Most of us relish the opportunity to venture out into the world to visit a place we’ve never been, and more often than not, we prefer to share that experience with our closest family members. Sometimes, due to travel constraints, one of your family members has to be left behind. That happens a lot to dog owners because as much as they would have like to have gone on vacation with their pet, they believed that it was too expensive or too much of a hassle to make the arrangements.
There was a time when that was true, but nowadays, most airlines will allow pets to travel in the cabin right alongside their owners. All that is required is that you purchase a proper dog travel bag. If you are planning on an airplane ride with your precious one, check our other article on safety flying tips with your fur baby. Perhaps you’d rather take your dog hiking, or you’re a bike rider that likes a park on the other side of town, or you want to show off your new puppy wherever you go.
Nowadays, you can take your pet just about anywhere, as long as you have the proper equipment and follow a few simple rules. Whatever your motivation, there is a bag to suit your needs. In this article, you will learn a number of things that you should keep in mind when making a purchase. And then you’ll never have to leave one of your family members home alone ever again.
If you’re going on a road-trip with doggie by your side, check out our dog safety tips when you’re traveling by car. You’ll be glad you did.
Choosing the Right Size
Size is as about an important a factor in your choice of dog carrier bag as any other could be. First of all, they are designed to transport small to medium sized breeds. You cannot expect to find one in which to stuff your adult German Shepherd.
That said, your dog should have enough room to stand up, lie down, and move around when all the doors are zipped shut. He should have enough space to feel comfortable and safe at all times while inside. Just like he should in his crate at home.
The larger the bag, however, the harder it will be for you to carry around. Imagine trying to squeeze down the aisle with it in your hands when trying to find your seat on an airplane. You may find it difficult to fit into the back seat of your car or other tight spaces. Also, if there is too much room inside, your pet may feel it is okay to use one side of it as his bathroom.
So choose a carrier that is approximately one-and-a-half times as long as he is, and make sure that he will be able to turn around and give himself a scratch whenever he feels the need. If you have a puppy, consider buying an adult-sized bag that can be partitioned at various points inside. This will help to save you money for future travels with him.
An Emphasis on Durability
If your dog has a crate, it is most likely made of a hard plastic or metal. The frame prevents him from tearing a hole in the side and breaking free in the middle of the night, it keeps him safe from external harm, and it’s easy to cover with a blanket if he won’t stop howling when you have company over for a visit. The bag you choose should be able to perform the same functions, while at the same time, be light enough to carry it with your pet inside.
Much of its construction depends on its size, but you should always pay attention to the material first. Thick fabrics, such as nylon or canvas, are the best because they resist tears from scratching and from external forces.
Remember that you will be lugging it around, so the possibilities of it catching on something sharp, like a protruding nail, are endless. The fabric should also should be washable, colorfast, and most importantly, leak-proof. No matter how well your dog is house trained, there is always a chance for an accident.
Another aspect of durability is quality of stitching. Look for heavy stitching on all the seams of your prospective bag, especially on the type with wire frames. Not only will it need to support the weight of your dog, but the weight of all the accessories you’ll be taking with him too. If a seam begins to come apart in the middle of your journey, odds are the carrier will be useless by the time you get home.
In order for a dog to be comfortable in a carrier bag, he needs plenty of ventilation. There should be mesh or wire panels on at least two sides so that there is adequate airflow.
Some models will have up to five areas, and as long as the seams are heavily stitched, the number of panels shouldn’t have much of an impact on its overall durability. Numerous panels also gives your travel companion an opportunity to look around, which will make the unfamiliar smells and sounds a little less intimidating.
If by any chance, your little one gets car sick during travel time, check out our tips on how to deal with doggie motion sickness and be prepared.
It would be a mistake to assume that just because you bought a travel bag for your pet that your airline will allow you to board. Some airlines will allow pets in the cabin, but they usually have specific guidelines on size of the animal and the type of bag. There may even have tighter restrictions during certain seasons. And be prepared for the extra charge, because your carrier will be counted as carry-on baggage.
Airline websites usually include information about their rules and regulations for traveling with pets, but don’t count on them because these policies are always subject to change. Call your airline and make sure to state clearly that you intend to have your companion travel in the cabin with you. They will give you the most current information. If you don’t follow their guidelines, there is a good chance that you and your dog will be left on the tarmac when the plane takes off.
The best carriers for airplane travel should have heavy double stitching, plenty of air vents, a top zipper, and a side door. Removable bottom pads are an advantage when your companion has an accident and, if possible, you should consider purchasing at least two backup pads. You’ll need several internal and external pockets for food, treats, and cleaning supplies.
One of the smartest options for air travel, however, is one with wheels and an extendable handle. Wheels will be a welcome relief for big airports and long layovers, especially if your pet weighs more than 10 pounds. The extendable handle will give you more control when pulling than the standard shoulder strap.
Another item that you should consider is a pouch with a snap or zippered enclosure in which you can secure your pet’s documentation. You never know when you may be asked to produce proof of rabies inoculations, licensing, or other information that may be required somewhere along your trip. You can also include vet health records. Having these papers at the ready will make travel much easier than having to dig through your suitcases at the baggage counter (that is, if you remembered to pack these items at all).
If you intend on doing a lot of traveling with your dog, you should choose a bag that will not attract a lot of attention. Thieves will steal animals just as often as they will any other baggage they can get their hands on. So stay away from bright or florescent colors and ones covered in rhinestones or other flashy decorations. The idea is to get your pet from point A to point B with comfort and as little a hassle as possible, not attract the attention of paparazzi.
For more insights on airline policies regarding pets, see our guidelines that will help you.
Additional Shopping Tips
There are hundreds of options on the market, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed trying to figure out which one is right for you. One thing that will help you filter out many of the choices is to remember, in the end, the bag is a tool. You need to pick one that fits the job you need it for. If you are a biker, the look for lightweight products with rigid frames that can be strapped down to the platform on your bike.
If you care a hiker, look for items that can be converted into backpacks. If you are a frequent flyer, then go with items that are airline-approved. It’s also good practice to pay attention to customer reviews and questions. Someone may have had an experience with the product that could influence your decision or posed a question you didn’t think to ask. Finally, look for accessories such as extra pads and feeding bowls; generic accessories may not fit in your choice.
Pet care companies are not the only companies that are making bags for pets. You have most likely see celebrities toting around their teacup-sized dogs in ones that double as purses. That may be cute for a photo op, but carrying an animal around inside a purse isn’t a humane thing to do. If you are into fashion, however, you should be able to find many high-end designers that make proper carrier. Just keep in mind that the purpose is your dog’s comfort and safety; he couldn’t care less about name stamped on the side.
Three Top-rated Bags
The following is a selection of some of the highest-reviewed bags for dogs that can be found online. The selection takes into account customer reviews, product descriptions, and special features that average manufacturers cannot beat. These are available in at least two sizes and come in a variety of designs.
1. Sherpa Original Deluxe Carriers
Amazon rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars based on 1,408 customer reviews
Sherpa Original Deluxe carriers feature locking zippers that won’t allow pets to escape, mesh panels for comfort, and security straps that are easy to fasten. The top and side entries and a versatility for any time you need access to your dog. The seatbelt and luggage straps allow you to secure the bag for car travel, and there are plenty of pockets for holding all the accessories you may need while on the go. The Sherpa Original Deluxe comes in three sizes and six colors, and the largest can hold dogs up to 22 pounds.
It has several other excellent features, but what makes this product especially high-rated is that the small and medium sizes are approved for travel by most airlines that are part of Sherpa’s Guaranteed On Board program. This program guarantees that your pet can travel in cabin on any participating airline. If a participating airline does not allow you to board, Sherpa will reimburse your airfare and pet fee.
Like this product? Then you can check the current deal for it on Amazon.
2. Petsfit Comfort Expandable Foldable Travel Dogs Carriers Pet Carrier Soft-sided
Amazon review: 4.6 out of 5 stars based on 75 customer reviews
Petsfit Comfort Expandable Foldable travel dogs carriers pet carrier soft-sided is a bag with an odd design, but one that comes with high owner satisfaction. Its main feature is its zip-down mesh side that expands to allow a pet to move around in extra space.
This features is especially useful during long trips with plenty layover or other stoppage time. This expandable area is easily collapsible, and when not in use, the bag can fold up to the size of a laptop satchel.
Other features include a sturdy wire frame and an adjustable shoulder strap. It comes in three sizes, the largest of which can accommodate dogs up to 18 pounds. The only true downside of this item is that there is such an emphasis on the expandable area, that it doesn’t have room for enough pockets to hold your accessories.
If you think that this product could be useful for you, then you can check the current deal for it on Amazon.
3. Oxgord Pet Carrier Soft Sided Cat / Dog Comfort «faa Airline Approved» Travel Tote Bag
Amazon rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars based on 700 customer reviews
OxGord Pet Carrier Soft Sided Cat / Dog Comfort «FAA Airline Approved» Travel Tote Bag is a bargain hunter’s dream.
It may have a low price, but it comes with all the features that a pet owner could want. The mesh sides provide plenty of ventilation, and the fleece bottom can be removed for easy cleaning.
There are enough pockets and storage compartments to hold all your accessories, and the safety seat belt buckle makes it convenient to secure. The main attraction of this product is its patented “Unwind & Bind” feature, which enables you to reach inside to stroke your dog without risking an escape.
OxGord pet carriers are approved for travel on most airlines, which is always a plus. It comes in two sizes, with the larger size holding pets up to 22 pounds.
Finally, those interested in fashion can chose from 11 different eye-popping colors. Like this product? Then you can check its price here.
Buying at the Right Time
Timing is another crucial component when buying a travel bag, especially if you bought it for a long trip. If at all possible, you should allow your dog some time to get used to it, much like you would for a new crate.
After all, he will be maybe spending hours at a stretch inside the strange confines. Open it and set it in a room where he normally plays in, and most likely he will take the opportunity to explore it. You could also get him gradually used to traveling by putting him inside for a trip to the nearby pet store.
Eventually, he will grow comfortable laying inside, and may even grow to like it. The more experience he has inside, the more likely he is to rebel when it’s time to take that long trip.
If you love to travel, or if you are away from home more often than you would like, there is no reason you can’t take your pet with you. Whether you go across the town or around the world, owners of small and medium-sized dogs have hundreds of options available that will make for a pleasant experience. But choosing the right bag consists of more than just picking one that pleases the eye.
Take some time to determine the proper size, and consider things like the durability of the fabric, the quantity of ventilation, the number of pockets, how easy it will be to clean while on the go, and if it is airline-approved. By paying more attention to how it functions than how it looks on your shoulder or strapped to your bicycle, you are most likely to choose one that is right for both you and your dog.