Whether you are traveling by car or in the cabin of an airplane, your pet carrier is your most important item to keep your pet safe and comfortable on the trip. A cat or dog airline carrier can be rigid or flexible and be just as effective.
Hard-Sided Pet Carrier
Soft-Sided Pet Carrier
Plastic Pet Carrier
If you are traveling by air, and your dog or cat is less than
approximately 14 pounds and 11" tall, it can travel with you in the cabin as long as the
airline's pet policy allows it and you have a suitable carrier. Your pet carrier must be able to fit under the seat in front of you, and your pet must be able to
stand up and turn around comfortably.
Although the size standards vary by airline, here are the average maximum carrier measurements that airlines generally allow:
- hard-sided kennels - 17.5 inches long x 12 inches wide x 7.5 inches high (44 cm x 30 cm x 19 cm)
- soft-sided kennels - 18 inches long x 11 inches wide x 11 inches high (46 cm x 28 cm x 28 cm)
Most people traveling with a pet in the cabin by air will choose a soft-sided airline pet carrier. The reason for this is that these carriers are flexible and will "squish" down to fit under the seat thus allowing for a larger pet due to the added height of the carrier.
However, many pet travelers with very small dogs or cats such as toy breeds may
choose a rigid carrier. As long as the height of the carrier is 7.5" the
carrier should fit unless you are traveling on a very small commuter or express
airplane. In the case the rigid carrier has a wheel plate like the example
above, the depth of the carrier is important because the carrier will be
on its side when you put it under the seat.
If you are unsure of how much room there is under the seat on your plane, call the airlines and they will give you that information. Most oftentimes, a window seat will offer more privacy for your pet and less chance that electronics will block the space under the seat in front of you. Also avoid the exit aisles and bulkhead seats when traveling with a pet.
Requirements are that your airline pet carrier be secure (zippers, not snaps), have adequate ventilation, and a waterproof bottom. Don't forget to add a pet pad. Good pet carriers are not inexpensive and you don't want to be faced with getting rid of unpleasant smells after your trip. Also remember that your carrier must fit under the seat when your pet is laying down as you will encourage it to do when the plane is loading.
Please note that pets traveling in the cargo hold must use a cargo crate which differs from those shown above. More information on airline pet cargo crates.
If your airline allows other small animals other than cats and dogs in the cabin, you can also use the plastic pet carrier shown above or a small cargo crate. Examples of these animals would be a small rabbit, guinea pig, turtle or hamster. Be sure and include some absorbent material in the bottom of the carrier such as shredded newspaper and be sure that the carrier closes securely.
Automobile Pet Carriers
If you are traveling by automobile, you can choose many types of
carriers. All of the carriers shown above would be appropriate depending
on the size of your pet. Whichever one you choose, be sure and
secure safely in a seatbelt. Do not allow your pet to move freely in
your vehicle as this poses a grave safety hazard to the pet, driver and
passengers in the vehicle.
You can also choose a heavy, plastic cargo crate or a wire cage should you have the room on the back seat or drive a SUV. A crate such as this will help to keep your pet safe should the vehicle come to a sudden stop.