Can You Ship a Dog?

Paige Strickland Paige Strickland · Updated February 23, 2024

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A woman traveling on a train with her cherished dog packed in a bag.

When your family goes on vacation or moves to a new home, you try your best to make sure nothing — and no one — gets left behind, including your pup. If you’ve never shipped a dog before, you may have some concerns and questions about the process. The simple and quick answer to “Can you ship a dog?” is yes, but many variables contribute to safely getting your dog from point A to point B.  Luckily, there are also many resources available to help you prepare ahead of time and understand how dog shipping works — keep in mind that much of this guidance is also applicable to cat transportation.

The Legal Requirements for Shipping a Dog

Before your pup sets off on its journey, it’s important to check that you have all the required paperwork and vaccinations specific to your destination. Here is a guide to help you understand the legal requirements of pet transportation.

Check in with a Vet 

Is your pet up to date with their vaccinations? Arranging all the legal paperwork for your dog can take anywhere from one to six weeks, so make sure to plan your vet visit with plenty of time to spare. 

If you’re having trouble finding a vet nearby, FirstVet’s clinically trained veterinarians can assist you from your home. Through instant messaging or video, FirstVet will connect you with an expert to help you find the right local care. CitizenShipper has partnered with FirstVet in case veterinarian service or advice is needed while your dog is being transported.

Health Certificate

The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires a health certificate be issued within 30 days of your dog’s travel. This certificate verifies that your pet is in good health, showing no signs of serious illness or disease. You’ll need to tell your dog’s vet that they are traveling across state lines or out of the country to attain one.

During your dog’s appointment, the vet will:

  • Conduct tests for diseases that may be spread to other animals or people.
  • Update your dog’s vaccination records.
  • Administer new medications/treatments if needed.
  • Complete, sign and date the health certificate and give you a copy.

If you are questioning whether your dog’s pre-existing health concerns, age or demeanor are safe for travel, now would be the time to seek medical advice.

Traveling Within the States

Each state has their own requirements for new pets entering their boundary lines. A great tool to find your specific state is the interstate section of The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website. 

Traveling Internationally

Similarly, each country has varying laws and regulations regarding new pets, whether you’re exporting your pet outside of the U.S. or importing to the U.S.  

In addition, keep in mind that each country has different import or export fees.  

Can You Ship a Dog On an Airplane?

Yes, you can transport a dog on an airplane! There are three main types of airplane pet transport. 

As a Carry-On Passenger

Most commercial airlines will allow dogs to fly in-cabin with their owner as a “carry-on.” This means the dog will be in a carrier at your feet for the duration of the flight. This is a fast travel option, but it also has some critical pros and cons to consider.

Additional Expenses

Taking your dog as a carry-on is not free, but the fees may be manageable based on your budget. Delta Air Lines, for example, charges a $95-$125 fee each way on domestic flights. American Airlines and United, among others, also charge a $125 fee.


Another thing to keep in mind is the size of your dog. A Rottweiler or German shepherd will take up more space than a chihuahua. The general rule is that your dog needs to fit on the floor in front of you and under your seat. In most cases, your dog must weigh 20 pounds or less. 


Your dog must stay in their carrier under your seat for the duration of the flight. This will restrict their movement. There will be very little space for your dog to stretch their legs, and potty breaks will be challenging 30,000 feet above the ground. You’ll need to line your pup’s crate with a potty pad or towel. This can be unhygienic and stressful for extended periods of time since your dog is limited to such a small space.

As a Cargo Shipment

Some airlines allow owners to ship their dogs as cargo or a “checked bag” in a pressurized compartment below the plane’s passenger cabin. This method will get your dog to its destination quickly but has the most drawbacks of all the modes of transportation. 

Additional Preparation & Expenses 

A pet-cargo ticket can range from $500 to $1000 based on your dog’s weight and crate.  Layovers to the next flight may also tack on more transfer fees depending on the airline. 

In addition, airlines have specific crate requirements such as dimension, weight, and material, usually based on the International Air Transport Association’s regulations

Possible Extra Steps for Pet Cargo Travel:

  • Buying a crate that is appropriate for your dog’s size.
  • Organizing vet visits for proper paperwork/vaccinations.
  • Planning to arrive at the airport earlier than usual (the U.S. Department of Transportation recommends four hours before).

Well-Being of Your Dog 

The cargo area of a plane is an unpredictable environment. No one will be watching your dog for the duration of the flight. 

There is a slight chance of your dog getting injured or lost during cargo transport on a flight, but it is rare. According to the US Department of Transportation, 506,994 animals were transported by plane in 2017. Of these animals, 24 died, 15 were injured and one was lost.

There are several stressors that could affect the physical and emotional well-being of your dog while traveling in the cargo area:

  • Unsecured cargo that may fall on your dog’s crate.
  • Self-inflicted injury to the paws or mouth from scratching on the crate.  
  • Fluctuating air temperature and pressure.
  • Unexpected turbulence and loud noises.
  • Unkempt potty pads.
  • Possible mishandling by crew during layovers.

Breeds That Can’t Fly

Some breeds of dog are not suited for flying. “Snub-nosed” dogs, such as English and French bulldogs, bull mastiffs, Boston terriers, boxers and pugs, are not allowed on commercial flights. Their facial structure puts them at higher risk of oxygen deprivation or heat stroke.

Research the risks of air shipping pets and speak with your veterinarian to better understand if your dog is suited for air transport.

With an Air Nanny

If you and your pooch are traveling different routes, there’s also the option of hiring an air nanny. Air nannies are professional animal handlers, either hired by a breeder or working independently, that will escort your dog from the departing airport to the airport of your final destination and into your hands. 

If your air nanny takes your dog as a carry-on, you can be sure they are tended to during the duration of the flight. You can also hire a nanny to personally check your dog in the cargo hold.

This type of service can be pricey. You will be responsible for the air nanny’s plane tickets of the air nanny round-trip. The good news is, they may be able to waive some fees if they are frequent flyers, which will reduce your overall cost.

If you are considering an air nanny service, an online marketplace like CitizenShipper is a great place to start. Air nannies are searching for their next flight every day!

Can you Ship a Dog Using Ground Transport?

Car rides are likely familiar to your dog, whether it’s trips to the dog park, slobbering and wagging their tail the whole way, or stopping by your favorite coffee shop, where they also get a treat. For this reason, ground transport may be a less stressful experience for your pup. 

If you’re unable to drive your dog yourself, that’s OK! Reliable pet transporters are awaiting an adventure with your pup. When hiring a transporter through a service like CitizenShipper, you can make the journey stress-free for you and your pet. Your dog can ride in comfort, and you can relax knowing the logistics are taken care of.

Benefits of hiring a pet transporter through CitizenShipper to travel with your dog: 

  • Your dog will receive close attention from the driver.
  • Your dog will have routine stops to “go” and stretch their legs. 
  • All transporters are experienced in handling animals and are happy to spend time with your puppy pal!

Can You Ship A Dog Solo? 

Some long-distance pet transport services deliver several pets at one time — think of it as puppy carpool. This option may take longer, but will be more cost effective in the long-run. Another option is VIP service, or the transportation of one dog at a time.

Before booking a transporter, you should consider the following about your dog:

  • Age: Puppies and senior dogs may need more attentive care. 
  • Health conditions: Your pet may have a condition that will require several stops and continuous care. 
  • Demeanor: Some pups need their personal space, experience anxiety or have trouble making new friends.

If any of these factors concern you about your pet, solo transport may be your best route. Many transporters on CitizenShipper offer solo VIP rides. This way, your transporter can devote the necessary time and care for your dog. Although this option may come with an added fee, it also comes with the peace of mind that your dog is the center of your driver’s focus.

How to Find a Reputable Pet Transporter

Reputable pet transporting services should offer safer, easier and more customizable options for your dog’s travel. 

CitizenShipper has developed a marketplace that allows you to find your perfect match. Once you create a free listing detailing your specific transport needs, drivers come to you with quotes within minutes! Through a unique bidding system, you are in charge of who gets behind the wheel with your dog. 

Here are some things to look out for in your search for a reputable pet transporter:

Background-Checked Transporters

Establishing trust and transparency with your pet transporter is key. They should have the proper certifications, experience handling animals, and ratings to back up their service. back up their service. 

CitizenShipper is committed to providing the safest journey possible. Transporters on our platform undergo stringent background-checks and many are USDA-registered. CitizenShipper’s qualified transporters have over 100,000,000 miles under their belts and a genuine love for pets like yours — that’s why they’ve chosen this job.

Prior to booking a transporter, you’ll have the ability to view the following on their profile to compare your options:

  • Average rating on a 5-star scale.
  • Number of completed transports and cancellations.
  • Detailed reviews written by past customers.

Safety as #1 Priority

Pet transport services should leave you feeling like your pet is in the best care possible.

CitizenShipper is the only pet transport platform that provides a free pet protection plan and 24/7 Televet care for all pet shipments through FirstVet, proving that safety is our top priority. Long-distance travel can be taxing, but having access to a licensed veterinarian will put your mind at ease. 

Clear Communication

Communicating with your dog’s transporter is one of the simplest ways to alleviate stress while away from your furry friend. 

Through CitizenShipper’s internal messaging system, you will have consistent communication with your pet’s transporter. You may even receive cute pictures of the passenger along the way!

In addition, CitizenShipper has an industry-leading customer support team that helps ensure an easy and worry-free experience from start to finish:

Booking assurance guarantee 

CitizenShipper offers refund protection, a driver replacement guarantee and full support for your specific needs.

Stellar customer support, all week long 

CitizenShipper’s customer support agents respond 324% faster than the industry average and are ready to address any concerns or questions you may have.

Can You Ship A Dog?

Remember when you were searching up “Can you ship a dog?” Now you know it’s possible! CitizenShipper places your pet into the hands of trained professionals that match your pup’s specific needs.

Start planning your next adventure with your furry friend; Create a free pet transport listing on CitizenShipper today to receive quotes from drivers within minutes!