For many of us, pets are more than just companions. They’re family members that deserve the best pet carriers so that they can travel with us in safety. They also deserve a little comfort and style. Let’s have a look at some popular types of pet carriers, and see if we can find the best one for your fuzzy friend.

Features of the Best Pet Carriers

Let’s talk about features. When considering pet carriers, it’s essential that you get the right pet carrier for the right job. In addition to price, here are a few things to consider.

Is it fit for purpose?

Different situations call for different pet carriers. If your dog is traveling in the cargo hold of an airplane, you will need a completely different dog carrier than if you’re taking the bus to the beach. Small animals need a small animal carrier, while large dogs need a large pet carrier, possibly on wheels. When you’re shopping for the best pet carriers, think about where you’re traveling and how.

Is it comfortable?

Will your pet carrier provide adequate ventilation? If you’re traveling in cold weather, will your cat carrier or dog carrier be warm enough? Is it soft inside and supportive on the outside? Can your pet see outside, and can you easily comfort them if you need to?

Airline-Compliant Pet Carriers

If you’re traveling with your pet, you have two options. Airlines often allow animals to travel in the cabin with their owners if their carrier can fit under the seat. But what if your pet is too big? Or what if you and your pet are traveling separately? In these cases, your pet will have to travel in the baggage hold. And airlines have a lot of rules about the kinds of pet carriers that can go there.

First, airline compliant pet carriers must be crates with a hard shell. Second, they must be large enough for your pet to stand up, sit erect, lie in a natural position, and turn around inside. In addition, they must have adequate ventilation. They must also have a place for a water source. The airlines have strict regulations about carriers because they want your pets to be safe and comfortable during their flight.

Unsure how big your crate should be? Use this handy calculator to figure it out. IATA, the International Air Transport Association, gives its stamp of approval to transport crates that meet airline standards. So when you’re looking for a travel crate, make sure to look for IATA approval. The Pet Travel Store is a great place to find IATA compliant pet carriers.

PetMate Sky Kennel

You can find a dog carrier in any size.

The PetMate Sky Kennel, available from Amazon.

The Pet Mate Sky Kennel is a highly rated, moderately priced IATA compliant travel crate. It’s made from heavy-duty plastic and comes in six different sizes. In addition, the Sky Kennel is made in the United States.

Sport Pet Kennel on Wheels

The best pet carriers are large enough for your pet to lie down.

SportPet Kennel on Wheels, available at Amazon.

The SportPet travel kennel comes in five different sizes. In addition, the four larger sizes come with wheels for easy transport. These kennels are IATA compliant. They are also equipped with “live animal” stickers and a water dish. The SportPet kennel is available from Amazon.

Soft-Sided Pet Carriers

If your pet is traveling with you in an airplane cabin — or anywhere else — a soft-sided carrier can be a good option. Soft carriers, made from fabric, vinyl, or other materials, are easier to handle than bulky crates. Many of them have handles or shoulder straps. You can even wear some soft sided pet carriers on your chest like a baby carrier! A lot of these are small animal carriers, though, some come sized for medium sized animals as well. In addition, the ones we’ve chosen work equally well as a cat carrier or a dog carrier.


Some cats like to sleep in their cat carrier.

The Sleepypod Small Animal Carrier and Portable Bed, available from Amazon.

This is an attractive combination carrier and bed, made specifically for smaller pets. This small animal carrier will hold animals up to 15 pounds, which makes it a good cat carrier as well as dog carrier. In addition, if your pet uses the Sleepypod as a bed at home, it can make travel less stressful for them — and for you. This pet carrier has a shoulder strap, for easy carrying. It also comes with a warming pad, in case you’re traveling in cold weather.

The Sherpa Deluxe

Take your small animal carrier with you wherever you go.

The Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carrier, available from Amazon.

The square, soft-sided design is a popular one, and for good reason. Mesh sides mean good ventilation. In addition, your pet can see everything that’s going on outside, while safe inside the carrier. This pet carrier has a spring wire frame, which means it can squeeze underneath an airplane seat and bounce back into shape afterward. It comes in different sizes and has a handy pocket for treats. In addition, these pet carriers are approved for in-cabin flight on most domestic U.S. flights.

The Outward Hound Pooch Pouch

This dog carrier lets you carry your pet like a baby.

The Outward Hound Pooch Pouch, available on Amazon.

Outward Hound makes outdoor gear for dogs and the people who love them. In addition to backpacks that dogs can wear, they make backpacks that allow you to wear your dog. You can wear the Pooch Pouch on your back like a backpack, or on your chest like a baby carrier. It’s made from waterproof nylon ripstop fabric that allows for plenty of airflow. In addition, it comes with a safety clip, so you can tether your pup for safe travels.

Pet Carriers with Wheels

Your pet may be your best friend, but it doesn’t mean they’re not heavy. If you’re looking at long travel times, or if your companion is on the larger size, a dog carrier or cat carrier with wheels may be exactly what you’re looking for. Here are some good ones.

Pet Luv Stroller

The best pet carriers let your pet see outside.

The PetLuv Pet Stroller, available from Amazon.

Your pet can travel in comfort and style with this multi-function carrier. Not only does it come with a little plush mattress, but it also has removable wheels. This means that the carrier can function as a crate or bed at home. In addition, it comes in different sizes, so you can use it as a small animal carrier, as well as a dog carrier for medium sized dogs.

Sherpa On Wheels

Some pet carriers come in several sizes.

The Sherpa on Wheels, for Small, Medium, and Large Dogs. Available from Amazon.

Sherpa also makes a larger version of its soft-sided carrier, and this one has wheels. You can carry it on your shoulder with the convenient shoulder strap, but it also rolls flat. The shoulder strap converts to a convenient pull handle. In addition, mesh panels and roll down flaps make it easy to customize this carrier for your pet’s comfort.

Just the Wheels, Man

You'll want wheels on your pet carrier if you have a big dog.

Dog Crate Dolly, available from Amazon.

Maybe you already have a crate, and just need the wheels. You can do that, too! This one is easy to assemble, made from strong steel, and comes with a one year warranty.

Barking up the Right Tree

Your pet deserves to travel in comfort and safety, whether you’re walking to the cafe or flying around the world. Make sure you get the right pet carrier for the job. In addition to price, consider comfort and purpose. Make sure your pet carrier is big enough for your pet to be comfortable but small enough for you to manage on your own. Look for quality of craftsmanship and materials. Your pet is depending on you. Don’t let them down.


Featured Image: CC by 2.0, by Ray Devlin, via Wikimedia Commons

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