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savvy shopping

The best dog travel crates

Updated June 23, 2020

Created By

Seraine Page,

How we picked our favorites

We talked specs with a pet travel expert — Danny Romero’s a journalist and travel expert who’s adventured in 22 different countries with his pup Rocky. He helped us identify quality crates and hone in on the features that matter — like checking whether crates have been crashed tested or not. Above all else, crates should be comfortable (even when shaking) and have sturdy doors.

We focused on a variety of options — There are a million different travel crates to choose from. Some people have to fly international and some people wanna haul their pup in the back of the minivan. Our selection of crates covers most scenarios.

the essentials

  • Crates make for safer furbaby travel. Whether you’re traveling by boat, plane, car, or train, having a sturdy crate can help your pup feel secure when venturing into new situations.
  • Your budget and travel type will play a role in your crate selection.  Some crates can cost upward of $500. If your dog is simply going to be at your feet on a plane ride, though, you may not want a hard, plastic crate.
  • Planning ahead is a must. You know how much effort it takes to travel alone. When you’re adding a dog into the mix, you’ll need to know USDA regulations, update vaccines, call ahead for extra pet meds, etc.

How to shop for the right travel crate

Looking to hit the road, skies, or rail and planning to take Fluffy with you? Since you love your furbaby like family, you’ll want to make sure they have the best dog travel crate to make traveling a safe experience. Whether you’re traversing by car, plane, or train, your companion will need to be secured.

While there aren’t necessarily “breed-specific” dog travel crates, ensuring you have your dog’s proper measurements will help you pick the perfect one. Measuring your dog for the correct crate size before you order yours will minimize the chance of selecting the wrong one.

Measuring your dog is the most important thing you can do

You’ll need to measure your dog’s length and height. Before purchase, always be sure to check on the weight limit of the travel crate, too.

No matter what type of crate you pick, the biggest benefit of using one is encasing your precious furbaby from unpredictable travel mishaps. Aside from safety, purchasing an easy-to-clean, lightweight, well-ventilated crate will make traveling much easier for you and your pooch.

Here are a few more things to consider

Aside from keeping your dog safe, the ideal travel dog crate will be spacious, well-ventilated, and a place of comfort for your pup.

Make sure it’s sturdy — The last travel mishap you need is a broken zipper, torn strap, or busted plastic on your travel dog crate. You definitely don’t want it breaking mid-trip. Invest in a high-quality option from the start!  A warranty is never a bad idea.

Think about appropriate ventilation — Your dog should have plenty of ventilation in its crate, whether it’s a plastic, metal, or fabric crate.

Think about weight — If you’ll be dashing from terminal to terminal, consider adding wheels or having a very lightweight carrier that’s easy to bring along.

If you can, do a trial run — You don’t want to get frustrated with learning how to use the crate latches, zippers, etc. while you’re dealing with the stress of travel. Make sure to do a few trial runs (and break downs, if it does so) prior to your travel date. Otherwise, just make sure to pick one with free return shipping.

Travel tips

Travel isn’t just stressful for humans. Dogs can feel your worry and tension, too. If possible, try and plan ahead (and prepare) as much as possible before the trip. No matter your mode of transportation, do your best to keep your dog comfortable. Whenever you plan to travel, setting up a vet appointment to get the all-clear is a great idea (and in some cases, required), too.

Some questions to consider before you go: 

  • How will I travel?
  • Is my dog in good enough health to travel?
  • What will I do in the event of a pet health emergency?
  • Will I need to plan ahead for pet-friendly hotels?
  • What special accommodations do I need to make based on the weather?

Traveling by car

Just as you buckle up, you’ll want to keep your dog secured in their crate for the duration of the trip.  If not using a crate, don’t let your pooch hang out the window (as cute as that is to see in your side-view mirror, it runs a risk of debris getting into their eyes or ears).

A few other tips for the road trip: 

  • Get in some short car trips before the big travel day
  • Never leave a dog alone in a hot car crated up
  • Stretch your legs and break up driving after a few hours at a time
  • Bring a favorite toy or bone to make your dog feel secure
  • Give your dog ⅓ of their normal food intake prior to travel and to avoid an upset tummy

Note: If you don’t want to use a crate to secure your pooch, consider a seatbelt restraint. It’s an affordable option that allows your dog a little more freedom to do fun dog things like look out the window. 🐶

Taking to the skies

Airports are notorious for long lines and delays. Aside from getting there with plenty of time to spare before your flight, make sure you allow your dog to stretch and get some fresh air, too. They’ll be crated up for a good amount of time (even without delays), so a final outdoor potty break is a good idea prior to check-in.

👉 Here’s our guide to planning a stress-free flight with you pupper, along with a breakdown of all the major airline policies.

Note: Some airlines specialize in taking care of dogs who fly. In fact, American Airlines flew the U.S. Naval Academy’s mascot to its college bowl game. Every airline is different. Some may only allow service or emotional support dogs to fly in the cabin while others need to go below in cargo. Call ahead before you book.

Traveling with a dog is a skill

Preparation is key to making sure traveling with your pet is successful as it reduces anxiety for you and them. Create a master to-do list for yourself and include your pet’s needs on it, too, so you don’t forget anything major.

Another great idea? The <a href=”https://www.akc.org/public-education/resources/general-tips-information/travel/”>American Kennel Club </a>recommends bringing along current pictures of your dog in the event they get lost.

And last but not least, try to stick to similar routines to reduce anxiety for your pet (keep evening walk schedules, if possible, for example). This will give your pet a sense of comfort that not all is changing in their world.

Ask your vet, too, for their best tips on how to travel with a dog. They’ll have the medical insight and resources for you and your furry friend to have the best trip ever.