How Much Does It Cost To Ship A Dog To Illinois?

Paige Strickland Paige Strickland · Updated February 23, 2024

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Whether you’re eager to bring home your new pup from an out-of-state breeder or looking to make a big cross-country move to Illinois, you’re thinking about the safety and care of your furry best friend’s travel.

It’s hard to know what your best options are. You might find yourself typing “How to ship a dog” or “How to ship a dog to another state” into your search engine, but the results can be overwhelming. The added expenses to get your pet from here to there might also be a big question mark.

There are a couple of ways to transport your dog based on your budget and the specific needs of your pet. Planning ahead will help you and your dog have plenty of time to adjust to the changes ahead. Each method of transportation varies depending on a number of factors, so let’s weigh the options.

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Air Travel

Most commercial airlines allow dogs to ride alongside you in-cabin on the plane ride or separately in a part of the plane designated for pets. Either way you choose to ship your dog via plane, you’ll want to call ahead of time to make a reservation and ensure there’s enough space on the aircraft for the both of you.

Before your pup goes airborne, there are a few arrangements to add to your checklist prior to take-off:

  1. Update the health and vaccination status of your pet.
  2. Research flight fees & safety precautions.
  3. Find the right carrier or crate for your dog.

Health & Vaccination Status

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a set of requirements for pets that travel across state lines, regardless of the method of transportation. Prior to flying, you want to be sure your pet is in a state of good health with no signs of illness or disease. If your animal is very old or has pre-existing health conditions, flying might not be suitable. 

The USDA requires two things prior to air travel from your licensed veterinarian:

  1. Updated immunizations for your dog (Rabies always required)
  2. A valid health certificate issued within 30 days of travel

Each state has different laws regarding which immunization and paperwork are required upon entry. Illinois, for example, requires a rabies vaccine within 30 days of entry. This information can be found on a state-by-state basis through the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) website.

The costs of immunizations and health certificate can vary depending on the overall age and health of your dog. According to Veterinary Practice News, the average cost of a veterinary consultation can be between $25-$150, and the average cost of vaccines are between $20-$150. So you can plan on a range of $45-$300.

CitizenShipper makes it easy to ship a dog to Illinois.

Carry-On, My Friend

Most commercial airlines will allow you to ship a small dog in-cabin for an added cost. 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.

Each airline requires specific dimensions for carry-on dog carriers, so be sure to research what your airline’s regulations are before booking. The general rule is that it needs to fit on the floor in front of you and under your seat, and your dog must weigh 20 pounds or less. 

Your dog has to stay in the carrier under your seat for the duration of the flight, so they need to be comfortable and have enough room to move around. Make sure your pet spends some time inside it prior to flying to become adjusted.

Carriers that meet carry-on guidelines range from $50-$200 if you don’t have one already.

Precious Cargo

If you’re the owner of a three-foot-tall Great Dane or 100-pound Newfoundland, you may be hoping there’s another option. Some airlines allow owners to ship a dog as cargo or a “checked bag.” But don’t worry – they won’t be bumping around with all the suitcases. Pets are placed in a separate area in a pressurized and climate-controlled compartment below the cabin.

Due to a recent change in Covid-19 protocol some flights have temporarily put pet cargo travel on hold. You’ll need to research your specific airline ahead of time as regulations are changing with the status of the virus.

It’s worth noting that air shipping your pet is the most costly method of transportation; the price of a pet cargo ticket can range from $500-$1000.

This option also comes with a set of pet cargo crate requirements. According to PetTravel.com:

  • It must have enough room for your dog to move around freely and stand up without touching the top. 
  • It must be completely secured, some airlines do not allow plastic fasteners anymore, so a crate with crate hardware is the safe way to go. 
  • Your dog cannot protrude from the crate, they must be completely inside.
  • Your dog must have a food and water bowl inside the crate.
  • It must have ventilation on all four sides.
  • You must label the crate with your pet’s name and your contact information.

The price of an airline-compliant cargo crate varies depending on the size and weight of your dog, ranging between $50-$400.

Our dogs are our fur children, and we want what’s best for them, always. Affordability aside, safety comes first. 

The USDA requires that you can present a health certificate that was issued no more than 10 days before your pet’s departure if traveling via cargo.

Air shipping comes with the most health and safety risks of all transport methods because you are not able to check on the well-being of your pet from take-off to landing. 

Some types of breeds are not suited for flying; for example, “Snub-nosed” dogs such as English and French bulldogs, Bull Mastiffs, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Pugs, and more are not allowed on commercial flights due to breathing concerns.

Research the risks of airshipping pets to better understand if your dog is suited for this type of travel.

Ship your dog to Illinois using a transporter hired through CitizenShipper.

Ship Your Dog in Your Own Vehicle

Maybe you like the idea of a road trip with your best pal. If the uncertainty of flying feels like too much to bear, there’s always the option of transporting your dog yourself. This option can be safer and more cost-effective.

 Here are some things to add to your checklist before you hit the open road:

  1. Predict the cost of gas
  2. Evaluate time constraints & plan ahead
  3. Book sleeping arrangements

Gas Prices

Before you make your trip, you’ll want to estimate how much gas will cost. If you’re making a cross-country trip, you’ll need to make multiple stops to fill up. Prices vary from city to city and state to state, so a rough estimate will be your best bet. And, of course, we’re all dreading it – according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, from January to June 2022, the price of gas rose by 49%.  

Pit Stops

If you’re trying to arrive at your destination at a particular time, take into account your stops for bathroom breaks, leg stretches, and food along the way. When planning bathroom breaks, take into account the function of your dog’s bladder, how much water they’ve had, and how long they’ve been sitting down. Most veterinarians recommend stopping every 2-4 hours. It may be helpful to plan your stops at rest areas, dog parks, or pet stores. This ensures you can take your dog with you, and you won’t need to leave them in the car when you go yourself. 

Pet-Friendly Hotels

If you plan to stay overnight on the way to your destination, research hotels that are pet-friendly ahead of time and book as soon as possible. Some may require an extra fee, and others may not allow pets at all, so ask the hotel’s booking agent if you’re not sure. You’ll want to get a comfortable good night’s sleep before another day of driving.

3. Hiring a Professional Driver to Ship Your Dog 

Some of us do not have the energy or resources to drive cross-country, and that’s okay! As a dog parent, you have to take care of yourself too. Luckily there are people who specialize in handling and transporting pets with the experience that speaks for itself. 

Things to consider when hiring a professional dog transporter:

  1. Find a driver you trust
  2. Establish an open line of communication with updates on your pet
  3. Hire a professional that reflects your budget

Trust is Key

Whenever your pet is away from you, whether you’ve hired a dog sitter while you’re on vacation or while you’re at work for a couple of hours, it’s easy to wonder if you’ve left them in good hands. Without a doubt, it will be the same when you leave your pet with a driver. It’s important to evaluate the driver’s experience; they should already know how to transport a dog in a car, and have plenty of practice doing so. Reviewing their qualifications will help you feel at ease and ensure the safety of your dog. If possible, directly ask the driver any questions you have before you hire them. 

Put Sparky on the Phone

Communication with the driver throughout your dog’s journey will also be very important to calm your nerves. Research services that will provide updates along the way and up-to-date GPS tracking if possible. This way, you will know exactly when to expect the arrival of your furry friend!

Pick Your Price Point

Hiring a professional driver can also be a great way to get the experience you want for your pet. There are some companies that provide bulk services, keeping costs low, and others that offer VIP packages. Wherever your budget lies, there’s a driver out there that has the equipment, vehicle, and experience you need.

You’re In Good Hands With CitizenShipper 

Everyone’s trip is one-of-a-kind, from the needs of your pet to the duration of the ride; that’s why we provide one-of-a-kind experiences at CitizenShipper. In fact, we’re the #1 pet transportation platform in the US, trusted by over 100,000+ pet lovers. Simply put, it’s the best way to ship a dog to Illinois or anywhere else in the country!

Through our years of pet transportation experience, we’ve developed ways to save you money without sacrificing quality care:

  • Driver Bidding System

Once you create a free listing for your pet’s transportation needs, we send you an array of drivers that suit your criteria. Our expert drivers are excited to hang out with your best friend – within minutes you’ll receive quotes at no cost. This allows you to pick a driver rate that seems appropriate for you.

  • Personalization & Flexibility

On each driver profile, you can view their experience badge, customer reviews, and photos from past shipments to help choose who is right for you and your pet. Each driver is background checked before taking on pet transport services. 

You can also exchange messages directly with drivers to learn more about their services and arrange the details of your pet’s trip. If you feel like you’ve found the perfect driver, but they’re a bit above budget, send them an offer!

  • Safety As a Top Priority

CitizenShipper is the only pet transport platform that provides a free pet protection plan and 24/7 televet care for all pet shipments. If your pet requires specific veterinary care, medical, or other related costs associated with the illness or injury during the shipping journey, we’ve got you covered. 

You have access to communication with your driver while they’re on the road and the ability to track their movement via GPS. 

The advantages are clear. When you hire a professional driver with CitizenShipper, you can create a safe and personalized journey that will suit your budget and the specific needs of your pet. Our goal is to deliver your best friend, tail-wagging.

Create a listing with CitizenShipper today and get free quotes from professional pet shipping experts within minutes!


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