How To Choose the Right Dog Carrier

Key Points

  • Material matters and different modes of travel require different materials.

  • Keep your dogs and your comfort in mind when picking a carrier, as an uncomfortable carrier is out of the question.

  • Make sure your carrier has proper airflow, as overheating is a huge problem.

You want nothing but the best for your dog, which includes choosing the right dog carrier. From ensuring your pet's safety while traveling to providing them with a comfortable space, the right carrier is crucial.

You need to take a lot into consideration while selecting the perfect carrier. Size, material, secure closures, ventilation, and comfort features are just a handful to name.

It is a sad fact of life, but dogs simply aren't around as long as humans are. Dino and Ruby's mom knew that and decided that she was going to take her dogs traveling with her. She states in her video from July 18, 2023, that she only had 12 summers with them. While dogs do live past the age of 12, it is important to make the most of the time you get with your dog.

If you are ready to travel, it is time to get that carrier ready for the adventures ahead. Read on to see how easy it is to find the right carrier for you and your pup.

Determine the Size and Weight Capacity Needed

Understanding your dog's size and weight is crucial when choosing a carrier. A carrier too small leaves your pet feeling uncomfortably cramped, while a carrier too big doesn’t offer enough security during your travels. 

To get the best measurement, start from the tip of your dog’s nose to the base of the tail. Then, measure from the floor to the highest point for height. Add a few inches to these measurements for your carrier size.

When it comes to weight, follow the weight restrictions on the box or website. It's usually best to choose a carrier above your dog's weight to ensure safety and durability. Most carriers cater to small dog breeds, so keep that in mind.

Consider the Material and Durability

You can find dog carriers in plastic, metal, and fabric. Plastic ones are light and easy to clean, but heavy chewers normally love chewing their way out. Metal carriers are sturdy but heavy, making them less portable for many people. Fabric carriers are light and fit under airplane seats, but they are less durable than others. 

Metal carriers are ideal for air cargo travel, while fabric ones are perfect for car travel and short distances. If your dog travels in various ways, consider having one carrier for each situation.

Before settling on one, look at customer reviews and — if possible — take the carrier out for a stress test. With everything you get your pet, check it over for any apparent weaknesses. If you find one, return it and seek another option. 

Check for Secure Closures and Fastenings

Security is a prime factor when it comes to dog carriers. The last thing you want is to have your dog escape from the carrier, especially in unfamiliar environments. Owners of Houdini dogs know that secure closures and fasteners aren’t just a luxury item. These closures have to stand up to even the sneakiest of dogs.

Common carrier closures include zippers, Velcro, and locks on doors. Ensure that the closure is difficult for your dog to open but easy for you. One of the easiest methods is having a buckle that attaches on the zipper and the bag to keep the zipper in place. 

Take some time to test every closure and fastening on the carrier. Make sure it’s secure and withstands some pressure. People often overlook examining doors and openings on carriers, and that mistake is what leads to dogs getting out in potentially dangerous situations. 

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Ensure Proper Ventilation and Airflow

Good ventilation is essential for keeping your dog comfortable and safe during travel. It not only helps regulate temperature but also ensures that your dog can comfortably breathe.

The American Kennel Club states that “[f]rantic panting, extreme salivation, bright-red membranes, and labored breathing are clear warning signs that your dog is overheated and may quickly progress to a metabolic meltdown as his temperature rises to over 106 degrees Fahrenheit and he can no longer cool themself.” 

If your dog doesn’t have the proper ventilation, then overheating happens. Getting a dog cool after that is difficult.

Check for multiple ventilation openings, preferably on each side of the carrier. Mesh material is typically used in soft carriers for airflow. However, for hard carriers, ample and large air holes work at keeping air flow going through the carrier. 

If you frequently travel in warm climates, prioritize carriers with superior ventilation features. For colder climates, your dog's warmth may be more important, so look for a balance between ventilation and insulation.

Assess the Ease of Cleaning and Maintenance

Keeping the carrier clean is vital for your pet’s health and well-being. Cleaning can also extend the lifespan of the carrier.

Hard-plastic carriers are often the easiest to clean. Fabric carriers, particularly those with removable covers, are typically machine washable. Metal carriers are easy to clean, but the potential for rust is there if the carrier isn’t dried properly each time. 

While hard carriers might be easier to clean, soft carriers may provide more comfort. Consider your priorities and how much time and effort it takes to clean each type of carrier to find the one that suits your lifestyle. 

Evaluate Comfort Features Such As Padding and Straps

Padded walls and floors make a huge difference to your pet's comfort during travel. Make sure it is neither too thin nor thick. Too clumpy of padding makes for less room for your pet inside.

Don't forget your own comfort while carrying the carrier. Look for wide, padded straps and securely fastened handles. An adjustable, removable shoulder strap also feels better during long travels.

Always aim for a balance between your dog's comfort in the carrier and your ease in carrying it. While padding, weight, and ease of opening are critical for your pet, handles, straps, and weight distribution matter for you.

Take Into Account Your Specific Travel Needs and Regulations

If you fly often with your dog, familiarize yourself with airline regulations about carrier sizes, materials, and design. Most airlines have strict rules regarding pet carriers.

For car travel, carriers that get seatbelted are safer. If you take public transport often, a light, soft-sided carrier is far more suitable for the weight and ease factors. For hiking or long walks, consider a backpack-style carrier.

Having a versatile carrier that adapts to different modes of travel adds to the convenience. While the cost is often more expensive up front, the longevity of these carriers pays for themselves over time. 

Travel Safe

Choosing a dog carrier involves considering a variety of factors, from size and weight to material and design, security to comfort, cleaning ease to regulations, and travel needs. Make sure you review all these aspects before making a purchase.

Your dog's comfort and safety while traveling is just as important as your comfort transporting them. If you aren't comfortable, then chances are your dog isn't either.

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