Dog Travel: Portable and Airline-Approved Crate Guide

A happy and cute corgi nestled in an airport dog carrier. His male owner sits next to him in the boarding waiting area. Sunny day. Vacation concept with pets.

Key Points

  • Comfortable, lightweight, durable, and airline-approved kennels range from the Gen7Pets Roller-Carrier to Mr. Peanut’s Expandable Soft-Sided Pet Carrier. 

  • When choosing a crate, focus on size and weight, sturdiness, ventilation, and ease of loading. 

  • Before your trip, ensure you have all the necessary documentation, such as a health certificate, airline forms, and vaccination records. 

  • Try to keep your dog comfortable with essentials such as their favorite blanket, water, a puppy pad, and products that help with anxiety, such as pheromone collars or a ThunderShirt.

Traveling with your dog is an exciting adventure, but ensuring their safety and comfort during the journey is paramount. Selecting the right crate for your pup is essential if you want them to feel at ease and avoid problems with transport companies. This article is a comprehensive guide to portable and airline-approved crates that meet your pup's needs while adhering to airline regulations.

Portable and Airline-Approved Crate Recommendations

Selecting the right product, especially if your trip with your dog is quickly approaching, is a stressful experience. The crucial factor to consider is whether the crate is airline-approved or not. Durability, convenience, ease of loading, and proper ventilation are other aspects you should consider. The options below conform to most airlines’ requirements, and most dogs find them comfortable. 

1. Amazon Basics Two-Door Top-Load Pet Kennel

The Amazon Basics Two-Door Top-Load Pet Kennel is a reliable option for those on a budget. It features a sturdy and secure two-door design, allowing easy access to your pup. The crate contains durable plastic, ensuring long-lasting use. It is also lightweight, making it convenient for travel.

With proper ventilation on both sides, your dog feels comfortable during the journey. The product is suitable for small and medium-sized dogs, accommodating pets up to 20" in length and 11" in height.

Its top-loading feature facilitates effortless loading and unloading, and the secure latch ensures your pet's safety. The Amazon Basics Two-Door Top-Load Pet Kennel is an excellent choice for short trips or airline travel, providing a comfortable and safe environment for your pup.

2. Gen7Pets Roller-Carrier

The Gen7Pets Roller-Carrier is a versatile option for pet owners who prefer different modes of travel. Whether traveling by plane, train, or car, this crate provides convenience and comfort. Its compact design fits under most airplane seats, making it suitable for in-cabin travel.

This roller-carrier features a Smart-Level platform, ensuring your pup stays level while on the move. It also includes breathable mesh panels for ventilation, keeping your pet cool and allowing them to see their surroundings.

The adjustable double-zippered openings make it easy to load and unload your pet. The top handle and retractable wheels provide convenient mobility, allowing you to navigate crowded airports easily. If you choose the Gen7Pets Roller-Carrier, you should expect a hassle-free travel experience.

3. Midwest Homes for Pets Skudo Travel Carrier

The Midwest Homes for Pets Skudo Travel Carrier is a reliable crate that combines durability and comfort. Its rigid plastic construction provides security and stability for your pup during travel. The crate features ample ventilation on all sides, promoting airflow and reducing stress.

With its secure locking system, the Skudo Travel Carrier ensures your pet remains safe inside. The ergonomic handle allows easy carrying, and the top-load door makes placing your pup inside the crate convenient.

This airline-approved crate is available in multiple sizes ranging from 19" to 42", accommodating both small and large dogs. It meets most airline requirements for in-cabin travel, making it an excellent choice for pet owners who want to keep their dogs close during the journey.

4. Mr. Peanut's Expandable Soft-Sided Pet Carrier

If your dog prefers a softer and more flexible travel environment, Mr. Peanut's Expandable Soft-Sided Pet Carrier is an excellent option. This crate features a durable nylon fabric construction, making it lightweight and easy to carry.

The expandable compartment allows your pup to stretch and move comfortably. It also includes an adjustable seatbelt strap, ensuring your pet's safety during car rides.

The mesh panels offer excellent ventilation and visibility for your pet. The soft fleece pad provides a cozy resting spot, while the built-in leash keeps your pup secure. Mr. Peanut's Expandable Soft-Sided Pet Carrier is a convenient and comfortable product for pet owners seeking a flexible travel option.

5. Petmate Compass Kennel

The Petmate Compass Kennel has strength and durability in mind. Its sturdy plastic construction and metal door ensure reliable containment and security for your pup. The crate meets most airline cargo specifications for safe travel.

With its 360-degree ventilation, the Compass Kennel allows for optimal airflow. The dual-turn door latch provides an additional layer of security, keeping your pet safely inside. The top and bottom shells easily snap together, making assembly and disassembly a breeze.

This crate is available in multiple sizes, accommodating different breeds and sizes of dogs. Its practical design and robust build make the Petmate Compass Kennel a trustworthy choice for pet owners embarking on longer journeys.

6. Petmate Sky Kennel

The Petmate Sky Kennel is a premium option that meets even the strictest international airline regulations. It features a heavy-duty plastic shell that provides maximum safety and durability.

The secure door latch and four-way vault door ensure escape-proof containment during the journey. The metal side vents promote airflow and ventilation, keeping your pet comfortable and calm.

This crate includes "Live Animal" stickers to meet airline requirements. It features top and bottom shells that fasten tightly for added security. With its high-quality construction and meticulous attention to detail, the Petmate Sky Kennel is ideal for pet owners traveling internationally with their dogs.

7. Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carrier

The Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carrier offers style, comfort, and practicality. This soft-sided carrier features durable faux leather accents, providing a fashionable travel solution for your pup. It is compliant with most airline regulations for in-cabin use.

The mesh panels on all sides allow for excellent ventilation and visibility. The locking zippers ensure that your pet remains safely inside the carrier. The soft, removable, and machine-washable faux lambskin liner provides a comfortable resting spot for your furry friend.

The Sherpa Deluxe Pet Carrier also includes a seatbelt strap to secure it during car travel. Its lightweight design, padded handle, and adjustable shoulder strap offer convenient carrying options for pet owners on the go.

8. Sleepypod Air Pet Carrier

The Sleepypod Air Pet Carrier is a top-of-the-line choice that prioritizes your pet's safety and comfort. It meets specific safety standards, including crash-testing certifications.

The carrier's ultra-durable ballistic nylon exterior and machine-washable plush bedding provide your pup with a cozy and secure environment. The folding design allows for easy storage when not in use.

This carrier features a wide opening that makes placing your pet in it easy. It also has multiple storage pockets for carrying essentials. The adjustable straps ensure secure attachment to a car seat during road trips. The Sleepypod Air Pet Carrier's innovative design and safety features make it an excellent option for pet owners who prioritize their pup's well-being.

Factors To Consider When Choosing a Crate

As there are multiple aspects to consider when choosing one carrier or kennel over the other, the buying guide below helps you understand what factors are paramount. Airline approval is essential, but your dog’s comfort levels during the trip are just as important, so base your decision on both of these elements. 

Size and Weight Restrictions

When selecting a crate, consider your dog's size and weight. Ensure the kennel provides enough space for your pet to stand up, lie down, and turn around comfortably. Check with the airline for specific size and weight restrictions to guarantee compliance. Different countries have different regulations, as highlighted by the Traveler’s Pet Corner by the International Air Transport Association

Measure your dog's length, height, and weight to choose the appropriate crate size. Remember that your pup should be able to stand, sit, and comfortably lie down without restrictions. Consider your dog's breed and growth potential when selecting a size. It's better to choose a slightly bigger crate for breeds that tend to grow larger.

Sturdiness and Durability

A sturdy and durable crate ensures your pet's safety during travel. Look for carriers made from high-quality materials, such as reinforced plastic or heavy-duty nylon. The product should be able to withstand rough handling and protect your pup from external forces.

Check the strength of the crate's walls, doors, and locks. Ensure it securely contains your dog without the risk of breakage or escape. Consider the overall build quality to guarantee long-lasting use.

Ventilation and Temperature Control

Proper ventilation is essential to keep your pet comfortable and prevent overheating. Look for crates with well-placed ventilation holes or mesh panels, as they ensure sufficient airflow inside the crate, reducing stress and maintaining a comfortable temperature.

Cross ventilation is a feature to look for as it allows fresh air to flow inside and stale air to escape. Avoid crates with limited ventilation, which cause discomfort and anxiety for your pup during travel.

Ease of Loading and Convenience

Consider crates with top-load doors or wide openings that allow you to comfortably place your dog inside without causing stress or discomfort. The crate's design should facilitate a smooth and effortless process, reducing the likelihood of injury to both you and your pet. Avoid kennels with complicated assembly or disassembly processes that may cause unnecessary frustration.

A portable and easy-to-store crate is essential if you plan to travel frequently with your dog. Consider the crate's weight and whether it includes features like handles or wheels for convenient transportation. Choose a collapsible crate or one that features a folding design for compact storage when not in use. This ensures you only need minimal space to store the carrier, making it suitable for homes with limited storage areas.

Tips for Ensuring a Smooth and Safe Trip

If you have never traveled with your dog before, there’s a certain amount of anxiety that you’re likely to feel about the experience. Going to the vet for a check-up and ensuring your pet has all the right shots is the first step to ensuring your trip is stress-free. Try to maintain your calm and prepare as best as possible, as some situations are impossible to predict, even with the friendliest and healthiest dogs.

Getting Your Dog Used to the Crate

Before the trip, introduce and familiarize your pup with the crate gradually. Start by placing treats or familiar items inside the crate to encourage positive associations. Gradually increase the time your dog spends in the crate using positive reinforcement techniques.

Ensure that your dog's first travel experiences in the crate are positive and stress-free, creating a calm and comfortable environment for them. Avoid keeping the carrier in a designated spot your dog doesn't have access to. If you do so, your pet is not going to know what to expect when you take it out and try to convince them to use it. 

Preparing Necessary Documentation for Airline Travel

Before your trip, research and prepare all the documents required by the airline to transport your pet. This may include health certificates, vaccination records, and specific airline forms. Depending on the country, you may have to take your dog to the vet at least ten days before the actual trip to ensure that your pet is appropriately immunized. Health certificates and passports come at a cost, and their price depends on your location. In the United Kingdom, an animal certificate costs approximately £110 in 2023.

Just to be safe, check with the embassy website of the country you are traveling to if you’re planning a trip overseas with your pup to see what shots are mandatory. While the rabies vaccine is a critical shot and the one that every country in the world asks for, some locations may ask for additional immunization records. 

Ensure all documentation is up to date and organized in a travel folder to present when necessary. Failure to comply with airline regulations may result in denial of boarding or additional fees, so it is crucial to be well-prepared.

Packing Essentials for Your Pup’s Comfort and Well-Being

When traveling with your pup, remember to pack essential items to keep them comfortable and content during the trip. Include their favorite toys, a familiar blanket or bedding, water and food bowls, and an adequate supply of their regular food. If your pet requires medication, pack it with clear instructions and ensure you have enough for the entire journey. As airline companies tend to be suspicious about medications, ensure that you have a document from your vet attesting that your dog is undergoing treatment for a condition. 

Veterinarians at VCA Canada Tammy Hunter and Robin Downing state, “On the day of travel, do not feed your dog breakfast. Traveling on an empty stomach minimizes the risk of nausea and vomiting. Line the carrier with an absorbent “puppy potty pad” in case your dog needs to urinate or defecate during travel.”

Even though most dogs have nothing against taking trips regularly and experience no anxiety or symptoms associated with it, not all pets are the same. For dogs with severe stress and anxiety levels, you have the option of asking your vet to prescribe or administer a sedative before your trip. Trazodone, alprazolam, and gabapentin are the most commonly used medications. Pheromone calming collars and ThunderShirts may help other dogs.  

Planning for Breaks and Exercise During Long Trips

If you're embarking on a long journey, plan for regular breaks and exercise for your pup. Research pet-friendly rest areas along your route or suitable parks where your dog has the option to stretch their legs and relieve themselves.

Keep your dog on a leash at all times during breaks, and ensure they have proper identification tags on their collar. Please provide them with fresh water and make sure they have an opportunity to relieve themselves before continuing the journey. Even on a transatlantic flight, if the attendants allow you and your dog to be calm and friendly, you might be able to walk your dog up and down the plane aisle once an hour. Do not expect this to be a guarantee, as airlines differ in terms of how they accommodate the needs of pets or pet owners.

Be Prepared for Anything

An experience like traveling with your dog is rewarding and exciting, but selecting the right crate is crucial for their safety and comfort. The recommended portable and airline-approved crates mentioned in this guide cater to different needs and travel preferences.

Consider factors such as size, durability, ventilation, ease of use, and portability when choosing a crate. Remember to acclimate your pet to the carrier, prepare the necessary documentation, and pack essentials for their well-being. Embark on a new adventure with your pet and ensure their enjoyment and well-being every step of the way, even when unexpected situations happen. 

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