What To Look For In A Dog Shipping Service

Paige Strickland Paige Strickland · Updated January 16, 2024

Ensure Your Furry Friend's Comfort!

  • Fast and easy
  • Only pay when you book

Traveling long distance and entering new surroundings can be an anxiety-inducing endeavor for anyone, including your furry best friend. If you’re unable to travel with your dog to their new destination, that’s OK! The good news is there are professionals who can make your pet’s journey a breeze and calm your nerves while you’re apart. The first step is knowing what to look for in a dog shipping service and what mode of transportation will be safest and comfiest for your puppy pal.

The following guide will help you weigh the available options based on your preferences and your dog’s specific needs.

First Things First: Health Documents 

It’s important to consult your pet’s veterinarian about which mode of transportation will be safe and comfortable for your dog before they take their trip. Some pets can’t handle traveling long distances due to illness, injury, age or temperament. 

Pet Shipping with CitizenShipper

While your pet is getting a check-up, you may need to update its health records. Each state has different laws regarding immunization and paperwork required upon entry. For example, New York requires A Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) issued 30 days or less prior to entry and a current Rabies vaccination for animals three months of age and older. You can find information state-by-state through the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) website.

The USDA requires two things from your licensed veterinarian before air shipping your dog:

  1. Updated records of your pet’s immunizations (Rabies is always required for dogs).
  2. A valid CVI issued within 30 days of travel.

Types of Dog Shipping Service

Air Pet Shipping Services

Pet shipping companies may provide air nanny services if you wish to airship your dog. An air nanny acts as a chaperone for your furry friend — they provide one-on-one attention during the duration of the flight and ensure a smooth journey to the destination. 

Most commercial airlines — like Delta, American and United, to name a few — allow small dogs to ride as a “carry-on” in the plane’s cabin. To bring a dog as a carry-on, it must be under 20 pounds and fit in a carrier below the seat. An air nanny will ride on the plane with your pup, routinely checking on them and attending to their needs.

If your pet is a larger breed, like a golden retriever or German Shepard, there is also the option of cargo shipping your pet. Air nannies can help get your pet to the correct area of the airport from the departure location and back into your hands at the destination.

Air pet shipping is the fastest option but comes with the most risks and can be quite pricey.

Ground Pet Transportation Services

Choosing ground transport for your pet comes with many benefits:

  • Riding in a vehicle is often less stressful for dogs because being in a car is familiar, and they can see their surroundings. 
  • Some pet transportation services offer door-to-door pickup.
  • Any size of dog can travel this way.
  • It can be more cost-effective, especially if you are transporting several pets at once.

Besides being the most cost-effective and reliable, ground transportation is also the safest. Some dogs are not fit to fly, commonly due to health, age or demeanor-related risks. For example, “snub-nosed” breeds of dogs (such as pugs, boxers, French bulldogs, etc.) and cats (such as Persian, Himalayan, or Burmese) are prohibited from flying due to respiratory risk.

Qualities of a Great Dog Shipping Service

Pet Shipping Services should bring peace of mind while your puppy pal is in their hands. The following qualities make a dog shipping service not just good, but great.

Safety as a Guarantee

The pet shipping service you choose should have the resources to access medical care for your pet should an emergency occur.

For example, all CitizenShipper transporters have access to a platform called FirstVet. This 24/7 Televet service connects transporters with a licensed veterinarian should your pet need medical attention during their trip. On a call with FirstVet, they may receive medical advice, treatment recommendations and referrals to clinics nearby.

Experience Handling Animals Like Yours

One-size-fits-all does not apply to pet transportation, and your pet shipping service’s options should reflect that — a calico kitten and a 10-year-old Bernese mountain dog require different care and equipment. 

Before you book a pet shipping service, look into the following:

Qualifications & Certifications 

Trust is key to alleviating stress about the person traveling with your furry friend. A reputable pet shipping service will take the necessary steps to ensure their transporters are qualified to handle animals and have a clean driving and criminal history. This will ensure a safe trip for both the transporter and your pet.

All transporters booked through CitizenShipper undergo a strict background-check and many are USDA-verified. When you choose your dog’s transporter, you can rest easy knowing they’re in the hands of a trained professional who takes pride in what they do.

Reviews From Past Customers

Reading reviews from customers who have hired a pet transporter before will give you insight into what they did and did not like about their services.

Each pet transporter that lists their services on CitizenShipper has a profile that will display their ranking on a 5-star scale based on past customer reviews and any additional comments. You can also view how many trips the transporter canceled and completed.

Clear Communication 

Your pet shipping service should be able to answer any questions about how they will care for your pet. Through CitizenShipper’s internal messaging system, speak directly with your pet’s transporter to learn more about their services and arrange the details of your pet’s trip.

Additionally, receiving updates and staying in contact with your pup’s transporter during the trip will ease your nerves. 

Reliable Customer Support

Nothing is more stressful than sitting on hold when you need some extra help. In case of an emergency or a change of plans, you’ll want your pet shipping service to have a reliable customer support team.

CitizenShipper’s customer support agents respond 324% faster than the industry average. 

When you book a pet transport service with CitizenShipper, you also have the Booking Assurance Guarantee on your side. This feature provides:

  • Refund protection against fraudulent transactions.
  • Driver replacement assistance in case of last-minute driver cancellations.
  • Refund guarantee should things not go according to plan.

What Dog Shipping Service is Right for Me and My Pet?

CitizenShipper connects you with a wide variety of transporters. When choosing who will be caring for your pet, keep in mind their unique needs as well as yours.

Some things to keep in mind about your pet:

  • Size
  • Age
  • Breed 
  • Demeanor
  • Overall health and specific conditions
  • The amount of attention they require

Other aspects of your dog’s trip to keep in mind are the budget and time frame you have in mind.

For example, transporters on CitizenShipper will be able to provide either regular transport services or a VIP service.

During typical ground transport, a pet shipping company picks up your pet while on its scheduled route to drop off other pets. You can think of it like an Uber pool — it’s a budget-friendly option that cuts out many transportation costs. 

A VIP ride is more costly but ensures constant one-on-one time with the driver. This option may be more ideal if your dog needs more attention from their caretaker, or if you simply want the best of the best!

Product Recommendations for Dog Transportation

Travel Crates 

Your pet’s crate will be their home away from home while on their journey, and finding the correct fit for your dog is a necessity. To ensure safe and comfortable travels, keep the following aspects of your pup’s crate in mind:

  • Can my dog lie down comfortably?
  • Can my dog sit upright without touching the top of the crate?
  • Does my dog have enough space to turn around completely while standing?

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has a detailed guide that can help you find the correct dimensions for an airline-compliant crate. 

Collar, Leash and Microchips/Dog Tags

Packing your pet’s collar, leash, and/or harness is essential for pit stops and exercise breaks during your dog’s travels. 

Be sure to secure an up-to-date ID tags on your pet’s collar in the rare event they become lost. This will help your pup return safely if a passerby finds them. Some online stores like Amazon, now offer ID tags that you can track from your phone!

Dog tags should include:

  • Your name
  • Your pet’s name
  • Your current phone number
  • Your pet’s destination address

Microchipping your pet is not a necessity, but it will add extra peace of mind. According to Veterinary Centers of America (VCA), humane societies and animal shelters have the ability to scan for microchips if lost, stray, or injured animals are brought in. The unique ID number on the microchip will veterinarians contact you. Microchips placed in pets are tiny — about the size of a grain of rice. The procedure is fast, safe and appears to be relatively pain-free.

Collapsible Bowls for Food and Water

The food and water bowls your pet uses at home may be bulky to pack and transport. Collapsible bowls save space and reduce splashing if set out for your pup while the vehicle or plane is moving. 

Puppy Pads, Doggie Bags and Cleaning Supplies

Accidents happen — that’s why it’s better to overpack on cleaning supplies and equipment for when your pup needs to take a potty break. 

Puppy pads or towels will be necessary for air travel since your pet will be confined to the cabin or the cargo hold area for the duration of the flight. While on the road, puppy pads are also useful in case your pet has an accident between pit stops for potty breaks. In case any leakage occurs, having a few towels and cleaning spray on hand are always a good idea.

Don’t forget doggie bags!

Toys and Treats

Traveling should be fun! Dogs can feel the pangs of boredom, just like us. Having variousf toys on-hand will keep your pet happy and occupied during their journey.

 Ideal toys for car or plane rides include:

In addition to pets and pats, your dog’s transporter can also reward your pup’s good behavior with a treat or two!

How CitizenShipper Helps You Find a Dog Shipping Service

CitizenShipper’s platform is a safe, and simple place to find the best find the best transporter for your beloved pup. 

Services Tailored To Your Pet’s Needs

Instead of spending hours researching potential pet transporters, you can fill out a quick questionnaire on CitizenShipper about your pup to create a listing

You’ll just need the following information:

  • Your dog’s name, size, breed, and a photo.
  • The pick-up location and drop-off locations.
  • Your ideal transportation dates.
  • Other information that will help your pet get the best care.

Within minutes, you’ll receive quotes from qualified drivers who are happy to travel with your pet! 

CitizenShipper’s unique bidding system gives you the ability to pick the perfect transporter to ride with your furry friend. In addition, it keeps rates low because prospective transporters are competing for a chance to take on another job they love.

Safe Travels!

Pet transporters hired through CitizenShipper have safely and successfully completed over 100,000,000 trips. To embark on your furry friend’s next adventure, create a free listing today!

This post contains affiliate links. Read more here.