How to Choose the Right Pet Cargo Crate

Cagri Sarigoz Cagri Sarigoz · Updated: July 10, 2023 / Published: July 30, 2021

If you’re transporting a pet of any kind in your vehicle, it’s really important to make sure they’re in an appropriate pet cargo crate. This crate keeps your animal safe during the journey but also increases the safety of the whole entourage in the car. Animals not in the cargo crate may distract the driver or passenger and cause an accident. This article explains how to choose the right pet cargo crate. 

What is a Pet Cargo Crate?

A cargo crate is essentially a small cage or enclosure that is either permanently installed inside a vehicle or temporarily secured inside for transporting animals. They can be constructed from a range of materials and come in a huge array of sizes for animals of all kinds. 

Portable or Fixed?

Pet cargo crates can be fixed inside the vehicle or they can be moved in and out and used as a carrier crate too. Many professional transporters have fixed cargo crates that allow them to carry multiple animals in a safe and secure manner. If you have large dogs such as greyhounds, creating a permanent fixture can make travel easy and simple. Often the architecture of the car is used as the core elements with walls and doors created from the plastic-coated wire. Vans and station wagons are perfect vehicles for these crates. You can see an example in the image below from BlackHound.

Two dogs in a dog cage at the back of an SUV

Portable crates can be fixed inside the vehicle for the journey using the car’s seat belts or other fixings. This ensures the crate won’t move during the journey. Portable crates are a good option for smaller pets such as lap dogs or cats that require being carried to the vet or to the destination. See below for an example of a portable carrier attached to the seat with a belt. This one is made by Gen7.

If you choose a portable crate, the decision-making doesn’t stop there. You also need to choose the type of crate.

Hard-Sided Kennels

A suitable travel carrier for your dog should be made out of sturdy material — it could be wood, plastic, or metal. Standard crates are usually made from plastic. If you ever consider air transport for your pet, most airlines require a plastic kennel. It’s regarded as the best way for transporting a dog because they give room for your pet to move around, are easy to clean, are the most durable and offer the most security for your pet. One of the best hard-sided kennels for 2023 is this SportPet Dog Travel Crate with Wheels. It’s International Air Transport Association (IATA) approved for air travel, has a “floor-gutter” for easy clean-up of accidents, is available in six sizes from small to XXXL, and best of all, includes removable and lockable wheels!

Soft-Sided Crates

If you have a small pet, a soft-sided carrier might be a good choice. Usually, soft-sided carriers are designed to be portable and light. You can easily fold them up and take them out when needed. When choosing soft-sided pet cargo carriers, pay attention to the manufacturer’s information about the size since many dog owners report that they have to go a size bigger than usual with this type of crate. We love this Sleepypod Air Cabin Pet Carrier for 2023. It’s made specifically to fit under airline seats, but it’s also a very safe option for car travel. Sleepypod is one of three pet cargo carrier manufacturers to be crash test certified by the Center for Pet Safety. 

Wearable Dog Carriers

If you have a small, lightweight pet and just need a carrier for your city walks, a wearable carrier can be a good option. They come in many shapes and sizes, such as front or backpacks, and you have your hands free while your pet can watch the surroundings in its cozy package. Usually, they are washable and lightweight. This is a good option if you need to go partly by vehicle then ride or walk some distance. One of 2023’s highest-rated wearable dog carriers is the Alfie Pet Reversible Pet Sling Carrier. It’s affordable, stylish and available in multiple colors!

Choose the Right Carrier Size

One of the essential factors for selecting the right carrier for your pet is size. Too big and the animal can move too much. This could cause a distraction or allow the pet to hurt themselves. If it’s too small the animal may feel trapped and panic. The crate must allow your pet to sit, stand, turn around and lie down comfortably with its paws extended. Measure your pet — one measurement from the base of their tail to the tip of their nose and one from the floor to the top of their head. Add 3-4 inches to determine how tall and long the carrier should be. If you own a snub-nosed dog, go for a bigger size as these breeds need more space for clear breathing. Enough air is essential. If you know your pet likes to be cuddly and cozy, you may go for a more snug fit. 

How to Decide?

Ensure that your pet cargo crate is the right size, is well ventilated and gives your pet a cozy and safe way to travel. A suitable carrier is the second home of your pet outside the house. It’s your pet’s safe space in stressful driving situations so it should be comfortable and easy to handle. 

Getting Your Pet In and Out of Its Crate

  • Think about your pet’s mobility and behavioral issues.
  • If you have large, obedient dogs, a fixed large container will be perfect.
  • If you have an old dog that needs to be lifted into a car, a softer, lower-positioned crate would be the better choice. 

Think about the type of journey you are planning to take with your pet. If you plan on long road trips you should choose a crate that allows for food and water to be served to them while they’re inside. If you are only going on short trips you won’t need water in their crate. However, make sure you take a spare bowl for a drink on the side of the road. It’s handy if the kennel of your choice already has an area for labeling. 

How to Prepare the Cargo Crate for Your Pet?

After all that careful decision-making, it’s now time to introduce your pet to its new home. Don’t rush things with a journey straight away. Allow your pet to gradually get used to its new carrier by placing it close by and allowing your pet to spend some time in the crate without moving. Once there is some familiarity, you can take a short trip. Carefully observe your pet and check to be sure they seem comfortable, have enough space and don’t get stressed. 

When your pet needs to travel, consider a professional pet transporter. Find the right transportation service for your needs with CitizenShipper’s top-rated shipping marketplace!