Everything You Need To Know About Dog Transport

Matt Matasci Matt Matasci · Updated January 16, 2024

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Moving your pet to a new location requires meticulous attention and incredible logistics. Whether using air or ground transportation, there are several aspects to consider for your pet’s safety and the overall cost. Hiring a professional dog transportation service can help you manage logistics, taking stress off your shoulders.

What Are the Options for Long Distance Dog Transport?

Although a long-distance trip sounds daunting, you have several dog transport options. With both air and ground transportation choices, taking a long-distance trip, even across the country, is possible. Ultimately your budget and your pet’s breed and size will largely dictate your transport options.

Dog Transport via Airline Cabin

Small dog owners can often bring their pets to the main cabin for a flight. Many airlines will accept small dogs as a “carry-on” item. If the dog can fit in a soft-sided carrier under the seat, your furry friend is welcome to accompany you on your flight. You will need to purchase a pet ticket, though. The cost of a pet ticket varies depending on the airline you’re flying. 

Pet Shipping with CitizenShipper

Remember, many airlines require an advanced reservation for your pet, and space can be limited. Airlines also limit main cabin pets to one dog per person, so traveling with multiple dogs can become challenging.

Dog Transport via Airline Cargo

Those with medium to large-breed dogs will have to travel with their pet as part of the cargo. Larger dogs will have to fly under the plane in the cargo hold. Although once thought questionable for your dog, airline travel in the cargo hold can be safe.

Many airlines have strict regulations regarding the size and style of the crate for your pet. Airlines implement these regulations to keep your pet safe throughout its flight. Keep in mind that airlines may have breed restrictions that prevent snub-nose (brachycephalic) dogs from flying in cargo. These breeds have a shortened snout that can cause serious health concerns with changing air pressure.

Dog Transport via Ground Transportation

One of the cheapest options for dog transport is ground transport. Train travel with Amtrak is the most affordable option, costing only $25, but it limits your dog’s size. Amtrak trains only accept small dogs that can safely fit inside a crate under the seat.

The next best option for long-distance travel is ground transport using a pet transportation service. Ground transportation is an excellent alternative to airline travel and works best with medium to large-breed dogs. Further, brachycephalic dogs will find the safety they need with ground transport options.

Dedicated pet transporters on CitizenShipper will work with you to create a customized travel plan at an agreed price point. Our service representatives can help answer questions and advise the best pet transport method for your dog.

Can You Ship Pets Through FedEx? 

FedEx can handle all aspects of day-to-day shipping necessities, but pet shipping, such as dog shipping, is strictly prohibited. The shipping giant has a policy against shipping live animals, including pet cats and dogs.

There are some minor exceptions to the rule for live animal shipments. FedEx will ship livestock if it is for an animal-based business and will also ship certain zoo animals, tropical fish, non-venomous reptiles and corals.

Is it Safe to Transport Your Dog?

Air transport can be safe for pets, traveling in either the cargo hold or the main cabin. Strict regulations surrounding acceptable crates for dogs help reinforce safety standards. Ensuring your dog has access to food and water and maintaining a consistent temperature in the vehicle keeps your dog safe and comfortable.

Ground transportation is another option for your dog and can be a great alternative to air travel. Ground transport is easily the safest option for large dogs or snub-nose breeds. Flying in the cargo hold can pose certain health risks to brachycephalic dogs, so many airlines have strict breed restrictions. Ground transport is the safest transport option and often the only one.

If you take the proper precautions, transporting your dog is incredibly safe. Using a pet transporter helps ensure overall safety and reduces stress. Many people will rely on a pet transportation platform, like CitizenShipper, to help manage logistics and travel arrangements.

Ground dog transport is recommended for snub-nosed breeds of dog.

How Much Do Dog Transportation Services Cost?

The overall transport cost for your pet will vary significantly based on your trip duration and the type of dog you have. The breed and size of your pet can drastically change the available transport options and the total cost.


Transporting a dog by air has varying costs. Smaller dogs that fit under the seat in a crate can qualify as a “carry-on” item. Although the price differs between airlines, the pet fee for riding in the main cabin is usually around $125. Be sure to reserve your pet’s space early, though; space is limited, and most airlines allow only one pet per person.

Your dog may have to fly in the cargo hold if you have a medium or large breed. Costs vary across airlines, but pricing can be upwards of $500. Remember that an approved hard-sided crate is necessary for cargo transport, adding to the total cost. Large crates approved for flying can cost hundreds of dollars.

A dog transport service can help arrange travel logistics and accompany your dog along the way. Your pet transporter will help manage and care for your dog during long layovers and ensure it reaches its final destination safely. Pricing for customized transport service will vary depending on the travel duration and your dog’s specific breed and size.

Ground Transport

Dog ground transport covers a wide range of options, from trips around town to cross country. Pricing for ground transport usually is based on the duration of the trip. Your pet service will provide quotes based on your requirements. Typically, pet transport is between $0.50 and $1.60 per mile. While longer trips are more expensive, shorter trips tend to cost more per mile.


Using a pet transportation service for international travel can help eliminate stress by handling complicated logistics. International pet shipping demands more documentation and often requires a pet nanny service to accompany your dog. Further, many countries require a mandatory quarantine period which can increase the total international shipping cost. International costs usually include a combined total of necessary veterinary certificates, pet transportation fees, and possible quarantine boarding after landing.

Preparing for Dog Transport

Getting your dog ready for a big trip can be nerve-wracking. With proper planning and preparation, you can ease your mind by knowing your pet will be well cared for and safe. Ensure you have the correct documentation and an appropriately sized crate before departure to help make the process even smoother.


Before sending your dog off with a dog transportation service, a visit to your veterinarian is in order. You want to ensure your pet is safe enough to travel and certified for legal entry to your new state.

Your veterinarian will give your pet a thorough wellness exam, possibly checking for infections or parasites. After confirming your pet is current on required vaccinations, you’ll receive a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. This certificate, abbreviated as a CVI, is commonly required for transport between states.

Every state will have slightly different regulations regarding required vaccinations and documentation, so check your state’s rules before departure.


Your pet’s safety is the utmost priority, beginning with a secure crate. You’ll want a dog crate that is large enough for your pet to stand and turn around. Hard-sided crates are great for ground transport, while people often prefer soft-sided crates for traveling in the airplane’s main cabin.

If you’re transporting your pet in airline cargo, check the airline’s regulations regarding cargo kennels. Many airlines require space for external food and water bowls or a litter box inside the crate.

Additional Supplies

Before loading your pet for transport, pack the essentials your pet will need. Always pack any necessary medications (with thorough dosage instructions). Don’t forget to send them with enough food for the entire trip. Pack your pet’s favorite toys or blankets for long trips to help soothe them throughout their journey.

Driver sits behind the wheel in the red car.

How Does Dog Transport with CitizenShipper Work?

Let the experts figure out the logistics surrounding dog transport with CitizenShipper. Our team is made of caring pet experts passionate about keeping your pet safe and happy. Getting started with CitizenShipper is easy and free.

First, create an account using our CitizenShipper platform. You’ll answer some basic questions about your pet and your journey. Detail the size and breed of your dog and how far your pooch has to travel. Posting your inquiry is always free and visible to countless dog transporters.

Experienced dog transporters will send you price bids to transport your dog. You will get to read about each transporter and chat one on one about relevant details. Once you find a pet transporter that works for you, confirm the transport.

When booking, you’ll pay a small fee to CitizenShipper. We calculate your fee using a sliding scale based on the trip’s mileage. From there, you will pay your pet transporter directly using your transporter’s preferred payment method.

When the time comes, your pet transporter will pick up your pet and begin the journey. You’ll get photo and video updates along the trip to ensure your pet is safe and happy. Your pet will arrive at the final destination, brought right to your door. Pet ground transport is easy, affordable, and stress-free with CitizenShipper.

Dog Transport FAQs

It’s normal to have plenty of questions regarding pet transportation. After all, we have a loved member of your family in our hands. Understanding our process at CitizenShipper can help ease your mind, making your pet’s transport less stressful for everyone involved.

How long will the trip take?

Every trip and pet is different, so the duration of the trip will vary. People commonly use pet transportation services for simple trips across town. Others will rely on pet transport for cross-country trips.

Once you have selected your expert pet transporter, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss detailed logistics. Together with your transporter, you’ll be able to determine a timeline for your pet’s arrival.

How often will my transporter stay in contact with me during the trip?

Keeping track of your pet’s well-being is easy with CitizenShipper. Your pet transporter will provide regular updates about your pet. You’ll get real-time updates regarding your pet’s comfort, so you can rest assured that your furry family member is well cared for.

How do I get in contact with my transporter?

The CitizenShipper platform makes it easy to communicate with your transporter. You’ll be able to message before the trip, ironing out fine details regarding transportation. Your transporter will send you regular updates with photos and videos throughout your pet’s journey. With consistent updates, you can be at peace knowing your dog is in good hands.

Once the trip has been booked and you’ve paid our fee you’ll be able to exchange phone numbers and emails with the transporter, making it easier to stay in touch in your preferred method.

How stressful will the journey be for my dog?

Most dogs handle ground transportation much better than alternative transport methods. Still, some dogs experience anxiety from being in a crate or riding with a new handler. If your dog encounters anxiety, try talking with your veterinarian about mitigation tactics.

Medication can help create a stress-free environment for your pet. Or, pack some comforts from home, like toys and blankets, to soothe a nervous pup.

How often will you let the dog out?

We understand your pet’s well-being is of primary importance. Your dog needs to stretch its legs and use the bathroom. How often your dog is let out is determined by the type of transport and the duration. Generally, transporters that use CitizenShipper let the dog out for a potty break every 3-4 hours.

Long flights can be broken up with layovers, while regular pit stops can separate longer drives. For shorter trips across town, a bathroom break may not be necessary.

How long has CitizenShipper been transporting pets?

CitizenShipper was founded in 2008, and has been a go-to marketplace for pet transport since its early days. CitizenShipper is not a transportation company, but it is used by companies and individuals from all over the United States that are professional, passionate driver that prioritize pet care. While some drivers on CitizenShipper are new to the industry, others have years of experience. You’ll have the opportunity to view each transporter’s profile and decide which level of experience and qualifications are right for you.