What Factors Determine Pet Transport Cost?

Adaeze Nwakaeze Adaeze Nwakaeze · Updated February 23, 2024

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Moving your pet from one part of the country to another can feel like a major challenge. From booking flights to hiring ground transport for moving household items to making sure your pet has a safe journey, there are many things to consider. One thing that’s at the top of most pet owners mind is pet transport cost.

After all, pet shipping services can be expensive, and you want to ensure you get the best deal without compromising quality and safety. Our pets are family members and we want the best for them.

Whether you are looking to transport your pet for a vet visit, a new home, or a family vacation, a few factors can influence the cost of pet transport. To give you an idea of what to expect, we’ve outlined some of the most critical factors that determine pet transport costs, including types of pet transport and how to find the right service for you.

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Distance is a major factor in pet transport cost.

Pet Transportation Methods

There is never a shortage of ways to get your pet from point A to point B. Depending on your budget and comfort level, you can opt for air or ground travel. These are two great ways to transport your pet, each with unique benefits. 

#1. Air Transport:

Flying your pet to its destination is usually the fastest and most efficient way to travel.

Smaller pets, like dogs and cats, are typically placed underneath airplane seats, while larger animals, like horses and big dog breeds, have to fly in the cargo area.

With air transport, you’ll need to factor in the cost of a pet-friendly airline and travel crate. There may also be additional fees for your pet’s care and handling. Airlines like Delta, American and United all offer pet-friendly flights, and with as little as $125 and up, you can have your pet transported safely in the cabin.

#2. Ground Transport:

Ground transport is usually the next best alternative if flying isn’t an option. Ground transport involves a professional pet transporter using a vehicle to get your pet from one destination to another.

The cost of ground transport depends on your pet’s size, weight and the distance of the journey. This is usually charged per mile — between $0.5 to $1.60 for each mile.

Some ground transportation options you may want to consider include: 

Train Transport

Train transport is an alternative to air transportation and can be a great option for longer trips. However, the trip must not last beyond seven hours. 

Most train services like Amtrak accept only pets like dogs and cats that weigh 20 pounds or less as long as their pet carrier can fit under a train seat.

While traveling by train can be cheaper than airfare, it can also take longer. You’ll need to factor in arrival time, the cost of the pet crate, and the train transport cost before settling for this option.

Self Transport by Car

If you’re traveling a short distance, driving with your pet is probably the most cost-effective way to get it there. But for long trips, car transportation can be expensive and time-consuming.

Considering the cost of gas, lodging and other associated expenses, you can quickly rack up an expensive bill. And if you have multiple pets, it can be even more costly.

There are also concerns about your pet’s safety and comfort during a long car ride. You can see why many pet owners opt for professional transportation services.

It’s, however, important to note that driving your pet is not the safest way to travel, so you should consider other options if possible, which brings us to the next best option.

Pet Transport Services

These are individual transport companies that specialize in pet transportation. Usually, you can find these companies in your local area or online through an online marketplace like CitizenShipper.

Pet transport companies are typically equipped with temperature-controlled vans that can accommodate various pets and provide a safe, secure environment for your pet on its journey.

Depending on the size and weight of your pet, the distance and other requirements for the journey, you could end up paying quite a bit.

You can avoid this by using CitizenShipper. CitizenShipper is the #1 pet transportation platform in the United States that connects pet owners to professional and certified pet shipping services.

On CitizenShipper, you can find experienced pet transporters passionate about animal welfare, USDA-certified, and offer various pet shipping services.

The cost of pet shipping with CitizenShipper is usually cheaper than traditional services because you can directly compare bids from different transporters to find the most affordable option.

Plus, the platform has a $1,000 Pet Protection Plan, vetted drivers, a 24/7 messaging system and a partnership with FirstVet, which ensures access to quality veterinary care for your pet throughout its journey.

CitizenShipper offers the perfect balance between cost and quality for pet shipping. Little wonder the platform is trusted by over 100,000+ pet lovers and is the preferred choice for pet shipping in the United States.

What to Look For in a Pet Transporter

Here’s a list of the top qualities to look for in a pet transporter:

#1. Experience 

Look for a transporter who has years of experience in pet transport and is knowledgeable about its regulations. Read their profiles and reviews to get some insight into their experience level.

#2. Credentials

Make sure the transporter is licensed, insured and USDA-certified as required by the law.

#3. Communication 

Good communication is essential regarding pet transportation. They should be able to answer any questions you have about the process.

#4. Safety 

The transporter should have a good safety record and assurance that they will take good care of your pet during the journey.

#5. Competitive Costs

While cost should not be the only factor considered in pet transport, finding a transporter who offers competitive rates and gives you the best value for your money is still important. 

Be sure to get the total costs upfront, so you know exactly what you are paying for.

#6. Professionalism

Look for transporters with standard vehicles and equipment that can transport all pets, including exotic animals.

At the end of the day, what really matters is finding a pet transporter that meets your needs and fits into your budget. With CitizenShipper, you can easily compare bids and select the most reliable pet transport service.

Factors Affect Pet Transport Cost

Transporting your pet is not a decision you take lightly. And understanding the various factors that affect pet transport cost is essential in getting the best value for your money.

Although there is no one size fits all when it comes to pet transport cost, the total cost of the journey will depend on a variety of factors such as:


The distance to the destination is one of the main factors determining pet transport cost.

Transporters will usually factor in the time it will take to get to the destination and fuel costs. And since most companies charge by mileage, longer trips will cost more than shorter ones.

Size and Weight of the Pet

Airlines and transporters also base their pricing on the size and weight of the pet.

Smaller pets may be cheaper to transport than larger ones since they require smaller crates and less space.

Sometimes the cost of transporting your dog may differ significantly from the cost of transporting a cat or other pet. So be sure to ask your transporter for the exact rates for each. 

Type of Transportation

The type of transportation you choose also affects pet transport costs. Air travel tends to be more expensive than ground transportation, but it is often faster.

Rail and sea transport are usually cheaper than air transport. Still, they may take much longer to reach the final destination.

If you are considering using a ground transport option with a fair and moderate cost that won’t break the bank, CitizenShipper is the go-to solution.

Extra Services

Some pet owners may require additional services such as veterinary check-ups, food and grooming sessions.

These services may cost extra and should be factored into the total pet transport cost. Door-to-door delivery, assistance with paperwork and extra stopovers may also increase the price.

Type of Pet

Suppose you are transporting an exotic pet, such as a reptile, a primate, a bird, or a ferret. In that case, you may need to pay extra for special crates or cages and additional permits.

Depending on the nature of the pet, you may also need to pay for a professional handler.

Product Recommendations for Pet Transport

When transporting pets, it’s best to equip them with the necessary products to make the trip successful.

After getting a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) and getting updating your vaccination records, here are some products you should consider getting for your pet before the trip:

#1. Pet Carrier

A sturdy and comfortable pet carrier is essential in keeping the pet safe and secure during the journey. Make sure the carrier has enough room for your pet to move around, with plenty of ventilation.

#2. Pet Crates and Cages

For larger pets, pet crates and cages can provide a safe place to rest during the journey. Choose crates that are made from high-quality materials and are designed to provide maximum comfort for the pet.

#3. Harness or Leash

Most transportation methods require pets to be kept on a leash or harness. Ensure the leash is long enough for your pet to move around comfortably and secure the harness properly.

#4. Pet Food and Treats

Your pet needs food during the journey, so pack enough. Avoid switching pet food during the trip, as this may cause some disruption in your pet’s stomach.

If there are any specific treats your pet loves, include them in the package.

#5. Toys and Accessories

Toys and other accessories can help make the journey more bearable for your pet. Consider packing the pet’s favorite chew toy or blanket to provide comfort and distraction during the trip.

How CitizenShipper Helps You Lower Pet Transport Cost

CitizenShipper is a leading pet transport platform that helps you connect with reliable and experienced pet transporters.

Rated the #1 pet transportation platform in the US, CitizenShipper has a vast network of pet transporters across the country ready to bid on your transport request. 

Here is how to get started:

#1. Create a Profile

Go to CitizenShipper’s website and create a profile. It’s free to join; you only need to input basic information about yourself to start.

#2. Submit Transport Request

To submit a transport request, you need to provide details about the type of pet you’re transporting, your starting and ending location, departure date and any other requirements you may have for the pet transporter.

Be as detailed as possible when inputting your pet’s breed, size and weight so the potential pet transporters get a better idea of what they’ll be dealing with.

#3. Get Bids from Top-Rated Pet Transporters

Once you finish entering your pet transport needs, you’ll start getting bids from top-rated pet transporters. Expect to get various pet transport quotes from multiple transporters in as little as 10 minutes.

#4. Compare and Review Bids

All your bids will come from experienced and reliable pet transporters. You can compare and review the bids, read reviews about each transporter, check out their profile intro and then pick one that best suits your needs.

CitizenShipper allows you to view each bid’s details, such as additional fees and restrictions, before committing to a particular transporter.

#5. Select Your Favorite Driver

Once you’ve found a driver you like, open up communication to ensure they understand your pet’s specific needs. Exchange messages or chat through CitizenShipper’s messaging system and finalize the deal.


Transport costs can be essential in pet transportation, but remember that safety and comfort come first.

Contrary to public belief, you don’t have to break the bank to transport your pet. CitizenShipper provides an easy and cost-effective way of finding reliable pet transporters at competitive prices.

Whether you are a pet owner or breeder looking to save money on pet transport, CitizenShipper can help you find the best deal.

So what are you waiting for? Post your pet transport listing on CitizenShipper for free and get a quote within minutes!

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