Best Pet Carriers
If you do some traveling with your pet, perhaps a long road trip to your favorite camping spot, or traveling via train to your family’s holiday dinner, or even a long flight and you are bringing your pet on vacation, you will need a dependable pet carrier. A pet carrier allows you to safely travel with your pet and give them a sense of comfortability when traveling, rather than being petrified of all the passengers and the unknown terrain around them.
The best way to achieve this comfortability and peace of mind when traveling with your pet is by investing in a pet carrier. However, not all of them will suffice for your needs or the needs of your pet and that is why we have done the research and listed the top ten pet carriers on the market today, and explained why they are the best of the best. We have a variety of pet carriers listed below as we know many people have different size and types of pets, so we are confident after you check out this list you will know which pet carrier is best for your pet.
- Sherpa Deluxe
- Petmate top load kennel
- Sleeko premium
- ARF soft crate kennel
- Petsfit expandable
- Pet magasin hard cover
- Amazon Basics soft sided
- A4Pet soft sided
- Favorite carrier
- TRIXIE 39811 Pet Carrier
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Sherpa Deluxe
The locking zippers prevent accidental escapes
Entry points at both the top and the side
It is approved for on most airlines
For training purposes, an opening on both ends would have been nice
The zippers can be a little sticky
The tough question with the Deluxe Pet Carrier from Sherpa is who will like it more, you or your pet? With spectacular features to adapt to your needs and your pet’s needs, this is the total package.Read more
For multiple options of loading your pet inside, there are top and side entry options. The spring wire frame allows the south side of the carrier to be pushed down several inches. The carrier itself is made from nylon and features mesh windows and a removable faux lambskin liner. Also, locking zippers will prevent your animal from accidentally escaping.
Size and Dimensions
There are a few sizes you can choose from but the largest measures 19” x 11.75” x 11.5” (L x W x H). For carrying purposes, there is a no-slip shoulder strap which features a padded support and adjustability. When needed to fit under a seat, the wireframe will push down several inches.
Your pet is sure to stay comfortable while inside with mesh panels for ventilation and a soft and comfortable lambskin liner. To add a little convenience, there is a rear pocket where you can store all sorts of accessories such as leashes, bags, snacks. If you think your pet might need it, stuff it in the compartment.
This is an ideal pet carrier for dogs and cats alike, although another opening on the end would have been a nice addition for dogs. There are even extra coloring options if you want to travel with your pet in style.
2. Petmate top load kennel
Your pet will enjoy the amount of visibility and ventilation
The steel and plastic construction provides strength and safety
2-door design gives you multiple entry points
The front door is hard to open and close
The opening on the top could have been larger
As opposed to a fabric construction, the Petmate Top Load Kennel succeeds with a classic plastic and steel makeup. For those that prefer this type of design, this is the best one of its kind.Read more
Petmate utilizes a plastic and steel construction for enhanced strength, safety, and visibility. With a two-door integration, it is also easy to get your pet in and out. The opening of the steel front door also has a secure latch to prevent escapes.
Size and Dimensions
The largest option measures 24.05” x 16.75” x 14.5”; although, there is a smaller option available if you do not need this much excess space. While there may not be a shoulder strap, there is a durable carry handle located on top of the kennel. It is padded enough to not provide discomfort.
Rest assured, there is enough ventilation and visibility for your pet to be able to breathe and not feel claustrophobic. But, it accomplishes this in a way where your pet is not fearful of seeing too much. This carrier doesn't feature a cushioned bottom, but there is room to add a towel or favorite blanket.
This carrier is designed in a way that there are no storage compartments. If you wanted to, you could simply store the pet’s accessories inside the kennel.
What is excellent about the design is the steel and plastic are as durable as it gets, but the amount of ventilation allows your pet to stay comfortable. The front door could have been a little easier to open and close, but it is not too big of a deal.
3. Sleeko premium
An ample amount of ventilation is provided for your pet
The padded hand strap and clip-on shoulder strap provide multiple carrying options
There is a total of three zippered openings
Could be more rigid to stand up better
If you have a smaller cat or dog, this may adapt to your needs better. With only one size option available, it may not be for everyone. But, if your pet is small enough then you can enjoy the luxuries of the SLEEKO Premium Pet Carrier.Read more
This is built with an extra-tough design featuring tear-resistant mesh and polyester fabric. To prevent the carrier from sagging, there is a sturdy insert inside. All in the meanwhile, it is fitted with two seat belt buckles for the safest trip possible.
Size and Dimensions
The lone size option measures 17.5” x 10” x 11.9” and note that it is a little smaller than the previous entries.
When taking your pet on an airplane, this carrier will easily fit underneath major airlines’ seats. In addition, a clip-on shoulder strap and padded hand strap provide you with multiple carrying options.
There is a clear emphasis on comfort with mesh ventilation on the sides as well as two ultra-soft fleece pads. Even though your pet may be freaking out, they will be cozy.
To carry your pet’s accessories or any snacks, there are two pockets integrated into the carrier.
A special design flaw to note is that if your pet rolls over to the side of this carrier, it may tip over due to its nature. This may or may not be a concern for you but even if it is, do not let it overshadow the greatness here.
4. ARF soft crate kennel
The base of the crate is water-resistant and simple to clean
Its heavy-duty all-steel frame construction provides years of use
For effortless storage, it easily folds down
The interior is prone to scratching
If using it at home, note that the end panel can be bolted through by your pet
The last couple entries have been on the small side, but that is not the case with this pet carrier. Arf Pets provides you with a large and extra-large option, ensuring that your pet will fit securely inside.Read more
The entry choice is yours with a top, front and side opening available. As far as the overall construction, this is as good as it gets. Tightly woven materials provide a great amount of durability, strong steel bars easily lock into place, resilient mesh casing will not fray, and the zippers are heavy-duty.
Size and Dimensions
For the extra-large option, the carrier will measure 36” x 27” x 24”. If this is too large, there is a smaller option available.
When your pet is not inside, this crate easily folds down for convenient storage. While carrying them, though, you can do so with the dual straps.
This crate is designed with your pet’s needs in mind. It is specifically designed to provide an optimal amount of breathability throughout all seasons, in addition to a soft liner.
With as large as this crate is, some storage compartments would have been nice. Although, there probably will be excess room in the carrier.
For larger pets, or pets who love to have their space, this may be one of the best options available for you. Past the size, it helps that the construction and design are top-notch with only a few flaws present.
5. Petsfit expandable
The soft fleece mat is comfortable for your pets
Included is a 30-day warranty
Not only is the mat removable but it is also easily washable
After an accident, it is very difficult to clean on the spot
The zippers can be undone too easily which can result in an escape
As the name so eloquently points out, the most noteworthy feature of this particular pet carrier is that it is expandable. The sides are constructed with mesh and this allows them to fold over to allow your pet more room than normal.Read more
Besides its expandable nature, the wide frame on both sides adds terrific support to the carrier. In addition, both the doors have self-locking zippers for easy and safe access. This carrier features a cloth fabric, polyester lining, and mesh windows and a fleece bed for your animal.
Size and Dimensions
When not expanded, the largest version measures 19” x 12” x 12”. However, the width can expand to 33” providing excess room for your pets. Of course, there are also smaller options if you choose.
The nylon woven tape hand and shoulder strap deliver a reliable and easy transport.
Coming equipped with a soft fleece mat for comfort and a mesh-design for proper ventilation, in addition to the excess room when expanded, your pet will not have an uncomfortable ride.
There are pockets on the side that can store any small goods you have. Also, the excess room can be used to store any toys or items for your pet.
Clearly, the expandable nature of this carrier makes it stand out. While it could have been higher, no thanks to a few flaws, beggars cannot be choosers when it comes to consumer products.
6. Pet magasin hard cover
Both the top and the base are waterproof
Provides you with the best features of both hard and soft carriers
A security lock on the door zipper ensures clever animals will not escape
The zipper is painfully annoying to get started, thanks to its small nature
A sturdier mesh-door would have been nice; your pet may rip holes in it
This is another special and unique pet carrier, but this is a different design, thanks to its hard-top cover and bottom. Providing a great sense of protection and a firm plateau to stand on, your pet should adapt very well.Read more
Not only are the top and the base firm for protection but they are also waterproof, as well. To prevent the cleverest of felines and canines from escaping, there is a security lock on the door zipper.
Size and Dimensions
This is suitable for small dogs and cats, but nothing overly-large. The dimensions read 17” x 13” x 14”.
While it is not in use, the soft sides can be folded down in a neat little package. When you need to carry your pet from one place to another, you can use the firm handle located on the top cover.
The two key features for your pet, breathability, and comfortability are present here with a padded mat on the floor and a see-through mesh door.
Unfortunately, nothing of note to speak of hearing. Honestly, it is probably not big enough to store anything inside with your pet.
A clever design makes this pet carrier worth it alone, but the small flaws bring down the overall quality. Still, this is a great addition for anyone’s next trip with their beloved animal.
7. Amazon Basics soft sided
The spring wire frame can be conformed to meet under-seat dimensions
Mesh ventilation on all sides prevents overheating
Both the fleece pet bed and insert can be removed and washed
Too much exposure for a cat
The clasp inside the carrier dangles down and is very short, could result in a strangulation
The Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier from AmazonBasics provides an excellent amount of ventilation, maybe too much. For cats, it may spook them seeing everything move around them. But, they will never get hot!Read more
Dual-entry points, at both the front and the top, allow for easy access and stress-free loading. In addition, the zippers on both the front and the top keep the entries secure.
Size and Dimensions
There are three different size options for you to select from including small, medium and large. For the large, it measures 19.7” x 10.2” x 11.2”.
If you plan on taking your pet with you to the airport, this is a great choice as the spring wire frame can be conformed to meet under-seat dimensions on most airlines. Plus, you can carry it with an adjustable shoulder strap for hands-free carrying.
Both a fleece pet bed and base insert are included and both can be removed for cleaning. All four sides feature mesh ventilation to prevent overheating. Although, for cats, this can actually be a hindrance as they may get spooked with the lack of closure.
Just a standard pet carrier and no additional compartments are integrated for storage purposes.
Truthfully, there is not too much to gripe about here. However, looking at it with a different eye, nothing particularly stands out either. Due to the mass amount of exposure, though, this may be best suited for small dogs.
8. A4Pet soft sided
It comes with a secure tether to prevent an escape
When not in use, it folds down into a small flat package
The bottom utilizes a rigid cushion to maintain sturdiness
The mesh panels are vulnerable to dog claws
The lack of visibility can make the animal feel claustrophobic
At first glance, you probably would mistake this pet carrier for a luggage bag. However, it is indeed a carrier and while it is not the best in the world it has enough quality and brilliance to warrant a look.Read more
It is easy to get your pet inside with a top loading and side opening design. The carrier itself is made from Oxford fabric and mesh. A rigid panel is included to prevent an accidental collapse and auto-lock zipper sliders for security.
Size and Dimensions
With a medium size, this measures out 17” x 11” x 11”. Thus, making it ideal for puppies and medium-sized cats.
The carrier can be firmly attached to your luggage and the strap makes it easy to carry. Plus, it can be secured in your car seat on long car rides.
To create a firm and sturdy bottom for your pet, a rigid cushion has been integrated. There is an insulated EPE insert that will provide your pet with extra-warmth in colder conditions. However, the designers kept it fairly simple in terms of extra storage, there is nothing of note to speak of.
This may not be everyone’s first choice as the lack of visibility could be a concern for both the animal and yourself. If you do not foresee any issues with this, then you should be all clear.
9. Favorite carrier
Features a quick and easy three-step assembly process
Included screws can be used to further secure the top and bottom together for enhanced reinforcement
There is ventilation on the sides, top, and back of the crate
May want to reinforce the door and wire the mesh to the two poles
The clips on the side do not lock down tightly
Fabric pet carriers have been common on this list, but we end with a more traditional pet carrier. The overall design of the Favorite Pet Carrier is not perfect, but it still manages to be efficient and provide owners with a sense of relief knowing their pet is safe and secure.Read more
It is constructed from durable plastic that offers strength and security. The front door has a steel-wire and there is an additional opening at the top for double the entry options.
Also, the spring-loaded latch allows for smooth opening. But, the door mesh is a little flimsy and it may be beneficial to wire it to the poles.
Size and Dimensions
The larger size measures 22” x 14” x 13”, but there is an additional option for a slightly smaller variation. Being made from plastic and not fabric, it can’t fold up but the carry handle on the top does allow for easy transport.
Sure, there are more comfortable bases out there but pet owners will take comfort in the amount of ventilation and visibility present for their animal. On the sides, top, and back of the crate, there are openings for air.
With this type of construction choice, do not expect too many options for storing pet accessories or snacks.
It is not perfect, but it is hard to complain about the results. When you need to take your pet with you on a trip, this will make a great accomplice.
10. TRIXIE 39811 Pet Carrier
Comfortable and protective
Easy to carry
Not for larger pets
Double purpose box which can be used for small dogs and cats for those short or long trips, the boxes are well ventilated for good circulation of air, designed with a user-friendly carrying handle and has a built-in storage tray plus a comfort/stroking flap for easy access to calm pets.
This box is comfortable for pets up to the weight of six kilograms Constructed in strong durable plastic and measuring a width of 31cm, height 48cm, and length 32cm.Read more
A robust durable plastic construction incorporating strategic designed in air-vents for good ventilation and a sturdy plastic carrying handle for easy movement. The box has a designed in a flap which means you can reach inside to comfort a nervous pet.
Size and Dimensions
With a width of 31cm, height 48cm, and length 32cm, giving ample space for small sized dogs, cats or other pets. This is a lightweight yet durable and robust pet carrier weighing 1.16kg.
The carry box gives ample space for transporting pets and the strong plastic construction ensures comfortable protection. Additionally, this product offers one spacious storage compartment
A well-ventilated transportation box, which is easy to carry, constructed from durable plastic which offers good protection and comfort for pets.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When it comes to pet carriers, there is a lot that goes into the construction. At its core, though, the first aspect you need to determine is whether you want a plastic/steel version or a fabric version. Fabric versions may be a little easier to transport, but plastic/steel versions are generally more durable as you do not have to concern yourself with ripping. Past this, though, the number of entry points is a notable feature to look out for. Depending on your type of pet, it may be easier to simply set them in from the top. Others may be more adept to simply walk in, but having both options available is rather convenient.
Also, take note of the zippers (in specific for fabric carriers) as you may want them to have locks on them. This will prevent your pet from accidentally escaping, which can be detrimental especially on an airplane. For plastic/steel carriers, be sure that the doors have secure latches to prevent the same occurrence. A nice bonus design feature you may see in some fabric carriers is waterproof capabilities. While this is not necessary for it to perform its designed purpose, being waterproof is certainly never a bad thing.
This is arguably the single most important section of this entire guide, as the carrier needs to be large enough to accommodate your pet. If you are planning on hauling around a Chihuahua or a small cat, however, you will probably never need to concern yourself with this. The issue comes into play when you have a larger cat or a relatively large dog and you want them to fit inside the carrier. When talking about dimensions for these objects, they typically measure length by width by height.
Height will not be too much of an issue, as your animal will be sitting for a majority of the time spent inside, but pay specific attention to length and width. Be sure to measure your pet to determine if they will properly fit inside. Obviously, you do not want them to be squished and miserable inside so leave a few extra inches for breathing room. For example, if a carrier is 19” in length and your animal is 18” in length you may want to pass as that leaves your animal with one inch of breathing room.
For some pets, it is going to be difficult enough to get them inside the carrier without them having a panic attack. So, when you send them on a ride you might as well send them off in comfort. While it is not guaranteed that this alone will calm them down, as some pets will be petrified even with their favorite treat alongside with them. But, the least you can do is ensure that, if nothing else, they are comfortable.
There are two key areas of comfort with pet carriers and they are proper ventilation and coziness. However, ventilation can be a little tricky. You want your pet to be able to breathe while inside but, for cats specifically, too much exposure can give them anxiety. Plus, in colder conditions, too much ventilation can be a hindrance. Besides this, some sort of removable fleece pad or comfortable liner can provide your pet with a cozy resting place. Of course, you can also modify a carrier that does not have one. Simply purchase a soft fleece pad and place it inside the base of the carrier, ensuring it fits.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
When you buy a new pet carrier, you will want to make sure your animal is happy and comfortable. It is a good idea to put a comfortable blanket or a towel at the bottom and possibly even use a pheromone spray. If they are still weary, putting a little bit of food at in the carrier is a good idea as well.
Depending on where and how you plan to use the carrier, one or the other will be better for you. If you are traveling with your pet and plan to have them below the cabin, a crate is more secure. If your animal will be a carry-on and with you the entire time, a carrier will be more comfortable and easier to carry.
Other Factors to Consider
To be honest, this is not an essential component of a successful pet carrier. That does not mean, though, that it is useless otherwise it would not be present here. If a carrier has storage compartments, it just gives you a convenient place to store your pet’s accessories and snacks. Sure, you could just simply store them in a different location but it is nice to have everything in one spot. With this in mind, designers will add a pocket or two to accommodate for small and simple pet accessories.
This is also where a large size can come into effect, as you could throw your pet’s favorite toys inside the cage for them to play with. For example, with plastic/steel carriers as they generally will not have storage compartments integrated into the design.
This is truly where fabric pet carriers have an advantage, in the area of portability. First off, you will often see these types implement both an adjustable shoulder strap and padded handle for carrying. Thus, if your hand gets tired you can simply transfer the workload on your shoulder. With a plastic/steel carrier, they typically do not feature an adjustable shoulder strap and you must use the handle the entire time. Also, when traveling on an airplane, some will be designed with the ability to conform to fit underneath the seats. This is ideal for situations where you would like your pet to be alongside you on a long flight.
Of course, they also come in handy when your pet is not inside. When you need to transport it, some fabric versions will be able to fold down into a small package. Then, when you go back to use it, you can simply reverse the process and it is ready to go.
Frequently Asked Questions
It will vary on the specific airline, but some will accept small pets in the cabin of the plane. The only way, however, is if the carrier is approved or if it is a carry-on kennel. Airlines have specific regulations and there is a lot that comes into play when bringing your pet as a carry-on luggage. To do this, the trip generally needs to be under six hours to prevent the animal from feeling confined for too long and negatively reacting. Also, the pet will need to remain in the carrier for the duration of the trip.
However, also take into consideration odor and noise disturbances as both of these can get you and your pet kicked off the flight before take-off. Size also comes into play and as an example, American Airlines allows a maximum size for cabin pet carriers to be 19” long, 13” wide, and 9” high.
The only surefire way to ensure that your animal will have an adequate amount of space inside a carrier is to measure your animal to see if they conform to the dimensions of the carrier. To do so, you need to obtain the length, height, and width of your animal. Unfortunately, unless your pet is properly trained, they may not cooperate the greatest and it could be a struggle to obtain these measurements. No matter how you can get them, get them.
For the length, measure the animal from the tip of their nose to their butt. Depending on the size of your pet, add an appropriate amount of length for the tail (for example two to four inches). Now, it is time to obtain the height and for this simply measure from the top of the head (the tallest spot) to the ground. Finally, for the width, measure the underside of your pet. Now, take all these measurements and compare them to the dimensions of each carrier.
Alright, so you may be looking to invest in a pet carrier for simple vehicle transports. Just because you are not flying on a plane does not mean your pet still does not need a carrier. For a several hours’ trip, a carrier is the most sufficient means of transporting your pet. But, how do you secure it to prevent them from flying around in the car? One excellent way of doing so is to buckle the carrier in. Whether in the front or back seat, simply wrap the seatbelt through the top handle of the carrier and secure it in place.
Of course, in cases where you have an enormous load and have boxes and packages directly next to the carrier securing it in place, you will not have to worry about this. Either way, this will ensure a safe and secure trip for your beloved animal.
Dogs are special and as such, you need to know that there is only a limited amount of time that they should be stowed in a crate or carrier. At night time, you do not have to concern yourself with this as their body systems will slow down. However, in the middle of the day the younger the dog the less time they should be stored away in a carrier. No matter the age, though, no dog should be stowed away for longer than four to five hours at a time. If you do not abide by this, your dog may begin to act abnormally and experience behavior problems.
In general, you should keep 8 to 10-week-old dogs in a crate no longer than an hour, 11 to 14- week-old dogs no longer than three hours, 15 to 16 week no longer than four, and everything older no longer than five hours.
This is actually a question that popped up on Southwest Airlines web page and you, honestly, probably already know the answer to it. Southwest Airlines states that at no time while in the gate area or during boarding, can a pet be outside of its cage. As they are strict about this regulation, failure to adhere to the guidelines could result in you losing the privilege to bring your pet alongside you.
Each airline will have a different set of guidelines, but you should not expect very many to have a rule that states otherwise. An exposed pet onboard can so easily become a nuisance to the surrounding passengers.
With some of the carriers on this list, they are large enough to adapt to two small animals. This is purely your preference but when you bring them to the airport, you must abide by their stipulations. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is very strict when it comes to multiple pets being transported in a single carrier. They stipulate that as long as the two animals are the same species, each weigh less than 20 pounds and are under six months of age, they can travel together in the same crate.
However, this does not apply if you are traveling to countries outside of the United States. Even in the case where your pets do not meet the guidelines provides, they will typically be stowed away next to each other in the aircraft. This may prove sufficient anyway as this gives each of your pets an ample amount of breathing room.