You live and play with your Pet. It’s part of the family. So, it’s only natural to want to take your companion with you on trips. While the bag you saw at the Pet store may seem like the perfect carrier, it might not be the best travel accessory. By understanding the different options available, you will purchase a Pet carrier that appropriately secures your travel buddy and makes it feel comfortable.
The Best Pet Carrier
The best carrier depends on your Pet’s size and weight, as well as your method of travel. When considering a carrier for your Pet, answer the following questions to ensure that it is the best option for your needs:
• Is the carrier large enough for your Pet? A carrier’s height should reach a Pet’s shoulders. The carrier should be large enough for your Pet to turn around completely.
• Are structural pressure points in the bag reinforced so the carrier (particularly the roof) doesn’t collapse inward?
• Is the carrier balanced and level so it’s comfortable for your Pet to lie in and for you to carry?
• Is there a leash or a different mechanism within the carrier to restrain your pet?
• Are there fasteners over zippers or snaps to prevent escapes?
• Does the carrier provide proper ventilation?
• Can your Pet see out while in the carrier?
• If the carrier has straps, are they padded and adjustable?
• Does the carrier allow you to store essentials like a leash, waste bags and a blanket?
• Is the carrier appropriate and safe for your travel method?
• Is the carrier simple to clean?
If you are catching a flight with your Pet, refer to the airline’s guidelines regarding carriers. In general, carry-on carriers should have mesh ventilation, padding and water-repellant fabric. Soft-sided bags are a good choice. Keep in mind that the carrier must fit in the area below a seat. When your Pet must travel in the cargo area, a carrier with a hard plastic shell will protect it from bumps.
Pet Carrier Types
Soft-sided bags are a good choice if you don’t travel with your Pet often. The best bags are comfortable to carry (look for those with handles and straps) and simple to clean in the event of an accident. Good models open at the top, like a bag, and on the side. If you are traveling by air or for an extended period in a car, the carrier’s roof should not collapse.
Soft-sided bags are best for small- and medium-sized Pets that aren’t too heavy to carry. Pets that are nervous in enclosed spaces tend to do best in carriers with generously sized mesh panels.
Pet Carrier Backpacks
Instead of having traditional straps, some Pet carriers are backpacks (or convert into them). This type of carrier is good when taking your Pet on public transit. It is also an excellent option when you want to take your Pet to an area with a lot of foot traffic and keep your hands free.
Pet backpacks are generally best for smaller Pets. Since a good carrier allows a Pet to turn around, those designed for larger Pets might feel cumbersome to wear, depending on the situation.
Wheeled Pet carriers work similarly as carry-on luggage. In fact, some luggage manufacturers sell Pet carrier and luggage combinations. Wheeled carriers are a good option to keep your arms and shoulders from tiring, especially if your Pet is heavier. They are also beneficial for Pets that tend to experience motion sickness when jostled in a bag too much.
There are several styles of wheeled carriers, from soft-sided bags to larger hard-sided crates. Look for one that is comfortable for your Pet and meets your travel needs.
Standard hard-sided crates are a good option for car travel, as the rigid sides protect Pets from bumps. They are also appropriate for air travel in a plane’s cargo area. Most hard-sided crates, however, do not have pockets or storage options.
When you want to go on a walk with your Pet, but it isn’t up for an outing, consider a Pet stroller. This type of carrier is a good option for Pets that tire quickly or have limited mobility, like those that are older or injured.
When shopping for a Pet stroller, look for one that accommodates your Pet’s weight and size.
Pet Trailers for Bikes
Some Pet stores sell special baskets designed to hang off the front of a bicycle. While they offer a fun way to spend time with your companion, they may not restrain a Pet well or, more importantly, protect them if you have an accident. A better option is a Pet trailer that you tow behind your bicycle.
As with a Pet stroller, the trailer should be appropriate for your Pet’s weight and size.
Training a Pet to Use a Carrier
Some Pets enjoy traveling in carriers, as the smaller space makes them feel safe and secure. However, don’t feel defeated if you purchase a Pet carrier that your companion initially refuses to use. Unless a Pet previously learned to use a carrier, it might feel nervous in a small space. With regular training, your Pet will adapt to the compact design and may even enjoy it.
Instead of bringing out the carrier when it’s time to go on a trip, make the carrier a regular household accessory, like the Pet bed. This makes your Pet used to seeing and being around the carrier. Praise your Pet when it explores the carrier. Reward it when it goes inside. But, don’t close the carrier right away.
After your Pet feels more comfortable going inside the carrier, close the door or flap for a short period and sit with it. When you work up to longer periods with the carrier closed, pick it up so your Pet gets used to the sensation of being lifted and moved. With patience and consistency, traveling in a carrier will be a normal part of life for your Pet.
Pet carriers make traveling with your favorite companion enjoyable and safe. If you are not sure about what type of carrier to choose for your Pet or it exhibits persistent behavioral problems when it’s inside, consult a veterinarian.