When working in pet transportation, it’s easy to forget that this field is kind of exotic to most people. We get all sorts of questions from would-be shippers, some dealing with very basic topics. And in this category, “can you send a puppy through mail” ranks surprisingly high.
The short answer would be “no you can’t”, but there are exceptions. USPS does not ship live animals, except for bees, birds, and scorpions under special circumstances. Similarly, UPS won’t accept live animal shipments except for fish, amphibians, mollusks, and some reptiles. FedEx “does not transport household pets such as dogs, cats, birds and hamsters”, but may transport fish or livestock.
More importantly, mailing a puppy is a bad idea even if you find a private postal service that’ll do it. Whether you’re a breeder or not, the animal’s health should feature high on the list of priorities. You’ll want the dog to be at least 6 weeks old before the move, and fully weaned.
Here’s a quick rundown of all the things you’ll need to consider before shipping a puppy.
Preparation and research
In addition to the age requirement outlined above, there could be health considerations depending on your dog’s breed. Particularly vulnerable animals (such as young puppies) might not be able to handle airline travel, for example. Certain high-risk breeds are also denied by airlines. We strongly recommend consulting a veterinary professional before arranging the trip.
However you decide to send the puppy, you’ll need a suitable shipping container. There’s a wide variety of pet carriers and crates available out there. Try to find one that’ll keep puppies safe and snug for the duration of the trip. Once you’ve purchased the container, it’s usually a good idea to let the animals adjust to it in advance.
One more thing to consider is the timing of the trip. It’s usually more hazardous to move animals in very hot or very cold weather. Airlines and other transporters often adjust their pricing depending on the season. Many will outright refuse to allow dogs onboard if the temperature is outside of safe parameters. For puppies, even stricter limitations are often in place.
And finally, if shipping internationally or across state lines, research the laws applicable at your destination. Some jurisdictions may require special licensing, health certificates, or even quarantine periods. If this is too much trouble, consider hiring animal transport professionals — they should already know what to expect.
Shipping a puppy by plane
If you opt for airline transportation, make sure to book well in advance. A direct flight would be the safest option for the puppies, reducing the amount of time they’ll spend unattended. When talking to the airline’s representative, let them know of any special requirements regarding the dogs’ health. They’ll inform you of the specifics of their animal transport policy.
Whichever airline you choose, you’ll need to provide them with what’s called a CVI — certificate of veterinary inspection. Take the puppies to a licensed vet, and they should be able to issue one. Either the airline or the vet should let you know if there’s any additional paperwork required.
To avoid upset stomachs, you shouldn’t feed puppies 4-5 hours before the flight. Don’t deny them water if they’re thirsty, though! Ideally, they’d be a little tuckered out before they board so that they can sleep through the trip. Their carrier should have food/water bowls attached, so they can snack when and if they need to.
Make sure the crate is clearly labeled as specified by the airline.This typically includes the animals’ id, details on any meds they’re on, as well as your contact information. It’s up to you how you furnish the insides, but absorbent blankets and towels are usually a good idea.
Get to the airport as early as possible! You’ll want to bring the puppies into the cabin as carry-on luggage, but most airlines impose a limit. Getting there three hours before take-off reduces the chance of other people flying with pets taking your spot.
Shipping a puppy by car
If you decide against flying puppies to their destination, road transport is probably the best option remaining. It’s slower than flying but more affordable, and in some cases much safer. If lacking the time to drive across the country personally, you’ll need to hire someone to do it. Many online marketplaces let you list your shipment for free, then match you with drivers in your area.
So, the first step to shipping your puppy by car is booking the right driver. Ideally, you’d find a reliable, seasoned professional who loves animals and knows the route well. That’s not always easy, of course. You’ll need to browse through the profiles of the transporters bidding on your shipment until you find the right one.
Depending on which website you’re using, you may be able to talk to drivers before hiring them. In doing so, you can get a sense of what they’re like and how committed to the job they are. But crucially, you can let them know of your requirements! Explain what level of service you want, what each puppy’s medical situation is like, etc. The more direct you are, the better your odds of finding a driver that can meet your demands.
Preparing a puppy for road transport is similar to prepping one for air travel. They still need to be placed inside a suitable carrier crate. They must still go through a check-up at the vet clinic before the trip. Vaccination records and other documentation must still be provided. And of course, pack all the food and meds they might need during the journey.
If uncertain about any of these details, you can always consult with the transporter. Chances are they’ve done this before, so they should be able to guide you through the preparation.
Whichever of the two methods you choose, the puppies you’re shipping should be much safer than they’d be if you sent them by mail! For added peace of mind, consider outfitting them with GPS trackers or microchip IDs.
If in need of further advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly.
Stay safe, and happy shipping!