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4 best dog carriers for 2023, approved by vets

Updated February 5, 2023

Take your pet on an adventure with these safe and handy travel carriers.

Travel in style and comfort with these convenient and safe dog carrier and dog carrier backpack options, all vet-approved for your peace of mind! Every option on this list has been thoroughly tested and evaluated by our team of pet parents and vets, offering you the most trustworthy and transparent reviews of each available choice. Here are our top picks.

Best dog carrier options, reviewed

#1 Best overall: Cinf Small Cat Dog Pet Puppy Carrier Backpack

Why we recommend this dog carrier

This travel bag is brightly covered for easy identification and safe travel. The fit isn’t quite snug, but it is secure, giving pets and owners peace of mind for the travel day. Our review team found that this travel bag is best for small and mid-sized dogs, offering a seriously roomy and sturdy ride. There are plenty of pockets for storing all your adventure essentials, too, meaning your pet won’t have to go without the necessities at any point in your journey.

pros cons
✓ Comfortable for short travels or day trips ✗ Less back padding than other options on this list
✓ Adjustable strap and latch support for a comfortable fit
✓ Sturdy bottom for a range of breeds and sizes

Features of the Cinf carrier

  • Size: Carriers range from 9.45” x 6.3” x 9.1” to 11” x 8.66” x 10.24” to support a comfy fit for small- to medium-sized pets
  • Colors/patterns: You can purchase this carrier in mauve pink, deep black, or teal color to match your pet’s persona.
  • Materials: This carrier is crafted from pet-safe polyester for durability and breathability on your journey.
  • Number in a package: 1

Overview of the Cinf carrier

Our review team found that this carrier was simple to assemble and durable in all the right places. While the lack of back padding may make this an uncomfortable fit for some during longer trips, we believe that it is versatile and well-crafted enough to take on nearly every adventure.

Best dog carrier Cinf backpack

We tested the blue Cinf backpack.

#2 Best for small pups: YUDODO Pet Dog Sling Carrier

Why we recommend the YUDODO sling

Our review team recommends this product specifically for small to medium-sized pups. While the YUDODO bag comes in a variety of sizes ranging from small to large, we believe it would be most comfortable and safe for smaller breeds.

Beyond the versatility and durability in the bag’s sleek design, we appreciated the adjustability of the strap for an extra layer of comfort and security, as well as the quality of construction. Despite the mesh exterior, it was comfortable and soft to the touch, and breathable enough for long-term wear. We didn’t even notice it was on after the first few minutes!

pros cons
✓ Convenient, hands-free design for comfort and ease ✗ Limited size range for larger breeds
✓ Extra padding and adjustability along the strap and shoulder area to suit all body types ✗ May not be suitable for pups with joint issues or those with difficulty standing or sitting for long periods of time
✓ Extra drawstring attachment fits to the girth of your furry friend’s head, offering an extra layer of protection

Features of the YUDODO sling

  • Size: This product ranges from 14.96” x 3.94” x 7.78” to 15” x 3.9” x 7.8” – offering options for both small to mid-size breeds.
  • Colors/patterns: The product comes in 10+ styles. Some favorites we spotted include black, pink, and cyan, all of which can be ordered with extra breathability or reflective support.
  • Materials: Leather & mesh
  • Number in a package: 1

Overview of the YUDODO sling

Our review team appreciated the lightweight and durable construction, obvious from our very first interaction with the product. Our testing pup enjoyed a snug, safe ride, and the sling offered fantastic support in the footwell area for easy lounging. While it’s an excellent pet carrier choice for calm, smaller dogs, we do want to note that due to the more narrow entry port and constrictive design, this sling may not suit more anxious or wiggly pups or large dogs. With enough pulling and wriggling, our team was concerned that your pet may be able to escape if they go unsupervised or unnoticed for too long. Beyond this singular point of concern, however, our team feels confident in this product for pups who are well-adjusted to travel and the sensory experience of the great outdoors.

YUDODO best dog carrier for small dogs

Gracie and Summer tried out the YUDODO sling.

#3 Best for airports: Kinsuite Pet Backpack Travel Carrier

Why we recommend the dog carrier

Our review team strongly recommends the Kinsuite backpack carrier, especially if you plan to fly with your pup. The sturdy and comfortable design is complemented by a variety of travel options, including both straps and wheel sets – giving you a personalized travel experience with every use. Constructed primarily out of comfortable and breathable mesh, your pet will be able to get a bird’s eye view of their surroundings, offering them a more comfortable and calming travel experience.

pros cons
✓ Safe, secure and sturdy with an easy-fold design for storage between adventures ✗ May not be TSA approved for certain airlines
✓ Accessible and affordable price for quality of craftsmanship
✓ Zipper is sturdy yet sleek to operate, giving you 24/7 access with little-to-no risk of escape

Features of the Kinsuite backpack

  • Size: This product can fit medium-sized dogs and smaller breeds, coming in at a total measurement of 39.9” x 16.5” x 18.5.”
  • Colors/patterns: With this pet carrier, you can choose from a bright blue or a brilliant red to complement your luggage set.
  • Materials: This carrier is constructed from lightweight plastic and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) material.
  • Number in a package: 1

Overview of the Kinsuite backpack

When our team received the backpack, we were pleasantly surprised at the durability and flexibility of the construction. Our test pet enjoyed it as well, having some room to wiggle around and settle down before we started on a short walk around the house. It took less than a minute to assemble and fold down easily for simple storage and management. Despite our test pup digging vigorously for five or so minutes, the zippers withstood the force and strain, keeping her securely in place until she found a comfortable riding position.

Kinsuite best dog carrier

Gracie tries out the Kinsuite backpack.

#4 Best for storage: Pet Gear Signature Pet Safety

Why we recommend the dog carrier

Our team couldn’t get enough of the Pet Gear Signature. It’s incredibly versatile, storage-friendly, and easy to use, equipped with a seat belt strap setup and full-on safety tether. Though we tested it with cats, it’s plenty big enough for small dogs. Multiple pockets offer storage for treats, leashes, and harnesses.

pros cons
✓ More storage options available than many other models on the market ✗ Mesh may not be suitable for nervous breeds or power chewers
✓ Strong reinforced carry handles allow for seamless and safe transport ✗ May not be airline compliant across all lines due to size and dimensions
✓ Car-friendly; comes equipped with multiple points of entry, tethers and a seatbelt security system ✗ May not accommodate larger breeds

Features of the Pet Gear Signature

  • Size: This product is better for smaller breeds, coming in at a dimensional footprint of 19” x 12.5” x 12”
  • Colors/patterns: You can keep it bright or neutral with either aqua or black versions of this carrier.
  • Materials: This carrier is constructed from luxurious fleece and reinforced small-aperture mesh for a secure travel experience.
  • Number in a package: 1

Overview of the Pet Gear Signature

Our review team loved the spaciousness of this carrier. The carrier unzips across every plane of use, allowing you to give your pet the care they need when you’re on the go. It was roomy enough to fit multiple small pets and is safe to do so up to a strong (and cumulative) 20 pounds.

For its overall internal space and storage setup, our review team believed that this bag was competitively priced, giving you a great option to consider if you’re in the market for a pet carrier that excels in functionality and storage.

Best Cat Carrier Pet Gear display

A guide to choosing the best dog carrier for your needs

You want your adventures to be as safe as possible for your pup – which is why choosing a reliable dog carrier is so important. Luckily for you, our test team has done the heavy lifting, picking and choosing only the best dog carrier options above. Read on for our top tips on choosing the right dog carrier for you.

Weigh and measure your pet

Your furry friend’s unique weight and dimensions can play a large role in the safety and comfort of your carrier’s overall fit. Knowing their current measurements can give you the foundation you need for a seriously solid carrier choice.

Dog riding in a bike carrier

Check travel restrictions

Not all carriers that claim to be TSA-compliant truly are. Whether you’re going by boat, train, plane, or simply looking for a good walkabout carrier, understanding your terrain is important when selecting the best dog carrier for your pal.

Dog walking alongside owner on a trail

Keep it breathable

It can get hot in such a small space! Keeping your material as breathable as possible can help you and your furry friend have the best possible experience when you hit the road.

Man carrying dog in a backpack

Safety first

Is your furry friend an escape artist? Every pup has the potential to be one. Looking for carriers with safety in mind (such as extra harness or hook loops, straps, buckles, and closures) will help your pet stay safely by your side for the duration of your journey.

Dog riding up front in a car

Why trust betterpet?

The writers, editors, and staff of betterpet are pet parents, and we know the value of accurate, trustworthy information. Because of this, the products we review are approved by our vets. We tested these best dog carrier options in-house, so you can trust that when we say a dog carrier is on the best dog carrier list, it deserves to be there.

Frequently asked questions

Are soft-sided dog carriers or hard-sided carriers better?

We think it depends on your use case. While soft-sided carriers are a great and breathable option for versatile or on-lap travel, hard dog carriers offer extra structural support, which can be handy for airplane trips or long-haul excursions. Connecting with your vet and considering elements such as your dog’s size and temperament can help you to make the best possible choice.

Are dogs comfortable in carriers?

Some pet parents may worry about the comfort of their pup when they’re on the road. Thankfully, most carriers are specifically designed to help your pet travel well while keeping them as safe as possible.

How long can dogs stay in a carrier?

The answer to this question is subjective and based on your pup’s temperament. If they are more anxious or energetic, you may need to break every hour or two to give them time to run around and potty. However, if they’re older and more sedentary (and well-potty-trained), you could probably get away with a few hours. Our general rule of thumb? Take them out when possible, especially when you take your own rest stops. Planning can help you to do this well on longer trips