Should You Ship Your Dog as Airline Cargo? What You Need To Know

Rochdi Rais Rochdi Rais · Updated July 19, 2023

Ensure Your Furry Friend's Comfort!

  • Fast and easy
  • Only pay when you book

Your dog’s safety and comfort during travel is a top priority. One common option for transporting your pet is shipping them as airline cargo. This article will discuss the various factors to consider when deciding whether shipping your dog as airline cargo is the right choice for you and your pet.

1. The Pros of Shipping Your Dog as Airline Cargo

Professional Handling and Care

Airlines that offer pet cargo services have trained professionals to handle and care for your dog during the journey. Knowing that your pet is in capable hands can provide peace of mind.

Temperature and Pressure Control

Cargo holds used for pet transportation are temperature and pressure-controlled, ensuring that your dog remains comfortable throughout the flight.

Larger Pets Can Travel

For pet owners with larger dogs that exceed the size and weight limits for in-cabin travel, shipping as cargo provides an opportunity for them to fly with their pets.

2. The Cons of Shipping Your Dog as Airline Cargo

Stressful for Pets

Being in a cargo hold can be a stressful experience for some dogs, especially if they have never been in such an environment before. It’s essential to weigh your dog’s comfort and stress levels when considering this option.


Shipping your dog as airline cargo can be expensive, with fees varying depending on the airline and the size and weight of your pet.

Limited Availability

Not all airlines offer pet cargo services, and some have restrictions on specific breeds or routes. Thorough research is crucial to ensure your pet can travel with your chosen airline.

3. Preparing Your Dog for Airline Cargo Travel

If you decide that shipping your dog as airline cargo is the best option, preparing them for the journey is essential. Acclimate your dog to their crate beforehand and ensure they have a comfortable, secure carrier that meets airline requirements. Ensure your pet has proper identification, and obtain a health certificate from your veterinarian.

For more information on how to fly with a dog, visit our detailed guide.

4. Alternative Pet Shipping Options

If you’re unsure about shipping your dog as airline cargo, consider alternative pet transportation methods, such as ground transportation or in-cabin pet travel. Services like CitizenShipper offer a personalized and flexible approach to pet shipping, connecting you with experienced and reliable drivers.

5. Tips for Choosing the Right Airline for Your Dog’s Cargo Travel

Selecting the right airline for your dog’s cargo travel is crucial in ensuring a safe and comfortable journey. Here are some tips to help you make the best choice:

Research Airline Policies

Each airline has different policies and restrictions when it comes to pet cargo travel. Carefully research the pet cargo policies of the airlines you’re considering, paying attention to breed, size, weight restrictions, and route limitations.

Consider Reputation and Experience

Choose an airline with a solid reputation and proven experience in handling pets as cargo. Look for reviews from other pet owners who have used the airline’s pet cargo services to get a sense of their satisfaction levels.

Compare Costs

The cost of shipping your dog as airline cargo can vary significantly between airlines. Be sure to compare the costs associated with each airline, taking into consideration any additional fees or charges that may apply.

Verify Carrier Requirements

Airlines have specific requirements for pet carriers used in cargo travel. Before booking, verify that your dog’s carrier meets the airline’s guidelines to avoid any issues at check-in.

Inquire About Temperature and Pressure Control

Ensure that the airline you choose has temperature, and pressure-controlled cargo holds for pets, which will help keep your dog comfortable during the flight.

Ask About Emergency Procedures

In the event of an emergency, it’s essential to know how the airline will handle your pet. Ask about their emergency procedures and how they will ensure your dog’s safety in such situations.

Frequently Asked Questions: Should You Ship Your Dog as Airline Cargo?

To provide further guidance, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions related to shipping your dog as airline cargo.

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.  

Conclusion: Should You Ship Your Dog as Airline Cargo?

Deciding whether to ship your dog as airline cargo depends on several factors, including your pet’s size, temperament, and available airline options. By weighing the pros and cons and exploring alternative pet shipping methods, you can make the best decision for your dog’s comfort and safety.