How to Get an Accurate Pet Shipping Cost Estimate

Patrick MacFarland Patrick MacFarland · Updated June 20, 2023

Pet transportation is in popular demand now that it’s easy to do with various companies online competing for your business. There are many modes of pet travel — from train travel, going on flights, hiring air nannies, doing ground transport, or driving yourself. Because there are so many options available online, it can get overwhelming. Sometimes the best way to eliminate the many options is to cross-reference them to get an accurate pet shipping cost estimate.

You need an estimate to see which ones you will want to cross off the list. But with nineteen tabs open, it can get pretty overwhelming and stressful. The best pet shipping option should combine quality service, reasonable cost and other factors. So we’ll outline the various approaches to pet transportation, as well as some cost estimates to each one so you can make the best decision. 

Approaches to Pet Transportation

There are many ways for transporting a pet. They include air travel, train travel, hiring a traditional transporter, driving yourself (or flying yourself) and using a marketplace. Let’s take a look at each of these options.

Pet Shipping with CitizenShipper

Air Travel

Air travel can be the fastest way to transport a pet. There are several requirements to keep in mind. Only cats and dogs are allowed — and there are several restrictions based on breed (like snub-nose cats and dogs). If your pet is small, it can fit under the seat in front of you with an airline-approved carrier. Airline policy allows only one pet per passenger and two pets per flight. For longer flights where your pet may need more room, they’ll have to go in the cargo hold

You can also hire an air nanny, a professional person who flies with your pet to its final destination. The pet can go in the cabin or cargo hold, and the air nanny will take care of all of the logistics of the process.

Train Travel

Train travel is an option that is easy and convenient. Amtrak allows pet transportation, but it is limited only to cats and dogs. 

Here are the requirements for train travel:

  • Only one pet per passenger.
  • The trip cannot last more than seven hours.
  • Your pet must be more than eight weeks old.
  • Your pet must be under your seat at all times inside a carrier.
  • Your pet must be 20 pounds or less.

Car Travel

This approach to pet travel is the easiest because you would be driving your pet to your final destination, which means all you need is the documentation needed to register your pet in the state of arrival. Car travel can be stressful, since there are a lot of logistics that go into planning the trip..

There are several variables to keep in mind including gas, accommodation and food, as well as the bathroom and snack stops you should take. Pets also need breaks for going to the bathroom and to ease their anxiety. Car rides can be stressful for your pet and you should take the necessary precautions to make the car more comfortable. Providing them with some security toy or blanket is a smart idea.

Traditional Transporter

A traditional transport service is another option that is quite popular. You can find the website of hundreds of companies online and they each provide different types of pet travel services. There are a variety of factors that determine the costs. There are also breed or exotic pet requirements or prohibitions.

Make sure you look out for fake shipping companies. Some companies entice you with cheap prices. It’s smart to look at the warning signs when doing your diligent research.

Consider the price of a carrier in your pet shipping cost estimate.

Using a Marketplace

Another option is using a two-way marketplace (like CitizenShipper). You can post your pet’s transport information on their website and see free quotes, which can be considerably cheaper and more reliable than a traditional transporter or other travel option.

What to Look For in a Pet Transporter

You need to make sure you pick the right pet transporter. Although finding an affordable option is attractive, one that strives for excellent customer service can be better overall.

  1. Always check what types of pets they take and the cost for each pet. Some transport services may not allow certain breeds or exotic pets.
  2. Ensure the animal handler will always be with them and there aren’t other pets in the transportation device (if it’s a ground service).
  3. Make sure all pet transport services adhere to the USDA’s rules and regulations in pet handling. You should also go to IPATA to see any informative articles about recommended pet transporters, fake scamming companies and more.
  4. If pet transport companies offer door-to-door delivery, take the option. It will relieve stress in dropping off and picking up your pet.
  5. Communication is the key for your pet’s safety and your peace of mind. If the pet transport company provides regular updates, that is an excellent sign.
  6. Excellent customer service is essential. It provides you with the comfort that your pet will be treated with care. Pay attention to how they go about their customer service duties.

How Can I Get a Pet Shipping Cost Estimate?

We come to the money part now. The question swirling around in your head may include: how much will it cost me? Let’s take a look at each approach with the cost estimate. Remember, these are estimates and are subject to change.

Train Travel


$25 pet fee + Train ticket

Train travel has the cheapest pet fee, but it’s limited to small dogs and cats.

Air Travel


In cabin: $125 pet fee + $50 carrier = $175 + Plane ticket

In cargo hold: $500+ pet fee* + $200 carrier = $700 + Plane ticket

*Final fee determined by airline after booking

Air Nanny

If you want to hire an air nanny service, the above prices are the same, but you will have to pay for the air nanny’s roundtrip ticket and their charges and fees, as well (which could be around $200+).

Car travel


Variables include: gas, accommodation, food and snacks.

Short distance: $300-$500

Long distance: $1,500-$1,700


The cost estimates are based on:

*Using a 12-tank car (total = $47 per tank) and filling up every 400-500 miles.
*Driving eight hours per day.
*Eating three meals per day for two people.

Traditional transporter


Short distance: $100-$300

Long distance: $400-$600

Variables include: distance, pet size/breed/type, equipment needed, and health documentation needed.

Product Recommendations for Pet Shipping

Pet shipping is hard work. You have to prepare a ton of things in order for it to go smoothly. Whatever method you choose, you need a core list of items that will make that journey for your pet as stress-free as possible. 

What products stand out and are suitable for your pet transport process? Let’s tlook at some essential must-haves that can come in handy.

For Cats and Dogs

Calming Pheromone Spray for Cats

  • It’s a formula spray that can calm your cat in any high-stress situation.
  • It’s safe to use and will prevent your cat from clawing back, peeing and being stressed.
  • Reduces stress effectively within seven days.

Airline-Approved Pet Travel Bag

  • It’s durable and safe, as well as water repellent.
  • It’s multi-functional with lots of storage, which is essential for travel.
  • It can conveniently carry food, water, leashes and other essential items for your pets.

Native Pet Calming Chews for Dogs

  • They are veterinarian recommended for travel or other anxiety-prone events.
  • They help calm your dog but also work well as a sleeping aid for those restless pups.
  • Safe for dogs to chew and eat.

Prutapet Large Cat Carrier for Car Traveling with Collapsible Litter Box and Bowl

  • The carrier is easy to store and folded for storage in a small place.
  • It’s a perfect carrier that has the essentials for travel — including a litter box and water/food bowl.
  • Good ventilation on all sides that will ensure the safety of your cat.

For Other Pets

Travel Carrier Cage for Parrots

  • Weighing just 13 pounds, this cage is lightweight and portable.
  • Sturdy and long-lasting, which is great for all travels.
  • Easy to assemble, making it suitable for pet transportation.

Exotic Nutrition Hedgehog Home and Starter Package

  • Contains a cage, wheel and hedgehog food.
  • The food is nutritious and safe to eat
  • The cafe is easy to clean and durable, which can last for a lifetime.

Reptile Wooden Terrarium

  • The terrarium is perfect for all types of reptiles and amphibians.
  • It has a front sliding door, but also a retractable roof that is easily accessible.
  • The installation of the terrarium is easy and convenient.
Take the stress out of pet transport with an accurate pet shipping cost estimate.

How CitizenShipper Helps You Get a Better Pet Shipping Cost Estimate

There are many modes of pet transport. And the costs vary for each one, depending on your final destination and the size, breed, or type of pet you have. Maybe you’re leaning toward one option more than another. After looking at all the options, consider listing a shipment on CitizenShipper’s pet transport marketplace! Our platform offers many advantages over traditional pet transporters, and it’s the #1 pet transportation platform in the nation!

So how does it work, you ask? It’s pretty simple. Just follow these steps:

  • Post a listing on our site. Once that happens, background-checked and USDA-registered drivers will send you quotes. The number of quotes you receive depends on the time of the year and your location, but most pet transport listings receive bids within minutes.
  • You can then compare bids and chat with several drivers across our network. Once you choose the driver you like the best, you’re ready to book your trip.
  • We charge a modest fee, which will vary per mileage and accounts for our vetting process

We pride ourselves in making pet shipping run the way it should — safe, seamless, and stress-free. We want your beloved pet to be in good hands with the drivers on CitizenShipper. And to make things even safer for you, we have air nannies on our marketplace, which can make things a lot easier and affordable for flying with a dog or cat.

Because drivers compete for your business, you can save up to 60-70% compared to traditional shipping companies! That’s a lot of dough, but that’s not all we offer. CitizenShipper also provides added benefits for you, so you’re even calmer — up to $1,000 Pet Protection, Booking Assurance Guarantee, direct communication with the driver who provides updates and 24/7 TeleVet access through our partner FirstVet.

The Bottom Line

The pet transportation process is a multi-step process. It takes time and energy from your busy schedule to get the right company that will treat your pet like one of their own. There are many options to choose from or you can even drive yourself to the final destination. The reality of the matter is it’s hard work.

Suppose you don’t want to deal with all the hoopla and want something affordable, safe, and convenient. In that case, the alternative is going through CitizenShipper’s marketplace. It’s truly secure, and drivers on CitizenShipper understand your pet means everything to you. They will ensure proper, loving care during the journey, whether it’s a long one or a short one. When you trust drivers on CitizenShipper, you will have the comfort that your cherished pet, whatever it may be, will be in the best of hands.

We take pride in being the #1 pet transport platform and we want to deliver and ensure the process is as stress-free as possible for you. The last thing we want is for you to be overwhelmed!. 

Creating a listing on CitizenShipper is easy and only takes a few minutes. Plug in your pet’s transport info right now and get free quotes in a jiffy!

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