Pet Transport Cost Calculator: How Much Will it Cost to Ship My Pet?

Matt Matasci Matt Matasci · Updated: August 14, 2023 / Published: February 20, 2023

Planning for a big trip or a new move can be difficult, especially when arranging pet transport.  Finding a reliable pet transport cost calculator can help you determine your overall transport budget.  While costs vary between transport method, keep in mind additional costs from necessary veterinary certifications or travel crates can add to your overall cost. 

What Factors Determine Pet Transportation Cost?

While there is no “one size fits all” cost calculator for pet transportation, certain factors can influence your overall price. The type of animal, size, and overall destination can drastically change the total cost.  At CitizenShipper, we work to learn about your pet and travel needs to find the best transport solution for your needs.  

Breed and Size

Smaller cats and dogs tend to be cheaper to transport.  Many small cats and dogs can fly in the main cabin of an airplane, or fit under the seat for train travel.  Pet transporters tend to price small cats and dogs cheaper than large dogs. 

Pet Shipping with CitizenShipper

The one exception to this general rule is with puppies.  Although puppies are smaller, their overall care level is much higher compared to an adult dog.  Puppies are generally more expensive to transport with a pet transport service.

Certain breeds of snub-nosed dogs, called brachycephalic breeds, have difficulty traveling by air.  Changes in air pressure pose serious health problems for dog breeds like pit bulls, bulldogs, and pugs.  If you have a snub-nosed dog, ground transport may be your only safe option.


The overall distance traveled will have a major impact on total cost.  Transporting your pet through a domestic flight is often much cheaper than international flights.  Not only are customs and regulations easier to handle, but long layovers are rare and quarantine for entry isn’t usually necessary for domestic travel.  

For ground pet transport, cost is usually determined on a per mile basis.  Individual pet transporters with CitizenShipper will establish their own pricing in their bid for your specific trip.  While longer trips will be more expensive, shorter trips tend to have a higher cost per mile.  

Type of Pet Transportation

The type of pet transportation you choose will impact the overall pet shipping cost.  While air transport may be faster for cross country trips, it can often be more expensive.  Airtransport not only requires buying passage for your pet, but your pet will need someone to accompany them, particularly during long layovers.

Ground transportation tends to be more cost effective, even for longer cross country trips.  Pet transport services will drive to your new destination with your pet safely in their care.  Most pet transport services will give you an estimate for your journey based on the overall distant, age, breed, and size of your pet. 

Use dog transport to get reunited with your best friend!

What are the Different Options for Pet Transport and How Much Do They Cost? 

Transporting a pet to a new location takes a lot of thoughtful planning. You have a lot to think about between air and ground transportation. Comparing the price and feasibility of transporting your pet can help with your decision.  

Airline Cargo 

Transporting your pet in airline cargo may be the only option if you have a large pet.  Many airlines will only accept small cats and dogs in the main cabin, often forcing your decision if you have a large dog.  

Luckily, many airlines have very strict safety guidelines when it comes to putting your pet in the cargo hold.  Minimal space requirements help protect your pet during transit.  Further, many airlines maintain a comfortable temperature in the cargo hold keeping your pet safe even for long journeys.

The cost to ship your pet as airline cargo will vary depending on the specific airline you choose.  Keep in mind that space in the cargo hold should be reserved well ahead of time.  Many airlines have specific crate requirements for large dogs which can drastically increase the price.  For large dogs, expect to pay upwards of $500 to secure a space in cargo and purchase the needed crate.

Airline Cabin 

Several airlines will permit small cats and dogs to ride in the main cabin.  WHile all airlines operate differently, many main airlines will charge an additional $125 to allow your pet to ride as your “carry on”.  Traveling with your pet in the main cabin ensures your pet stays with you, and remains comfortable and calm.  

Keep in mind that most airlines have pet size restrictions.  If you have a medium or large dog, you may not be able to fly with your pet in the main cabin.  Further, you’ll need to ensure your pet has the proper crate or carrier that can safely fit under the seat in front of you.  

If you can’t fly with your pet, consider using an air nanny.  An experienced air nanny can accompany your pet in the main cabin.  Air nannies are great for cats and dogs, and are commonly used to transport newly purchased puppies.  Prices vary for air nanny services, depending on their experience and the size of your pet.  Keep in mind small puppies often require more care, and can cost more to transport.  

Ground Transport

Ground transport can take many forms and is often the most economical option for pet transport.  Amtrak is by far the cheapest option, costing only $25 to bring your pet on the train with you.  Unfortunately, Amtrak will only allow small cats and dogs to travel on the train.  The carrier for your pet must be able to fit under the seat in front of you.  

Using a pet transport service is an excellent choice to keep your pet safe.  Pet transport services are often the most affordable, safely bringing your pet from one location to another.  Services like Citizen Shipper allow you to post your transport needs for free.  Qualified, experienced pet transporters will then bid for your pet’s journey.  Most trips cost between $0.50 and $1.60 per mile, but the size and type of pet can change cost estimates.  Shorter trips tend to cost more than cross country pet transport costs based on cost per mile.  

How Much Does International Pet Transport Cost?

Transporting a pet internationally comes with additional challenges. Hiring a pet transportation service can help mitigate stress and confusion, allowing for a smooth journey.  Traveling internationally often comes with a new set of requirements and rules upon entering the country.

Depending on the country, you may be required to present additional veterinary certifications, negative parasite tests, or mandatory vaccinations.  You might also have to quarantine your pet in the new country, prior to being fully admitted.  Boarding your pet through quarantine can easily add hundreds of dollars to your transport budget.

Some countries require a mandatory quarantine period which could also incur additional costs.  Consider too that many international flights have long layovers.  You’ll need to have someone stay with your pet, or possibly board them short term at the airport until the next leg of the journey. 

A pet transport cost calculator can be a useful tool when planning to ship a dog.

Additional Pet Travel Costs 

Keep in mind arranging pet travel logistics could incur additional costs.  Preparing your pet with the right medical checks and the proper equipment to travel could increase your pet transport budget.

Vet Visit and Vaccinations

Many states will require your pet to have a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, abbreviated to a CVI.  This certificate is obtained by visiting your veterinary office within 30 days of your travel.  Your vet will ensure your pet has the necessary vaccinations and may test for certain parasites or infections.  


Required documentation will differ depending on your final destination.  While some states will require a CVI, others will require negative test results for common parasites.  If traveling internally, many European countries will require a pet passport or verified quarantine documentation.  Always be sure to check with your end state or country to verify necessary documentation for entry.  


It is essential to keep your pet safe and secure with any type of transport.  Whether using ground or air transport, you’ll need to have the correct crate.  Hard sided crates are great for ground transport, while soft-sided crates tend to work better for travel in the main cabin.  If you are using air transport, especially cargo shipping, be sure to check your airline’s crate requirements.

Customs and Quarantine 

The international pet shipping cost tends to increase exponentially compared to domestic destinations.  Traveling internationally with a pet often requires a mandatory quarantine period.  During quarantine, you’ll board your pet for a set amount of time.  Quarantine can help reduce or eliminate dangerous diseases or parasites being transferred to your arrival country.

Remember every country is different and has different documentation required for customs and quarantine.  Keep in mind that returning to the United States from abroad will also have certain required veterinary certifications.  

How Does Pet Transport with CitizenShipper Work? 

Pet transport has never been easier with customizable transport options with CitizenShipper.  The process is simple, and free to start.  Simply register with CitizenShipper and answer a few basic questions about your pet and the journey.  There is never a fee to post your inquiry with our team of experienced transport experts.

After you post your details, you’ll have access to countless drivers who can bid on your journey.  Prices will vary between drivers.  You’ll be able to read the drivers’ profiles and cover the details surrounding the trip.

CitizenShipper will charge a small fee, paid at the time of booking, based on the distance traveled.  From there, your individual driver will address payment options for the remaining trip. Because we let our pet transporters choose a payment option that works best for them, transactions may differ between transporters.   

Once you decide on a driver, your journey can begin.  Your driver will come to your location, pick up your pet, and meet you at your final destination.  You’ll have access to regular updates from your driver along the way, so you’ll never feel out of touch with your pet.  

Pet Transport Cost Calculator FAQs 

For many people, transporting a pet is a new experience, so it’s normal to have questions.  From international shipments to transporting a new puppy, we have answered some of your most frequently asked questions.  

What is the cheapest way to transport a pet?

Typically, ground transport is the cheapest way to transport a pet.  Longer trips using a transportation service, like CitizenShipper, typically average around $1.00 per mile.  Using a pet transportation service ensures your pet arrives in your new location safely, while minimizing stress and overall cost. 

How much does it cost to ship a pet internationally? 

While shipping your pet domestically is a relatively straightforward process, international shipping can be more complicated.  Hiring a pet transport service to help with international logistics can save a tremendous amount of stress and time.  

Each country of arrival will have specific regulations regarding pet health checks, necessary vaccination, and possible quarantine requirements.  The cost to ship a pet internationally can vary, especially if you need to board your pet for an extended quarantine. 

How much does it cost to transport cats?

The cost to transport cats will vary depending on the transport method.  Cats can be transported via ground or air transit, and are often small enough to be considered a “carry on” item.  Transporting a cat can cost as little as $25 on Amtrak, or as much as $125 to fly in the main cabin of an airplane.

How much does it cost to travel with a small pet?

Traveling with a small pet, compared to a large pet, is much cheaper.  Smaller pets can fit under the seat in front of you and can often qualify as a “carry on” item.  Traveling with small pets on Amtrak can cost $25, while airlines can charge around $125.  Keep in mind certain companies will only allow cats and dogs to travel.  

What does it cost to ship a puppy?

While puppies are small enough to fly in most airline cabins, they can incur additional costs.  Puppies generally require more attention, and therefore can be more expensive than shipping an adult dog or cat.  

Many breeders will utilize an air nanny service to accompany your puppy.  If the air nanny is experienced, or a regular, certain airlines may provide discounted rates or waive certain fees.  Breeders regularly ship puppies to their new homes and are well-versed in arranging transportation.