Pet Shipping Cost Estimate for Cats and Dogs

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated July 7, 2024

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There’s always a scenario where pet transport and its costs will pop up. You may be thinking of moving to another state or country. Or, you’ve already accepted a job somewhere else. Maybe you want to visit your dear aunt in Maine (or maybe she lives in France). Whatever the reason, you’re probably wondering, “How much does pet shipping cost?” There are many methods that you can use. From air travel to train travel to hitting the road with the good ol’ Chevy. There are also traditional dog transport companies — whether it’s domestic travel or international. It’s a good idea to take a look at all the price factors and give a cost estimate for pet shipping in the United States.

Factors Determining a Domestic Pet Shipping Cost Estimate?

There are numerous factors that affect the price of transporting your beloved dog (or your cherished cat) to its destination. Let’s take a look at these factors.


When it comes to ground transport, the distance of the pet transport plays a major role. Usually, A short journey will be less expensive and a long journey more expensive, since usually companies charge per mile.

For air travel, the price usually doesn’t vary too much and sits around $125 for a one way trip. Just remember, most airlines (with the exception of Hawaiian and Alaska Airlines) don’t accept pets in the air cargo hold. This means only small cats and dogs are allowed to fly, and it must be in the main cabin inside a carrier and under the seat in front of you at all times.

Pet Size/Breed/Type

There are usually restrictions when it comes to pet size. Most airlines don’t accept pets other than cats and dogs. They also don’t accept snub-nosed breeds in the cargo area.

When it comes to ground transport, size affects cost. The bigger the pet, the bigger the cost. It’s as simple as that. You may want to look into securing a package deal because it could save you money if you transport multiple pets.

Health Documentation

Before the pet travel can begin, go to a USDA-registered veterinarian and get a health certificate. You’ll also need to ensure all your pet’s immunizations are up-to-date. The health certificate costs vary, but usually, they run at around a $100-$300 fee. You should check to see what health documentation is required at your destination, as well.


Safety is important in all journeys — whether it’s by air or ground. To ensure your pet’s safety during the trek, you should buy a durable crate. Crates for small pets range from $50-$100, but larger crates can cost up upwards of $200. You should also consider buying other essential products like a first aid kit, your dog’s favorite toys or blankets, calming chews for your dog, calming sprays for your cat and other items that could make the trip easier.

Pet Shipping Cost Estimate Within the United States?

The prices between air travel and ground transport differ. There are various factors that affect the price. The question you’re asking is “How much will it cost and what kinds of fees are attached?” We’ll look at the various factors and arrive at a reasonable pet shipping cost estimate.

As we explained before, the equipment costs can range from $100 to $300 (which includes the crate, the first aid kit and other products that can come in handy). The health documentation fees issued by a vet will cost between $100-$300.

Next, calculate the cost of the trip for your pet. Essentially this is how much it will cost to get from Point A to Point B. You should also consider the costs associated with your pet type and breed. Those costs can vary wildly. For air travel, you’re looking at a typical airfare fee of $125 one way for your pet, plus your own full-priced ticket.

For ground transport, the consensus is that the estimate ranges from under $1,000 to as high as $5,000 and usually per mile charges. Why the big range? That usually depends on the company and any added benefits you may want to purchase to make the pet travel experience easier and safer for you.

So there you have it. Air travel estimates can run at a low of $350 to a high of $800, but there are a lot of restrictions that airlines put on pet travel. For ground transport, the total estimate ranges from as low as $1,200 to as high as $5,600 if you want all the perks.

Ground Transport is More Reliable

We talked about the varying prices between air travel and ground transport. You may be leaning toward air travel, but let’s take a look at a few reasons why ground transport is better and more reliable.

Here are some several reasons why.

  1. When it comes to flying, most airlines have a prohibition of large dogs and cats.
  2. Flying can stress your cat and dog because they are in a confined space for a long period of time.
  3. With the recent flight cancellations over the holidays, flying can be unreliable because of weather and other factors.
  4. Ground travel logistics are easier and can offer door-to-door delivery, which is impossible with air travel.

What’s an International Pet Shipping Cost Estimate?

So far we’ve discussed domestic pet shipping, but maybe you need to travel or even move abroad. You think about it and decide to go for it. You’re excited, but the logistics of international pet transport are a headache. Not only do you have to move your entire life to this new country, but you also have to figure out how to transport your pet internationally. International pet shipping costs will be substantially higher than domestic costs.

There are an abundance of airlines and most of them allow dogs and cats on their planes. Some airlines allow pets only in the cargo hold; some permit small pets in the main cabin. The in cabin costs are usually anywhere between $125 to $200. When going the cargo hold route, it usually will run around $1000. Each airline has its own pet policies with international pet shipping costs. Research these costs before traveling.

Because international pet transport is very popular, there are also licensed companies that offer these services. The international pet shipping costs for these companies run anywhere between $1000 to $6000.

One thing to take note about international pet transport is that there will be more documentation that you need to present in order to clear customs. Usually, health certificates and vaccinations should be completed and valid no more than ten days before travel. You should also have an import permit ready. The European Union has its own regulations that you should follow. The United States Department of State also has suggestions when it comes to international pet travel.

Important note: Have everything ready in a folder that you can present to immigration officials. This will avoid delays so you can be out of the airport more quickly.

How Much Does FedEx Pet Shipping Cost?

Being the bearer of bad news feels so crummy. But unfortunately FedEx does not handle pet shipping. The official FedEx terms and conditions prohibit live animals, including pets like cats, dogs, birds and hamsters. The only other alternative is that you have animals that aren’t pets, such as animals for a business, FedEx will certainly accept them.

What Option is there to Access Affordable Pet Shipping?

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. The shining sea is upon us. The light on top of the hill is near! Okay, enough of that. We have good news! CitizenShipper is the option where you can access affordable pet shipping. Yes, you heard right. Rated the #1 pet transporter in the nation, CitizenShipper has a lot of benefits. Drivers compete for your business which is one of the reasons why it can be affordable.

The Benefits and Advantages of CitizenShipper

Our platform offers so many advantages over traditional pet companies. Let’s take a quick look at them!

  • You get drivers who are screened, background-checked and USDA-registered drivers.
  • You can compare drivers’ quotes and bids and chat with drivers across our network before you book your trip.
  • You can discuss your transport details directly with the driver using our instant messaging system. The driver will also give you updates while on their journey.
  • You can save up to 60-70% in countless fees compared to traditional shipping services by using CitizenShipper.
  • You can do a “rideshare” where you can get a better price because drivers will take several pets along at the same time. This deal is amazing, but you can always opt for “solo rides, too!
  • You have the option of adding on some cool benefits like a VIP Service, a $1,000 Pet Protection Guarantee, Booking Assurance Guarantee, direct communication with the driver who provides updates and 24/7 TeleVet access through our partner FirstVet.

Bottom Line

The pet shipping process is just sometimes difficult to process. There are so many factors and variables that you end up pulling your hair out. The best part is you’re not alone. Reaching out to community groups on Facebook or Nextdoor can be helpful to find answers.

There will be someone out there that will point you in the right direction. After going through the research, it’s time to choose the pet travel option that’s best for you. You have to look at the pet shipping cost estimate and fees to ensure you get the best price.

There is an option that can save you money and save you stress. CitizenShipper is an affordable, hassle-free alternative! Our drivers understand your dog means the world to you so they’ll treat them with proper care throughout the entire journey.

Shipping your cat should be a wonderful experience; not something that will induce stress screams all over the house. When you trust drivers on CitizenShipper to transport your beloved dog, you will be able to focus on other important matters.

As the #1 pet transportation marketplace in the nation, CitizenShipper ensures you will save money, time and hassle. The drivers on our network are dedicated to you and could even save the day! So, come on, hop on that bandwagon and post your pet’s transport to get free quotes instantly!