How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Dog By Itself?

Cagri Sarigoz Cagri Sarigoz · Updated March 13, 2024

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Sometimes traveling alongside your dog is impossible, no matter how you manipulate logistics. Understanding the options for dog transport and the cost to ship your dog by itself will better help you budget for pet transportation and keep your pet safe. Whether shipping your pet solo as cargo or hiring a professional pet transporter, your pet’s safety, well-being, and health are top priorities.

Remember for a stressed-out pet, there’s no alternative to the comfort of human touch and companionship. Instead of shipping a pet alone when you cannot join them on the journey, the most humane solution is to hire a professional. Their experience and compassion make your pet’s journey safe and stress-free — and even enjoyable!

Air Transport

Air transport is a fast and efficient way to move your dog long distances. Air transport options and costs will vary depending on your dog’s breed and size, time of the year and the distance traveled. While air transport can be quicker and more convenient for you, it’s hard on dogs. Being alone in the cargo area without a human to provide comfort can lead to high levels of stress in pets. That’s why we always recommend to hire a ground transporter whenever possible.


Small dogs may qualify as a “carry-on” item if they can safely fit in their carrier under the seat. A dog cannot travel in the cabin alone and must have a human accompanying their journey. Most major airlines, like Delta, United, and American, will charge around $125 per pet each way.

Air transport is limited to just one pet per person, and flights restrict the number of animals allowed in the cabin.

If you cannot travel with your dog, you’ll need to have a dedicated person responsible for pet transit. Pet transportation services are happy to accompany your pet in the main cabin and during layovers until your pet safely arrives at its final destination.


Large dogs cannot fly in the main cabin and must fly in the cargo hold below the plane. It’s possible to ship a dog alone, and airline companies usually employ animal specialists to help with logistics. Transporting your dog in the cargo hold is safe and secure, with plenty of precautions in place to help protect your dog.

Cargo costs will vary significantly depending on the airline, flight duration, and the size of your dog. Always contact your airline’s customer service department if you plan to ship your dog in cargo. Costs for cargo hold space usually start around $500 but can increase drastically with long flight paths.

Airline Domestic (In-Cabin) International
Air Canada N/A $270-$319
Alaska Airlines $100 N/A
American Airlines $125 $125
British Airways N/A $196
Delta Airlines $95 $200 ($75 to Brazil)
Frontier $99 N/A
Hawaiian Airlines $35 (within Hawaii)

$125 (within US)

JetBlue $125 $125
Southwest $95
United Airlines $125 Variable Amount
WestJet Cargo $50-$59 Variable Amount


Ground Transport

Your dog will need someone to travel alongside it if utilizing ground transport. Small dogs can ride on Amtrak trains if a passenger carries them aboard. Shipping companies like FedEx prohibit shipping pets like dogs and severely limit the live animals they’ll ship.

If using a vehicle to transport your dog, you must have a responsible driver to accompany your pet. Contact a trusted and vetted pet transportation service when you cannot ride with your dog.

Pet Transportation Services

Consider using professional pet transport services when you can’t accompany your pet during travel. Pet transportation services can provide a person to help handle complicated pet transport logistics.

Companies like CitizenShipper rely on a network of professional and experienced dog transporters. Professionals are happy to escort your dog during a flight or drive your pet to your new city.

The cost of a pet transport service depends on your trip and your pet. Larger dogs cost more than smaller dogs, and longer trips are more expensive. Air transit will include the cost to ship your dog, along with your transporter’s fee. Ground transportation can cost anywhere from $0.50 to $1.60 per mile.

Air Nannies

Air nannies are experienced pet shippers who stay with your small dog during the flight. Professional air nannies will accompany your small dog aboard the plane. Many breeders rely on professional air nannies to help transport puppies to their new forever homes.

The cost to hire an air nanny varies significantly, depending on your dog’s age and the flight duration. Puppies will cost more to ship because of their higher level of care. Short transits with an air nanny could cost $300, while longer trips can cost upwards of $1,500.

A dog and a cat promoting free driver quotes.

What Influences Pet Transportation Costs?

It’s tough to nail down a specific cost for pet transportation because many variables affect the total price. Understanding what can make pet shipping more or less expensive will better help you budget for your full trip. Some factors that influence transportation costs include:

  • Size – Larger dogs usually cost more to transport than smaller dogs. Smaller dogs can fit in the plane’s main cabin, requiring less care overall. The only exception to this rule is when you transport puppies.
  • Age – Adult dogs are cheaper to transport than young puppies. While adult dogs still need attention, they don’t need it as much as younger dogs. Alternatively, older senior pets with medical conditions or required medications can cost more to transport.
  • Duration – Longer trips cost more than shorter trips, regardless of your transport method. Although shorter trips are cheaper, they average a higher cost per mile.
  • Transport Method – Your dog’s transportation method can significantly influence the price. Airfare for small dogs that can be a “carry-on” is considerably cheaper than for a large dog in the cargo hold. Shorter flights are more affordable than long flights. Ground transportation may be cheaper than air transport, depending on the distance traveled.

Additional Costs

In addition to the actual costs to transport your dog, consider additional expenses you could incur while preparing for your next trip. Indirect costs can inflate your travel budget, so plan appropriately.

  • Vet – Transporting your dog usually involves a visit to your veterinarian. Not only do you want to make sure your dog is safe to travel, but you need to receive a CVI or Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. Some states (but not all) require a CVI to enter, especially if you’re arriving by plane. Pet transportation services also require a CVI issued within ten days of travel.
  • Carrier – Before traveling by air or ground, ensure you have the correct, approved, and correct, approved and safe pet carrier. Airlines have maximum carrier dimensions for the main cabin, while dogs flying in the cargo hold have even stricter crate requirements. A dog should remain in a carrier during ground transportation to keep your pet safe. While small carriers are usually under $50, crates for large dogs approved for air travel can get costly.
  • Travel Necessities – Ensure you have all the basics and necessities for safe pet transport. Refill any prescription medicines, pack plenty of food, and ensure your pet’s identification is current. Your dog’s identification tag and microchip should have valid contact information. Make sure your pet has an appropriate harness/collar and leash that will keep your pet secured.


When you can’t ride alongside your dog, trust a professional pet transportation company to help with logistics. Whether relying on air or ground transport, services like CitizenShipper are happy to accompany your pet. If your pet travels solo, know it will be well cared for and safe throughout its journey.