Best Dog Carriers for Airplane Travel

The variety of dog carriers available is enough to make even the most experienced traveler think twice about bringing the dog along on an airplane. Dog air travel is stressful enough without struggling to decide which dog carrier to buy, so plan ahead and arrive at the airport with the best dog carrier.

Types of Dog Travel Carriers

There are two primary types of dog carriers designed for dog air travel:

  • Carry on - Each airline has different regulations, but typically small dogs that are able to fit under an airplane seat may be brought in the cabin with you in a carry on dog carrier. If you are traveling with your pet, carry on carriers allow you to monitor your dog's condition during the flight.
  • Cargo - If your dog is large and/or you are not traveling with your pet on the plane, the dog must be checked in with the luggage in cargo. Although your dog may be exposed to extreme hot or cold temperatures and you'll be unable to check on your dog's condition during the flight, you'll be able to purchase a roomier carrier that will help make your dog more comfortable.

Best Dog Air Travel Carrier Features

The most favorably rated pet travel carriers share the following features:

  • USDA approval - You will not be able to take a dog on an airplane in a carrier that is not USDA approved. These dog carriers have adequate ventilation holes, are frequently made of high density plastic (soft carriers are not acceptable for cargo travel) and include "LIVE ANIMAL" stickers.
  • Roomy - The flight will likely agitate your dog, particularly if the dog must be stored in cargo, so it's important to make sure the dog is as comfortable as possible. The dog carrier should allow the dog enough room to stretch and change position. Two dogs sharing a carrier need even more room.
  • Water bottle or dish - Dogs should not travel on full stomachs and should avoid eating while on the flight if possible. However, they should have access to water. Dog carriers with snap-on water bottles or dog dishes (in which you can put frozen water to avoid spilling at first) can help ensure your pet's comfort.

Best Pet Travel Carrier Brands

Although there are a variety of reliable dog carrier from which to choose, vets, airlines and dog owners alike rate the following pet travel carrier brands favorably for air travel:

  • Sky Kennel - Extra ventilation, leak-proof bottoms and chrome-plated steel doors are just a few features of Sky Kennel carriers. Most major airlines recommend Sky Kennel more often than any other brand.
  • Teafco Argo - Sturdy but lightweight and with plenty of ventilation, Argo primarily offers soft carry on dog carriers designed for the small pet's comfort and the owner's convenience.

Other Pet Travel Concerns

Be sure to check with your airline before buy a dog carrier, as individual airlines have different rules when it comes to dog and carrier size. You'll need to provide the airline with a health certificate for your dog on the day of the flight and don't forget to write your name, address and phone number on the dog's carrier and on your dog's tag, particularly if your dog will be separated from you during the flight.