Basic Pet Care

Finding the Right Carrier for Travel and Transport

Finding the Right Carrier for Travel and Transport

Life is simply better with a pet by your side. So when you want or need to travel, arrange to take your best companion along. For their protection, make sure that you have a proper carrier before you set off on a journey. Depending on the mode of transportation and your pet's size, a restraint, a soft-sided kennel or a hard-sided kennel may be best.

Traveling By Car

On a road trip, dogs and cats are best protected in a well-ventilated crate or carrier in the back seat that is secured. It should allow room for your pet to sit and stand. Some pet parents prefer to use a car seat with a harness, or simply a harness for a larger dog. If you like to shop online, check out pet supply stores, which offer a variety of items for traveling pets.

Note: Although your dog may revel in the smells that rush past through an open window, don't take a chance by leaving it down. Also, don't leave a pet alone in the car as temperatures can fluctuate greatly year round.

Traveling By Train

Amtrak permits pet parents to bring a dog or cat on most routes that is at least 8 weeks old and weighs 20 pounds or less, including the carrier. The fee is $25 for each travel segment, and reservations are required. The maximum size for carriers is 19" long x 14" wide x 10.5" high. They may be hard or soft-sided, but must be leak-proof and well ventilated. See the full policy here.

Traveling by Plane

Each airline has its own travel policies for pets. Check out to compare airline policies. You can also check the airline's website, but it is recommended to call the airline prior to booking your tickets to determine if pets can be booked on your specific flight. Airlines can set a maximum number of pets per cabin, so be sure there is room for your pet before you book your tickets. If you book your tickets online, contact the airline immediately afterwards to add your pet to your reservation

Cats and small dogs under 20 pounds are generally permitted to travel in a carrier, which must fit under the seat in the passenger cabin. Many airlines may accept larger animals, which are checked in with baggage or transported with the cargo. Some airlines refuse to accept snub-nosed dogs and cats at any time and may refuse to board any pets in cargo when a runway temperature is below 45 degrees and above 84 degrees Fahrenheit, as temperatures are not as well regulated in that section of the plane as in the passenger area.

Check the IATA (the International Air Transport Association) for advice on the types of carriers and containers required to ship animals.

Be sure to identify yourself as the pet's owner inside and outside any carrier. And for peace of mind and the best protection, confirm that your pet is microchipped and wears a collar tag before you set off on your next adventure.

Susan Breslow is the former Head of Publications for the ASPCA and the author of the children's book "I Really Want a Dog." She writes about pets and people and cares for rescued cocker spaniels