How Much Does it Cost to Ship a Pet Across the US?

Cagri Sarigoz Cagri Sarigoz · Updated July 1, 2024

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Shipping a pet is more costly for long trips, like a journey across the US. Total pet transportation costs will vary significantly depending on your selected transport method; distance traveled and the type of pet you have. Navigating the associated costs and fees with cat or dog transport can help you set an accurate travel budget for your furry companion.

Transport a Pet Via Airlines

Flying can make short work of a long trek across the US. Airlines have convenient flight paths, sometimes direct, that can traverse the country in just a few hours. The cost to transport your dog or cat using air transport will vary depending on your trip and pet.

Small pets like cats and some small dogs have the luxury of flying in the main cabin. Pets must be small enough to fit in a carrier comfortably that can fit under the seat. Most major airlines will charge $125 per pet each way for domestic travel. Pets are limited to only one pet per person, and typically each flight has a strict limit on the number of allowed animals based on the size of the plane.

Pet air transport will look different for those traveling with large dogs or multiple pets. Large dogs must ride in the airplane’s cargo hold. The cargo hold is safe, with regulated pressure and a consistent temperature. Along with your dog’s reserved space in the cargo hold, you’ll need to invest in a large, approved crate for your dog to travel.

Fees for cargo hold spaces vary with the airline company and the total travel distance. Most flights will start at $500 for cargo space and go upwards. Before reserving your flight, you should check prices and pet restrictions with your airline.

Pros: Airlines can be faster than ground transportation, quickly getting you and your pet to the final destination. For small dogs and cats, transporting your pet costs around $125 for a domestic flight.

Cons: Airline travel can be costly and prohibitive for large dogs riding in cargo. Brachycephalic cats and dogs cannot fly on a plane due to health risks. Airlines restrict cabin pets to just one per person, which can be difficult for people with multiple animals.

Train Transport

While only a viable option for some, train transport is exceptionally cost-effective. Amtrak trains allow a single pet under 20 pounds, including the carrier’s weight. Amtrak doesn’t allow pets on every train, so always check if your planned route allows pets.

Transporting your pet on Amtrak ranges between $29 and $39. You’ll need to purchase your pet’s ticket in advance, and each train is limited to only five pets per trip.

Pros: Train transport on Amtrak is extremely affordable and safe for small dogs and cats.

Cons: Only very small dogs and cats qualify for train travel, and space is limited to only one pet per person.

Ground Transportation

Ground transportation is safe, affordable, and efficient, especially if you have a large dog or are moving with multiple pets. You can drive your pet yourself or use a pet transportation service.

The cost of your ground transport will vary depending on the distance traveled. Long trips will cost more, although shorter trips tend to cost more per mile. Most people expect to pay about $0.50 to $1.60 per mile.

Keep in mind that ground transport can have some indirect expenses associated. You’ll have to invest in a large, sturdy crate for your pet. For long trips across the US, you may have to budget for an overnight stay in a hotel.

Regarding the safety and well-being of your pet, ground transport is the clear winner. This type of pet transport is perfect for anxious animals or pets needing frequent bathroom breaks or medication stops. Ground transport is the only safe option for brachycephalic cats and dogs.

Pros: Ground transportation is one of the most affordable transit options and is an excellent choice for those with multiple pets. Large dogs and brachycephalic animals are much safer traveling on the ground.

Cons: Ground transport can be long and tedious compared to a quick flight. Stopping mid-way across the country for an overnight stay at a hotel can complicate logistics and add more expenses to your trip.

Pet Transportation Service

Moving across the country can be complicated and time-consuming, but pet transportation services can help. From managing logistics to accompanying your pet on their journey, pet transporters are worth their weight in gold for keeping your pet safe, healthy, and happy.

Use a trusted professional pet transport company like CitizenShipper. Creating a profile and listing your trip on our online platform is always free. We need some basic information about your pet and your final destination. Then, wait for certified, experienced, and professional pet shippers to send customized price quotes.

CitizenShipper only charges a small fee based on the overall trip distance. You’ll discuss the transport costs with your driver, agreeing to the final price and payment method. Your transporter will pick up your pet, and you’ll meet again at your final destination.

Because every pet and trip is different, prices for a pet transporter will vary. Large dogs typically cost more than smaller pets, and puppies and kittens will cost more because of their extensive care needs.

Pros: Pet transportation services are cost-effective options that help manage complicated logistics for you. Throughout the trip, your transporter will stay in regular contact with you, sending up-to-date photos and videos of your pet.

Cons: You must provide your transporter with a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, ensuring your pet is healthy enough to travel. Be sure to include your visit to the veterinarian and any needed vaccinations in your travel budget.


Whether it’s dog or cat transport, traveling across the country with your pet can be expensive. Understanding your travel options can help you better choose the safest and most affordable pet transportation option. Using a pet transport service is a great way to streamline logistics, reduce costs, and keep your pet safe.