the vehicle without concern of being bitten by a frightened dog or of letting a loose dog venture out into traffic. 

Options for car restraints start with booster seats for small dogs; dogs sit in the booster seat while wearing a harness that’s clipped to the booster seat. Crates and carriers, buckled in so they can’t become projectiles in a sudden stop, are another option for small and large dogs. Drivers with large dogs can also opt for harnesses that buckle into seat belts, clip to cargo tie-downs, or attach to a zip line across the back seat. 

On arrival, a secured dog is easy to leash up before removing him safely from the car. Use a retractable dog leash. Unsecured dogs, no matter how well they are trained, can get excited on arrival and quickly bolt when the doors are first opened. A few moments spent securing your dog can help you, and your dog has a safe ride in the car, whether that’s a trip to the dog park or on a dream vacation.

When you're traveling with your pet, it's important to ensure that you're doing everything possible to keep them safe.

You may think that the risks of not taking precautions are minimal, but they can be severe. For example, if you have a pet that's been ill recently or has an injury or illness that makes it difficult for them to walk, you should make sure you have a carrier for them so they don't run off.

You should also consider taking your pet to the vet before traveling so they can be vaccinated and receive any other necessary treatments. If your pet has a medical condition such as heartworm or diabetes, make sure it is properly managed during your trip.

It is important to ensure that you are taking all of the necessary precautions to keep your pet safe while traveling. Pets can become stressed or even injured in transit, which can lead to costly veterinary bills.

More on Pet Travel

A Guide to Dog Crates and Carriers
What Are the Best Dogs to Travel With?

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