When traveling with a pet, you need something very important: a good carrier for the trip. Heart + Paw’s chief veterinary officer, Dr. George Melillo, explains that the correct use of a pet carrier starts before you even make a reservation. “The most important tip is acclimating your pet to a carrier. This facilitates vet visits as well as travel.” “Having a carrier in the home is a welcome place to find toys or gifts, but it takes time, but ultimately makes travel less stressful.”
With so many different options on the market, how do you choose the right pet carrier for your valuable stock? Ideally, you would make use of veterinarians to get their personal opinions. Well, what do you know? We did it here
“Backpack carriers are a fun and easy way to bring your pet with you while keeping them safe and your hands free,” says Dr. Kristen Wellner, MD, licensed veterinarian at Hills Pet Nutrition. When choosing one, she said, “Your dog or kitten should be able to rest comfortably, which means they should have enough room to turn around and lie down.”
This spacious and stylish backpack comes in three sizes so you can find one that perfectly fits your pet. The package has plenty of mesh for ventilation (especially important, notes Wuellner, for pets that tend to overheat).
Available in nine colors, this durable backpack carrier holds furry friends weighing up to 18 pounds. It is made of mesh for all-important ventilation. It even comes with a name tag and a collapsible water bowl.
If you’re on the fence about a backpack carrier, the versatility of this model may win you over. It has wheels, allowing you to choose to pull your dog behind you when it’s most convenient. It features plenty of mesh for visibility, a telescoping handle and zip hand pockets.
While these choices are generally airline approved, different airlines can have slightly different requirements. It never hurts to check back.
Melillo tells us that Sherpa is a brand that he recommends to clients who are looking for a moving company. Available in four sizes, this ready-to-fly stand features mesh walls and a machine washable faux lambskin lining.
This carrier is approved by many major airlines. It offers self-locking zippers for added security, and keeps cats and toy breed dogs up to 15 pounds warm and cozy. You can choose from four colors.
This carrier is another favorite of Melillo and his parents the pets he serves. It has a pocket that clips into most rolling bags – very convenient! It features airy walls and a removable cushion that can double as a dog bed when you reach your final destination.
For dogs and kittens, Dr. Sarah Wootten, veterinarian and veterinary expert at Pumpkin Pet Insurance, suggests, “A soft-sided box that fits under the seat in front of you. It’s also helpful if both the top and sides are open.”
Sherpa Ultimate on Wheels Dog and Cat Carrier ($65.99, original $152.05; chewy.com)
Sherpa Ultimate allows you to access your pet from the front or the side. Plus, it has wheels as well if you need easier commuting through a busy airport. One of Melillo’s favorite airlines, it fits most airline seats without any problem.
Frisco Premium Dog and Cat Carrier (starting at $29.17; chewy.com)
This soft, budget-friendly carrier lets you comfortably reach your pet either from the top or from the side. Fits most airline seats, while the zipper lock prevents your pet from becoming an escape artist.
This carrier wins over pet parents with its unique versatility. The sides of this carrier, made of mesh to enhance ventilation and visibility, extend outward, like a camping tent. When you reach your destination, your pet has more room to spread out.
If you are the proud parent of a large puppy or cat, you will need a crate, also known as a kennel, for air travel. You might also want to get one for your road trip, depending on how comfortable you are with Rufus lumbering around your SUV.
Wooten showed us. “Look for a hard-sided box that complies with IATA and TSA live animal regulations for air travel, or has a crash safety rating for vehicle travel.” She adds that the crate should be large enough especially for air travel so that the dog can turn around and stand without his ears touching the top.
This product was recommended by Wooten, and it is also a favorite among Melillo customers. Comes in six sizes. Includes clip-on receptacles and special identification labels. Meets most air freight requirements. Wootten tells us that “it can also be restricted to vehicle use.”
Available in sizes up to XXXL, this box is IATA approved and meets most airline shipping requirements. The bowls attached to the cart will keep the cart nourished and watered during its journey. The wheels are removable. A woolen bed perfectly fitting indoors is available separately.
This kennel meets all IATA requirements and comes in four sizes. The door has a latch that allows you to open it with one hand, so it is convenient when you are on the go. One happy reviewer notes that it’s really easy to assemble. Another praises it as the only box her dog couldn’t chew.