How to Get the Best Pet Ground Transport Prices

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated January 16, 2024

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Let’s imagine three different scenarios where you want to know how to get the best pet ground transport prices:

Scenario 1: You’re hired for a job that’s located across the country — you have to pack up your entire life and move to a new destination. Your beloved pet, a member of the family, has to go with you, and you have to figure out what is the best dog ground transportation company to go with.

Scenario 2: Your sick aunt needs help around her house, and you decide to help her out – after all, she paid for your college tuition. You work remotely and only need to stay with her for a month or two. But where do you leave your precious cat? The best bet is to get a cat ground transport company to ship it to your destination.

Scenario 3: You want to go on vacation and bring your pet with you. Deciding on the mode of transport is easy, but now you need to figure out which pet ground transport company to choose.

In all of these scenarios, you want to bring your pet along but have a limited budget. How do you get the best pet ground transport prices? Many factors come into play, and we’ll explore them in this article.

Three Different Types of Pet Transport

Before delving into the best pet ground transport options and prices available, let’s look at the different modes of transportation.

Transporting Your Pet on a Train

A cross-country train ticket will cost you nearly $500, which means the ticket to any closer destination will be cheaper. Amtrak allows pet transportation, but there are several requirements and costs, which you can check here. Although the cost of having your pet on board totals $25, total costs for train travel will vary depending on distance.

The most important factor that decides whether train transport will work for you? Only small dogs are allowed.

Transporting Your Pet by Automobile

This method of transportation is the easiest because there are no requirements besides documentation. However, planning the logistics may feel overwhelming and driving a pet yourself is the most time-consuming.

Distance is a major factor. If you live in Florida and are going to San Diego, it will be a longer, more expensive trip than for someone living in Arizona and going to San Diego.

Let’s consider the variables: driving cross-country and from one state away. The table below shows you a breakdown of costs with the different factors involved.

These variables include one other person accompanying you because sometimes you need to take a break from driving. Let’s face it, one person driving hundreds of miles can be straining to the eyes. These factors also differ depending on what state you are coming from.

Transporting Your Pet Via Air Travel

Air travel is the fastest way to transport a pet, but it can also be a logistically challenge and the most expensive option.

Smaller pets have the advantage here. Because of their size, they can ride in the cabin with their owners. Your pet’s carrier — a cost roughly running from $25 to $75 — should be small enough that your pet can fit inside and underneath the seat in front of you. The one-way amount for United Airlines, Delta Airlines, and American Airlines sits at $125. That isn’t much. However, with a larger pet, the costs increase substantially.

Large pets must go in the cargo hold. The special crates required for cargo travel are around $100-$200, and the cost of transporting your pet in the cargo hold can range from $500-$1,000. The exact costs are determined at the time of booking.

The total costs for transporting a pet via air travel can range from $500 (for a small dog) to a whopping $1,100 for a large dog.

What Determines Pet Ground Transport Prices?

The price tag for transporting your pet will vary depending on a number of factors. Let’s take a look at them.

Moving Distance

Distance can play a major factor in the price of pet ground transport. If the move or the relocation is happening a few hundred miles away, it’s safe to assume that the associated costs will run no more than a few hundred dollars. That’s less time the driver is on the clock, less vehicle usage and fewer fuel charges. But if the move is thousands of miles away (cross-country perhaps), expect to pay more for the driver’s long hours, the vehicle’s wear and tear, the fuel costs and the other expenses associated with the journey.

Pet Size

Pets come in all shapes and sizes. Turtles will be easy to transport because they’re small enough to fit in a cage that can easily be placed in the back seat of a car. Cats are also easier since they’re smaller and require less space. But if your precious pet is a Doberman or an Akita? That’s going to increase the price, which is not surprising. A good thing to consider is that if you have multiple pets, there may be a package deal you can take advantage of.

Health Documentation

If you’re moving to another state, the destination state will have specific rules and regulations regarding pets. Check online to see what requirements are needed. Most states and pet transportation companies (and airlines) will require your pet’s vaccination documents and a pet health certificate filled out by a veterinarian, which can cost anywhere from $50 to $300. A pet health certificate is a form that documents that your pet is up-to-date on their vaccines and is in good health condition to travel.


It’s best to buy a crate for your pet for a long-distance drive. The pet transport service may require them if traveling with other people’s pets. If your pet is traveling alone, it’s still a smart idea to have a crate. Check with the company if they require a crate for the journey. Crates for small pets can range from $50-$100, but larger crates can cost up to $200.

Pet Cargo Crate Tips and Tricks

  • Make sure your pet can stand up, turn around in the crate, and does not touch the top.
  • The crate should have secure locking with pins extending past the extrusions above and below the door.
  • The crate should be ventilated on all sides.
  • It’s a good idea for the crate to have your dog’s name and your contact information.
  • Water and food bowls should be attached to the door and accessible from outside of the crate.
  • The crate must be secure with hardware instead of plastic fasteners.

What to Look for in a Pet Ground Transport Service

It’s all about the process of elimination when choosing a pet ground transport service.

  1. See what types of pets they will take and the prices for the types of pets they do take. Some transport services may not allow certain breeds.
  2. The type of transportation is also key. The best pet transport service is one where an animal handler will always be with them, and there aren’t other pets.
  3. It’s important that all pet transport services adhere to the USDA’s rules and regulations in pet handling, and if one does not, steer clear of them.
  4. Communication is essential for your pet’s safety and your peace of mind. If the pet ground transport company provides regular updates, that is a good sign.
  5. Some pet transport companies offer door-to-door delivery. That is a great way to relieve you of the stress in dropping off or picking up your pet.
  6. Lastly, customer service. Excellent customer service means that the pet transport company will take care of your pet as if it were their own. Pay attention to the small details and how they go about their customer service duties.

How to Get a Bargain on your Ground Transportation Rates

Traditional pet transport companies can be more expensive, and sometimes it’s best to explore other options. Before you choose a cheaper option, be careful not to fall victim to the trap of fake pet shipping companies. Look for the warning signs, like using untraceable phone numbers or personal email accounts, and never give out personal information before doing proper research and vetting.

The CitizenShipper marketplace can be the solution to finding a driver to transport your pet that is affordable but also safe and trustworthy.

Using CitizenShipper’s Marketplace

Most people don’t have the time or experience to drive cross country with a pet. It can also be overwhelming and stressful. The option of hiring a traditional pet transportation company can become too expensive.

Using a two-way marketplace like CitizenShipper to find an independent pet transporter is a great solution. You can save money on transportation costs because drivers bid for your business, most often saving up to 60%-70% compared to a traditional pet transportation company.

Using CitizenShipper is Easy!

  • Once you post a free listing on our marketplace, a fleet of vetted and screened, USDA-registered drivers will send you quotes within minutes.
  • You can compare bids and instantly chat with drivers across our network. Because drivers compete for your business, you’ll be able to select a quote that fits your budget.
  • Once you choose the driver you like best, you’re ready to book your trip!
  • Payment is received before or after delivery, an option usually decided by the driver.
  • There is a modest fee that we charge that varies per mileage and accounts for our stringent vetting process.

We don’t recommend booking a driver based solely on price; often, the best transporters charge a little more. Read reviews, communicate with the driver through the instant-messaging system and look at past experience before making your decision.

The bottom line is your beloved pet will be in good hands with CitizenShipper’s qualified drivers, who are animal lovers who will treat your pet like he’s a part of their family.

We work hard to ensure your peace of mind throughout the entire transaction. CitizenShipper also provides some added benefits for you so you’re even calmer — up to $1,000 Pet Protection guarantee, a messaging system where you can communicate directly with the driver and 24/7 TeleVet access through our partner FirstVet.

The Wrap-Up

Researching the best pet ground transportation rates can feel overwhelming. There are a lot of factors to consider. Each company has their own pet requirements and rules, their own fees, and they may not accommodate your pet transport needs. Finding the right one at the right price can be hard work.

The alternative is going through CitizenShipper’s marketplace. It is safe and secure, and drivers on CitizenShipper understand your pet means everything to you. They will ensure proper, loving care during the trek, whether long or short. By trusting drivers on CitizenShipper, you will have peace of mind and comfort knowing your cherished pet is absolutely in the best of hands.

Transporting your pet doesn’t have to be expensive, stressful or overwhelming. Start the easy process today. Post your pet’s transport today, and get free quotes in minutes!