No matter what kind of companion animal you have, at some point they’ll need to be transported somewhere. And no matter whether it’s to another city or just down the road, for safety’s sake they should always be put in a pet carrier unless they are restrained in a dog car seat or vehicle pet safety harness.
Not many years ago, the types of carriers available were very limited — usually just pet crates. But not so now. As pet travel has become more popular, pet product manufacturers have begun to offer many styles and types of pet carriers for just about any occasion. With a little research and knowing the size of your pet, you can find which carrier is the right fit for your pet travel needs.
Remember that size matters. A good rule of thumb is that if it’s in an enclosed space, your pet should be able to stand up and turn around, unless it’s a pet carrier you wear that holds your pet close to your body or it’s a purse-style carrier. You should choose one based on the size of your pet and the carrier’s dimensions. When measuring your pet, this pet sizing chart may be helpful in determining the length and height of your pet.
To save you some time and effort in selecting the right pet carrier, here are examples of what’s available and how they can best work for you.
All-metal crates come in many sizes, and some are even collapsible. They are useful in the house and, if not too big, can fit inside a car. If you need to take your dog to the vet, groomer, or just out for fun, he and you will be much safer if he’s in a crate in the rear of the vehicle. Larger metal pet crates for bigger dogs can also be strapped into the back of pick-up trucks when there’s no room for them in the cab. Remember, they will need to be covered in inclement weather, while providing plenty of ventilation.
As pet accessories have grown in popularity, traditional all-metal crates have evolved to include pet carriers of many shapes, sizes and materials. Here are two of the more popular types:
- Hard-shell, plastic pet carriers were developed specifically to help ease transportation difficulties. They have rounded corners to fit into vehicles more easily, and many offer better safety features. They usually are equipped with a handle on top for carrying. This type of pet carrier is a favorite among cat owners since their feline companions are sometimes not the best of travelers.
- Soft-sided pet carriers are newer still and are designed to be even more portable. There is usually little or no assembly required, they pack flat for easy transport and storage, and they are lighter to carry. They are a good choice for cats, especially the ones that have zippered openings at the top. Some soft-sided carriers are designed for birds, such as the PetPocket® Bird Carrier — equipped with a perch and removable tray.
The inspiration for poochie pouches for smaller pets might have come from the papooses used by Native American women to carry their babies. Perhaps even Mother Nature had an influence as evidenced by the built-in ones that female marsupials have. Trendy moms and dads can be seen everywhere showing off their human newborns in frontpacks — so why should your “fur-baby” be left out? Below are some of the advantages of these types of ultra-modern pet carriers:
- If you have a senior pet, he may not be able to get around very easily. Now you can carry him with you.
- If you have a sick pet, a sling or vest-style front pet carrier is ideal to get him out into the fresh air, to the vet, or to take him out to potty.
- Young puppies need protection from other dogs and the environment; now you can take him out safely and housetrain him at the same time by carrying him in and out to potty.
- Even if you just want to dash out to the store and don’t want to leave your pet behind, it’s so convenient to put him in a pet sling or pack, leaving your hands free for the cart.
- Vest-style pet carriers and pet slings are perfect for getting small dogs home clean and safe from the groomer.
Airline Approved Pet Carriers
If you plan to fly with your pet, make sure you contact the airline before you go. Airline pet policies vary from airline to airline — from the size of pet carriers that are permitted to whether the airline pet policy allows pets in the cabin. If your pet must go in the cargo area, a sturdy metal crate or plastic hard-shell pet carrier is essential. But if he’s small enough to go in the cabin with you, then his pet carrier must fit under your seat. There is a now an impressive range of under-the-seat hard-shell and soft-sided carriers available.
Alternative Safe Pet Travel Products
Pet crates have always been used for automobile travel and are still excellent for the job. But if you want an alternative for safe pet travel, check out some of the special dog car seats and vehicle pet safety harnesses. You are sure to find one that will be just right for your pet.
You may wonder why anyone uses a stroller for their pet — after all, dogs love to walk and need exercise. But not every dog or owner has the same needs. The following situations are perfect for strollers or wheeled carriers for pets:
- Your dog has an injury or is too old to walk far; yet you still want to take your pet along for a walk with you.
- You have pets of different ages — some of them can walk farther than others, but they all want to go along for the fun.
- You want to take your dog shopping — when he’s enclosed in a stroller, you can take him right in the store!
- Your neighborhood says you can’t walk your dog on the street.
- Your pet just got groomed, or you’re on your way to a dog show, and it’s raining.
- If you have several small dogs, you can take them all out together and no one gets tangled up!
- They’re safe if you run into strays or unruly dogs.
- You want to jog or roller blade, but he just can’t keep up with you.
Cats can enjoy pet strollers, too! If you are afraid to let your kitty go outside because he may get attacked or run over, put him in a stroller for a change of scenery, some fresh air, or just for doing something fun together.
Designer Pet Handbags and Pet Shoulder Bags
Pet travel has come a long way since Paris Hilton arrived on the small-dog scene. Designers are now having a field day, and the sky’s the limit when it comes to how you can move your little dog around. Pet carriers — in the form of shoulder bags or handbags — can now be fashion statements, and it’s possible to match them to your outfits, too! Fabulous fabrics such as leather, suede, and faux crocodile, and hot patterns such as leopard skin and plaid are available for the fashionista who is looking for the ultimate statement in a pet carrier. And if you want a pet carrier with a little more bling, there are many on the market adorned with sequins, crystals and charms. Or, be creative and apply your own for a totally custom look.
Safe Pet Travel
Above all else, remember that no matter which pet carrier you decide on, your pet’s safety is the most important thing. You can certainly have fun with your choice but not at the expense of your furry friend. Equipped with the right pet carrier, your next pet travel experience should fun and easy.