No matter the reason, transporting a pet long distances is stressful. You may be a breeder with customers thousands of miles away or make a big cross-country move and can’t personally take the family cat along for the ride. When it comes time to hire a pet transportation service, it’s important to research which company best fits your and your pet’s needs. After all, your peace of mind and the animal’s safety and comfort are at stake. So what are the best pet shipping companies in the USA?
It’s confusing to wade through the dozens of pet transportation companies on the market. How do you know which one will do the best job and put you at ease while your animal is on the road or in flight? A few big names in the industry come up over and over on “best pet shipping companies in the USA” lists, like CitizenShipper, Airpets International, and Air Animal.
As their name indicates, Air Animal focuses its pet transportation services on air travel. That’s not feasible for a lot of pet moves, especially if it involves large breeds, snub-nosed breeds, or people shipping from locations with a very hot or cold climate.
Here are 15 great alternatives to Air Animal you can use for your next pet shipping job!
What Are the Costs to Consider?
If you’re debating driving an animal long distances on your own or using a pet shipping service, the cost is certainly part of the discussion. There are several variables to consider when trying to calculate the cost.
- Air transport may seem less expensive but preparing your pet for travel, and other costs can make it more costly than ground transportation.
- Distance is the most important factor in how much the trip will cost. Pet shipping companies typically charge on a per-mile basis.
- The size of your pet could increase the cost of the trip.
- If your pet needs special needs, it could limit your options if transporters cannot accommodate them.
- VIP service — when a pet is shipped by itself — comes with a premium price tag.
- The weather and time of year can affect the cost. During high-demand travel periods, pets have less space in the cargo hold.
Most pet shipping companies require you to include the details of your trip, the kind of animal you’re transporting, and any special considerations before providing you with a quote. Some businesses require a fee or deposit to see your quote, while others, such as CitizenShipper, always allow you to see quotes for free.
15. Animals Away
Animals Away has a lot of experience in the pet shipping industry. It’s shipped over 50,000 pets over the last 30+ years. It has an A+ rating from the BBB, is a member of the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA), and has a USDA Handler’s License.
- Animals Away has a USDA Handlers License and is a member of IPATA.
- Pet shipping containers are provided by the company.
- Ground transportation isn’t available in most of the United States.
- You have to contact the company to get a price quote.
14. Animal Land
Animal Land specializes in air transportation though it does have ground options. The biggest benefit of this company is it connects you with a personal move instructor that arranges shots, tickets and all the flight paperwork.
- Almost 25 years of experience shipping animals.
- Handles every aspect of the trip, including shots, paperwork, and booking the flight.
- Its services are mostly based around air travel.
- Animal Land doesn’t provide carriers, so you’ll have to buy one for the trip.
13. Happy Tails Travel, Inc.
Happy Tails Travel claims an impressive 100% safety record since it began shipping pets in 1995. Like Animal Land, this company handles the logistics of shipping your pet.
- It makes all the arrangements for your pet’s travel.
- There’s a multiple-animal discount policy.
- Only transports pets in the cargo hold of an airplane.
- It doesn’t offer a pet transportation service on the weekends.
12. Starwood Animal Transport
Starwood Animal Transport has been in the industry for 50 years and offers international and domestic transportation. They offer ground and air transportation. They offer door-to-door service, but you have to pay an additional per-mile fee for transportation from one of their 15 hubs.
- Your pet is delivered in a specially-designed RV.
- All pet shipments are made in two-person teams.
- If you can’t pick up or drop off your pet from a hub, you are charged a $3 per-mile rate for door-to-door service.
- Starwood Animal Transport isn’t BBB-accredited.
uShip is a transportation marketplace instead of a dedicated pet transportation service. As a more modern alternative, you can find good rates compared to traditional shipping companies. However, few of the drivers on uShip are pet experts or dedicated pet transporters, so your mileage may vary.
- uShip offers more flexibility than traditional pet shipping companies.
- You can save money by using a marketplace instead of professional pet movers
- The carriers aren’t employees of uShip.
- Most drivers on the platform aren’t pet experts or dedicated pet transporters.
10. Airpets International
Airpets International was founded in the UK five decades ago, mainly shipping pets by air. Over the years, it’s expanded to international services using an Air Nanny. Airpets International is a member of IPATA and has USDA accreditation.
- It has over five decades of experience shipping pets.
- You can purchase exercise and grooming add-ons.
- Airpets International is one of the pricier pet shipping options. Domestic moves start at $1,000, and international moves start at $2,000.
- Ground transportation is available from Airpets International, but it’s not the company’s bread and butter.
9. Pet Van Lines
If you have a larger breed of dog and need to have it transported, Pet Van Lines is a good alternative to Air Animal. Pet Van Lines is exclusively a ground transport business unlike flight-based transportation companies. Because it uses a large fleet of transportation vehicles, there aren’t any breed restrictions when you use Pet Van Lines.
- Pet Van Lines transports pets using a fleet of larger vehicles.
- There are no breed restrictions to using Pet Van Lines.
- It’s neither a member of IPATA nor a BBB-accredited company.
- Pet Van Lines only offers ground transportation.
8. Pet Express
Pet Express was founded in 1978 and focuses much of its business on airplane transportation. Like other plane-based pet transportation companies, it handles every step of the shipping process. That means you won’t have to worry about anything like booking the flight, handling vaccinations, and doing health inspections.
- It provides “comfort stops” to feed the pet and give it exercise during long layovers.
- It has a “crate calculator” feature to choose the right pet carrier for your trip.
- Pet Express doesn’t provide pricing information on its website.
- It doesn’t provide ground transportation service.
7. Worldwide Animal Travel
Another international pet shipping company is Worldwide Animal Travel. Founded and based in Canada, it ships pets to just about any location in the world. So if you are shipping puppies from Canada or you’re a Canadian breeder shipping to international clients, Worldwide Animal Travel is a good option.
- Air Nannies provide “comfort stops” when there are layovers.
- You can arrange for door-to-door service.
- Worldwide Animal Travel doesn’t offer ground transportation.
- Its transportation services are more expensive than other options.
6. Royal Paws
Royal Paws is the right choice when you want to give your pet a VIP experience. This pet transportation service uses private vehicles to deliver each animal.
- Royal Paws uses private, climate-controlled SUVs or minivans to transport pets.
- Real-time updates are provided by the driver through Facebook.
- Royal Paws is one of the more expensive transport options.
- It’s not a member of IPATA.
Based out of Austin, PetRelocation has been moving pets since 2004. It considers itself a full-service pet travel agency so it will guide you through every step of the moving process.
- PetRelocation values quality over quantity, so you know your pet is well-attended to.
- It has more than 15 years of experience shipping pets.
- It ships a limited number of pets each month so space may be limited.
- PetRelocation’s services are focused on air travel.
4. Exec Pets
Exec Pet is a unique pet transportation service because its drivers are active or retired military members. It also puts a special focus on transporting pets with special needs.
- It specializes in transporting animals with disabilities or health issues.
- You can track your pet with GPS during the drive.
- Exec Pets doesn’t fill out paperwork or facilitate health inspections.
- It’s not a member of IPATA.
3. Enroute Pet Transportation
Enroute Pet Transportation is similar to Royal Pets because it provides exclusive VIP pet transport. While that is a more luxurious and less stressful experience for your pet, it’ll cost you more than other options. The company does provide group transportation options.
- Your pet can travel in a private vehicle.
- It has financing options so that you can make low monthly payments.
- It’s a more expensive option than other pet transporters.
- Enroute Pet Transportation isn’t open on weekends.
2. Paws N’ Relax
Founded in 2017, Paws N’ Relax is one of the newer businesses on the scene. However, during that time the company has made a strong name for itself in the pet shipping industry. The company is owned and operated by a veteran, which is certainly a big bonus for some pet owners.
- Paws n’ Relax offers services as an Air Nanny as well as ground transportation.
- It will ship rare or exotic pets like birds and reptiles.
- It usually only ships two pets at a time.
- You need to submit your information to receive a quote.
CitizenShipper is a pet shipping marketplace similar to the model of uShip. However, many of the drivers on the platform are pet experts with businesses dedicated specifically to transporting animals. On the marketplace, you can connect with independent transport providers, pick the best driver for your needs and budget, and communicate directly with the driver. Because drivers bid on your shipment, you’ll save money compared with traditional pet shipping services.
- Once you post a listing, you’ll get quotes within minutes.
- It’s always free to view your bids.
- An internal communication system makes it easy to discuss details with the driver.
- Detailed driver profiles on the marketplace help you feel comfortable choosing a driver.
- It’s the only pet shipping company with a Booking Assurance Guarantee and a pet protection plan.
- CitizenShipper only provides domestic pet transportation services.
- It’s a shipping marketplace and not a transport company.
- The drivers are independent transporters and not pet shipping companies.
Air Transport Versus Ground Transport
For many pet owners needing to ship a pet, the choice between air and ground transportation is fairly easy. Ground transport is a no-brainer if you have a large breed, a pet with emotional or psychological needs, or an animal prone to breathing issues. But there are times when both options are viable. When that’s the case, how do you choose?
Here are a few pros and cons when you’re deciding between air and ground transport:
Pros of Air Transport
- It’s faster than ground transportation, meaning you’ll be reunited with your family members sooner.
- If your pet is small, it can ride in the cabin of the plane with an Air Nanny.
- Some air transport companies take care of the travel logistics.
Cons of Air Transport
- Due to current COVID conditions, only a few airlines ship animals.
- The animal can spend several consecutive hours in the crate during the boarding and disembarking process.
- Large breeds of dogs have to be transported in the cargo hold.
Pros of Ground Transport
- Easier to get updates from the transporter on the pet’s status while on the road.
- Ground transportation doesn’t require as much advance preparation.
- Usually, it’s the safest option — though flying and driving are both very safe modes of transporting pets.
Cons of Ground Transport
- Long-distance trips can take a great deal of time.
- You can’t ship a pet internationally using ground transportation.
- Overnight lodging on long-distance trips can be difficult and add expenses.
When you need to ship your pet long distances, you want to choose a pet transportation service that will fit your budget but also allay your stress. Using a shipping marketplace like CitizenShipper allows you to review how the individual shipper has performed in the past and chat directly with them to be sure they’re the right choice. List a pet shipment on CitizenShipper today and get free quotes within minutes!
Question & Answer Time!
After reviewing the 15 alternatives to pet travel, you could potentially have some questions that pop in your mind. Let’s take a look at the questions people like you have about alternatives to pet transportation.
Qualities To Look for in the Best Pet Shipping Companies in the USA
Pet shipping companies can be all over the spectrum in regards to how good or bad they are. It’s important to look after these essential qualities so that you pick the right one.
- Make sure they take all types of pets and breeds.
- Ensure the animal handler will always be with them.
- Make sure all pet transport services adhere to the USDA’s rules and regulations in pet handling. Go to IPATA to see any informative articles about recommended pet transporters.
- If they offer door-to-door delivery, take the option. It will relieve stress in dropping off and picking up your pet.
- Communication, regular updates and excellent customer service is the key for your pet’s safety and your peace of mind.
How Much Do Pet Shipping Companies in the USA Usually Cost?
There are many variables that go into the cost of transporting your pet. Those include: moving distance, pet size/breed/type, equipment needed, and health documentation needed. The overall estimates that have been found by doing online research conclude that the cost for a short distance move is $100-$300 and for a long distance move is $400-$600.
If you want to take the air travel route. The cost breakdown usually is as follows:
In cabin: $125 pet fee + $50 carrier = $175 + Plane ticket
In cargo hold: $500+ pet fee + $200 carrier = $700 + Plane ticket
If you want to hire air nanny services, you’ll have to pay for her roundtrip ticket and her charges and fees (about $200), but the above prices are usually the same.
What Makes CitizenShipper Different From Other Pet Shipping Companies in the USA?
As the #1 Pet Transporter in the country, CitizenShipper sets itself apart from other pet shipping companies for a variety of reasons. It’s trustworthy, safe and affordable. And because drivers bid for your business, you can save a whopping 60%-70% compared to a traditional pet transportation company.
Using CitizenShipper is Easy as 1-2-3!
- Plug in your pet travel info and a list of screened, USDA-registered drivers will send you quotes within minutes.
- Compare bids, chat with drivers across our network and once you find the driver you like best, you can book your trip!
- We have some added benefits for your peace of mind: up to $1,000 Pet Protection, Booking Assurance Guarantee, a messaging system where you can communicate directly with the driver and 24/7 TeleVet access through our partner FirstVet.
Though, we’ll throw out a caveat. Don’t book a driver solely based on price. Remember that saying, the best things in life aren’t free. That motto holds true because the best drivers charge a little more for their services. We recommend you read reviews, communicate with the driver through the instant-messaging system and look at past experience before making your decision.
We truly work hard to ensure your peace and tranquility throughout the entire process. At CitizenShipper, the drivers in our network are animal lovers who will treat your pet like they’re a part of their family.
What Do I Need to Do To Prepare for Pet Transportation?
Follow these three steps to ensure your pet transportation process goes smoothly:
- Go to the vet to get up-to-date vaccinations and a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. The CVI is important, as authorities won’t let your pet travel without one. The CVI must be filled out and signed 10 days prior to travel. All immunizations need to be updated at least 21 days before travel.
- Research the destination state entry requirements. If you have all the documents ready, you won’t be hit with a curve ball at entry. Find a list of states’ Department of Agriculture pages on the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture website. The list of requirements from each state are on the USDA’s page for interstate pet travel.
- Buy necessary and essential equipment for your pet. This includes a carrier, first-aid kit, calming chews or sprays, among other items.
Simple Pet Transport Tips
Besides researching and hiring one of the best pet shipping companies in the USA, here are some simple tips to make a move easier for you and your pet:
- Get your pet used to moving supplies and boxes (it will be a hectic place before during the moving process).
- Don’t change the routine you have with your pet. Stick to the schedule!
- Pack their items last and unpack them first.
- Arrange the pet transport prior to your move, so you don’t have to run around doing that instead of focusing on the move.
- Pet-proof your new home (when you arrive) and stick to your pet schedule, too!
If you want a stress-free pet transport experience, plug in your pet’s info and get a quote in minutes! Discover the reason CitizenShipper is among the best pet shipping companies in the USA!
Content Writer at CitizenShipper. I’ve also been published on The Penny Hoarder, Mommy Poppins and mxdwn.