Types of Travel Pet Carriers: Which One Is Right For Your Pet?

Cagri Sarigoz Cagri Sarigoz · Updated January 16, 2024

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What kinds of car pet carriers are there? Well, there are dog carriers for the car, car carriers for birds, travel carriers for cats, etc.

In other words, there are carriers made for any type of pet that you currently have. What’s more is that these various pet carriers for the car all have different features that you and your pet can benefit from.

If all this is sounding overwhelmingly complicated, don’t worry. We’re about to make it much more simple in the following guide.

This guide teaches you all you need to know about choosing the right pet carrier. Read on to learn more.

Choosing Dog Carriers For the Car

Unlike cats and other pets, dogs vary greatly in size and behavior. As such, there’s a very large variety of dog carriers to choose from.

For that reason, we’ll start by exploring the different types of travel carriers for dogs and the pros and cons of each. We’ll also explain what factors to consider when making your choice. 

Cardboard Carriers

Cardboard dog carriers are meant as temporary, disposable carriers and are not intended for long-term use. They may be sufficient for very short trips, such as the initial trip home.

Still, we do not recommend these. They are flimsy enough that any dog who’s determined to do so can easily break out of them.

Hard Carriers

Hard dog carriers are what you want for the car. These are intended for long-term use so you can use them over and over again. They are generally made of plastic as metal gets too hot when it sits in the car.


As we just mentioned, most metal dog crates should not be used for transportation purposes. They are for home use only and will get too hot in the car during the warmer months.

Weather aside, dog crates just aren’t designed for safe pet transportation. If you have a car accident, for example, the metal can crush, scratch, or stab into your dog. Plastic carriers won’t do this.

However, there are some metal crates that are intended for transportation purposes. These will have features such as heat-resistant metal, like aluminum. Also, the metal is usually cast thick enough so that it won’t get bent or damaged in a car accident.

Soft Carriers

Soft carriers, like purse/tote bag carriers, are a good idea for transportation outside of a vehicle. But they are neither intended nor adequate for in-car transportation. Namely, they don’t restrain your dog well enough to keep him safe.

Choosing a Size

The general rule is to choose a carrier that’s large enough to allow your dog to get into any position easily. Your dog shouldn’t be cramped and unable to move around during a long car trip. This can injure your dog, especially if something startles the dog so that he jerks suddenly.

Thus, the carrier should be a couple of inches taller than the dog while he’s standing. And it should be long enough to allow your dog to fully stretch out. Lastly, make sure it’s wide enough to let your dog turn around.

Don’t Be Cheap

Never let the price be your main reason for choosing a dog carrier. You need to, first and foremost, make sure that the carrier has the right features and dimensions for your dog. Once, you do that, however, there’s nothing inherently wrong with choosing the cheaper of two comparable carriers.

Check Online Reviews

Speaking of comparable carriers, you may find two carriers with a seemingly identical set of features. But you really can’t tell the quality of a carrier just by looking.

There may be a quality/functionality issue that you couldn’t know about until you set it up and try it out for yourself. Then, by the time you do notice this issue, you’re in the middle of your vacation and, thus, unable to do anything about it. And when you get back, it will probably be too late to return the faulty carrier. 

Sadly, this is an extremely common problem with all types of vacation-related products. The manufacturers of such products are quite aware that most of their unsatisfied customers will be unable to return the defective product. In fact, they’re counting on it.

Thus, before you make your purchase, it helps to research user reviews of comparable products.

Check the Latch and Other Features

One of the main features to consider is the latch. Check what kind of latch it is and whether it will easily break. Aside from this, check the carrier’s list of features to make sure it’s fully equipped for your needs.

Check Durability

The second most common problem is a crate that falls apart easily. The best way to watch out for this is to read user reviews.

Remember Who You’re Buying For

Finally, you know your pet best. Think about the biggest problem your pet will have if he/she sits in a carrier for hours. Look for carrier features and additional solutions (accessories) to address these problems.

Choosing Cat Carriers For the Car 

For the most part, all the rules for choosing travel carriers for cats are the same as those for dog carriers. Typically, though, the size of cats and their carriers don’t vary that much.

However, if you have cats who get along well together, you can fit multiple cats in one large dog/cat carrier. Make sure the cats have a space large enough to let them move freely.

Choosing Travel Carriers For Birds/Reptiles

Again, the same rules apply when choosing car carriers for reptiles/birds. When transporting a bird in the car, consider covering the bird carrier with a dark yet breathable blanket/cloth. That way, the bird(s) will rest for the duration of the trip.

Reptiles need to be kept warm at all times, though. Make sure your reptile’s carrier has some sort of heating device if your car will be cold.

Remember These Tips When Choosing Pet Carriers For the Car

Whether you need cat, bird, reptile, or dog carriers for the car, we hope this guide helps you choose. 

If you’re looking for a travel carrier, we’re guessing you may also need to have a pet transported to you, or from one place to another without you accompanying it. If that’s the case for you, check out our safe and reliable pet transportation service. We’re more than happy to help you find the perfect trusted pet transporter for you and your pet!