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When it comes to picking the right dog carrier, there are three primary areas of consideration—safety, comfort and ease of use. While most will check all three boxes, it’s important to do your homework to ensure the pet carrier you pick provides the very best in all three categories.
Keeping your dog safe while traveling is of utmost importance. When choosing a dog carrier, be sure it’s designed with a wide, sturdy base so it can’t tip as your dog moves and shifts her weight around. Make sure all doors and openings securely latch to keep your dog safely contained. And be sure the carrier you choose has plenty of ventilation. This is particularly important for nervous dogs who may anxiously pant while contained in her carrier.
You’ll also want to be sure your dog is comfortable while contained. Some are soft dog carriers that your dog will love cozying up against. Others are hard-sided dog carriers made with wire or plastic, adding rigidity, but cutting down on comfort. Whether made of hard or soft materials, a soft dog mat can make all the difference. Look for a dog carrier with a mat. Or if you’d rather chose your own dog mat, purchased separately, be sure to select one that fits well so it can’t shift as your dog moves about.
Be sure to choose a dog carrier that will be easy for you to use based on your needs. Some carriers feature multiple doors on the front, sides or even on top, making it easy for you dog to enter and exit no matter how they’re placed. Many soft designs are pre-approved for carry-on pet travel carrier, ensuring you get to your destination without issue. There are backpack-style dog carriers that are great when you need to carry your dog hands-free. And dog carriers with extra pockets are perfect for storing dog treats and food, or even your wallet, phone or other belongings.
When choosing your dog carrier, be sure it’s safe, comfortable and easy to use for years of fun, trip after trip. Chewy offers other great products that make traveling with your pup easier including dog seat belts, dog car seat covers, dog car seats, dog steps and ramps, dog blankets and furniture covers, dog GPS trackers and more. Shop Chewy's online pet store for all your dog supplies.
Get a dog carrier size large enough that your dog has room to turn around and stretch out to relax. You will also need to get a carrier built to hold your dog’s weight. Measure your dog’s back length and add a few inches to it to get an ideal carrier length. Then, add 2-3 inches to your dog’s shoulder height to calculate the right height for a soft-side carrier, or add 3-5 inches for a hard-sided carrier. Wearable carriers like slings can be more compact than travel carriers, so look for one with a snug, cozy fit that still leaves some room to move.
Put familiar things in a dog carrier to make your best friend feel at home. A cozy favorite blanket and some toys will help with comfort and distraction on the go, and their familiar smell will help ease travel jitters. Avoid putting food or water in the carrier, as these can spill and make an uncomfortable mess. Incontinent or older dogs may benefit from a puppy pad liner or absorbent bedding, as well.
A dog should stay in a carrier for as little time as is feasible and safe. On long car trips, take your dog out regularly so he can use the bathroom, drink water, stretch his legs, and eat, when necessary. During air travel, your dog will need to stay in the carrier for the duration of the trip, so try to get the shortest flights you can. Many dogs will be fine in a carrier even on longer flights but try not leave your dog in the carrier for longer than you must.
You can use a dog carrier as a crate. Make sure you choose one that is easy to clean, with durable construction since it will be used frequently. Dogs who chew or rowdy pups may need a wire or hard-sided crate to withstand the extra wear and tear.
The best dog carriers will have adequate ventilation, easy entry and sturdy construction to prevent escapes. Hard plastic carriers can provide extra protection during transit, and they are easy to clean and disinfect. Soft-sided carriers can provide more cushioning and comfort and give pups a better grip while on the move. Choose an airline-approved carrier if you intend to use it on flights, or, if you have a smaller dog, pick a backpack or sling carrier style for easy portability around town. You can even find wheeled dog carrier options that make canine transport smooth and easy.