Air or Ground Transport – What’s the Best Way to Ship Your Dog?

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated January 17, 2024

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Are you getting ready to move and need to ship your dog? Whether you’re traveling a long distance or just a few hours away, you’re probably wondering whether air or ground transport is best for your pup.

 Pet travel can be a stressful process for pet owners. Transporting your dog either by plane or ground can be a tricky process, so it’s important to do your research and make sure you’re making the right decision. There is no need to make lists and Venn diagrams. In this article, we’ll compare the advantages and disadvantages of both types of transport to help you decide which one is right for your pup.

Advantages of Air Transport

One of the main advantages of air transport is speed. If you’re traveling a long distance and need your pup to get there quickly, air transport may be the best option. In addition, air transport is usually more comfortable for your pet. Airlines have strict regulations in place to ensure your pup’s safety and comfort, and they’re usually the fastest way to get your pup to its destination.

Advantages of Ground Transport

On the other hand, ground transport may be the best option if you’re looking to save money. Ground transport is usually much less expensive than air transport, so it’s a great option if you’re on a budget. In addition, ground transport companies typically offer personalized care. They’ll take the time to get to know your pup and make sure your pet feels comfortable and safe during its journey.

Disadvantages of Air Transport

The biggest disadvantage of air transport is cost. Air transport is usually much more expensive than ground transport, so it may not be the best option if you’re trying to save money. In addition, there are a lot of restrictions in place when it comes to air transport. Depending on the airline, there may be limits on the size and weight of your pet, as well as restrictions on the type of crate or carrier you can use.

Disadvantages of Ground Transport

The biggest disadvantage of ground transport is time. Depending on the distance, it can take several hours or even days for your pup to reach its destination. In addition, there’s a risk of delays or complications along the way. While ground transport companies do their best to ensure your pet’s safety and comfort, there’s always a risk of something going wrong.

Ground Pet Shipping Cost Factors

The total cost of transporting your pet will vary based on various factors. Let’s take a look at them.

Moving Distance

Distance plays a major factor in the price of pet ground transport. Usually, the price is determined per mile traveled.

Pet Size

Smaller pets will be cheaper than larger pets. Also, if you have an exotic pet other than a cat or dog, there may be some extra fees associated with that. A good thing to consider is that if you have multiple pets, there may be a package deal you can take advantage of.

Health Documentation

You will need a health certificate that lists the dog’s vaccine and health updates and must be filled out by a veterinarian registered with the USDA. These health certificates can cost anywhere from $50-$300, as they will state.


The pet transport service will require a carrier or crate for traveling, especially if they are traveling with other pets. Crates for small pets can range from $50-$100, but larger crates can cost up to $200.

Air Pet Shipping Cost Factors

Most airlines will only take dogs and cats. Smaller pets are easier to transport by air. If they’re under a specific weight limit and their carrier fits under the seat, they can travel with your or a hired air nanny in the cabin. These tickets are far more affordable than tickets for the cargo hold. 

Transporting a dog in the plane’s cabin is estimated to be around $125 one way. Most airlines only accept small dogs in the main cabin for domestic flights, with the exception of American Airlines, Hawaii Airlines, and Alaska Airlines. 

For international flights or the three airlines that accept pets in the cargo hold, the price might be more expensive. They will also need a special crate that meets all airline requirements. Airline cargo hold tickets can range from $200 and $1,000.

Ground Transportation Is More Reliable

The reality is that ground transportation is more reliable than air travel. There are several reasons why it’s a better option than flying.

  1. On most airlines, there is a prohibition on pets other than cats and dogs.
  2. Flying can stress your pet, especially if they are in the cargo hold.
  3. With the recent flight cancellations over the holidays, flying can be unreliable because of weather and other factors.
  4. Ground travel logistics are easier and can offer door-to-door delivery, which is impossible with air travel.

Bottom Line

When it comes to shipping your pet, it’s important to do your research and make sure you’re making the right decision. Air transport is usually the fastest and most comfortable option, but it can be expensive. Ground transport with pet shipping companies is usually much less expensive, but it can take a long time for your pup to reach its destination. Weigh the pros and cons of both types of transport to decide which one is right for your pup.