Finding the perfect pet was easy and now that you've found your fuzzy bundle of love you can't imagine going anywhere without him. Finding the best pet carrier can be more challenging. You need to find something which is comfortable, stylish, but also something which will work for your airline and won't cause a delay at security. To help you choose the best pet carry-on for you and your dog we've assembled some practical tips. Our top suggestions are sure to keep your pooch comfortable and protected during your next trip.
A big part of finding the best pet carrier for your dog is selecting a tote that's the correct size. No two dogs are exactly the same so this can be a tricky proposition. The height of your pet carry-on should come to the top of your dog's shoulders, not to the top of his or her head. Airlines have limited space so you should select a pet carry-on bag which is as small as possible while still allowing sufficient room for your pooch to turn around completely. Keep in mind that when a dog is circling, preparing to lie down he often does so with his head down ... that's why a shoulder-height bag will be comfortable for most dogs. The other advantage to selecting a small pet carrier is that the bag will weigh less, making it more comfortable for you to carry (meaning that you're more likely to take your special pooch to more exciting places!).
If you travel a lot and primarily fly with one airline it's a good idea to check in on their guidelines. This can be done via a call to their customer service number or you could see if the information is readily available on your airline's website. The majority of airlines have strict guidelines when it comes to both the size and weight of pet carriers (both for larger crates going in the cargo hold and for smaller carry-ons). Most airlines require that a pet carry-on be small enough to fit beneath the seat in front of you so if you have a larger dog you should choose the best pet carrier for your pet to ride comfortably in the cargo area. In terms of carry-on bags, most airlines expect a bag with plenty of padding, mesh panels to provide proper ventilation, and the carry-on should be constructed with soft, water-repellent fabric. If your pet is riding in the cargo bay of the plane we recommend investing in a crate with a hard plastic shell - something which will protect your pooch from bumps during the journey.
If you're in the market for the best pet carrier you should expect to spend some money, but think of that money as a long-term investment. A high-quality pet carry-on or cargo crate is an investment in your furry best friend's safety. The last thing you want to have happen mid-journey is for the fabric to rip and to have the bottom fall out of your poor dog's carrier. Look for bags with sturdy handles, rugged bottoms and high quality stitching. Mesh panels are important, and the location of those panels is equally important. Look closely at the top panel of any pet carrier you're considering as you'll be looking down at your pooch most of the time. Many people prefer pet carry-on cases which have a top opening. This allows them to pet their pooch and it also allows your dog to ride with his head outside of the bag if he's so inclined. If you can find a carry-on case for your pet that has extra pockets for a leash, treats or toys that's also a great feature. Last, but not least, make sure that your pet carrier has a locking device so that you can open the carrier from the outside but your pet is unable to work that zipper open from inside the case, escaping when you aren't paying attention.
Of course when it comes to quality you should also consider the appearance of your pup's carry-on. Consider making a statement with bold colors or coordinating your pet carrier with your other bags or your dog's coloration. Part of the fun of traveling with a small dog is the freedom to showcase your sense of style - think of your dog's carry-on bag as one more beautiful accessory!
There's a few things you'll need to do to prepare for your trip to the airport and it starts with making sure your pet carrier has all of the pertinent information attached to it. Plan to have your contact information securely attached on a sturdy luggage tag. Plan ahead and contact your vet so that you are prepared with health records and vaccines required by the airline or by the country you're planning to visit. For longer trips make sure you have some food and a water bowl so that your pet won't get hungry or thirsty during any long layovers. If your pet is heading to your aircraft's cargo hold you should attach these to his or her crate so that if you get separated airport crews can feed your dog his usual brand. If your pooch is small enough to fit into a carry-on bag make sure you remove your pet and carry him through the metal scanner while the carry-on tote rides the conveyor through the scanner (the scanner can be harmful to your pet's health so it's important that your dog stays with you). It's also a good idea to arrive at the airport extra-early if you're traveling with your pet. It's likely that check-in and passing security will take longer and it's a good idea to leave yourself some extra time.
Three of the best-performing pet carriers for smaller dogs that we've come across are:
The SturdiBag - An excellent carry-on bag for small dogs. The domed roof of this bag is flexible and it is capable of squeezing down to fit under an airport seat. A great feature is that the higher roof provides more space for your pooch while you're waiting to board the plane.
K9 Courier Bag - This dog carry-on bag is a tight squeeze under the seat of most airlines, but it will usually fit. This product is well-constructed, rugged and versatile and we like that it folds apart into a makeshift bed for your pet during a layover or once you arrive at your destination.
ARGO Aero-Pet - One of our favorite carry-on bags for dogs, the ARGO Aero-Pet is probably the largest under-seat bag on the market. With 6 mesh windows and waterproof fabric, the Aero-Pet may be a bit too large for some airlines but it's a comfortable bag, popular with dogs and dog-owners alike!
Wherever you're headed with your furry friend, getting the best pet carrier is only the first step to a successful trip. Auto Europe is your one-stop shop for all of your travel needs. From airfare to hotel to every type of rental car under the sun, booking your next trip with our experienced travel agents is the best way to guarantee that you and your pooch enjoy an idyllic journey the next time you travel abroad. Call Auto Europe toll-free today at 1-888-223-5555 for a free quote on airfare, hotel or a rental car at your next destination.