Feb 04, 2024
10 Best Pet Carriers of 2023, According to Dog and Cat Owners
Our editors handpick the products that we feature. We may earn commission from the links on this page. Because your fur baby deserves the crème de la crème. Planning to take your furry friend with you
Our editors handpick the products that we feature. We may earn commission from the links on this page.
Because your fur baby deserves the crème de la crème.
Planning to take your furry friend with you on your next vacation? Don't forget to add one of the best pet carriers to your list of travel essentials. These are key for keeping your pet comfortable and safe during any journey. Plus, the best kinds can fit right underneath the seat in front of you when you’re flying.
When shopping, it's important to “select the version that suits your pet's size, temperament, and travel needs," advises Zay Satchu, DVM, chief veterinary officer and cofounder of Bond Vet. Similar to traditional luggage, pet carriers come in both soft and hard-sided options. "Often made of flexible nylon, soft pet carriers are ideal for smaller pets and offer a cozy, nest-like environment," says Satchu. "On the other hand, hard-sided plastic carriers provide extra protection and are ideal for larger or more active pets," she says.
No matter which style you choose, however, your pet should "always have enough space to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably," Satchu advises.
And to help ensure the most fuss-free adventure possible, make sure to give your pet ample time to adjust to the carrier before embarking. “Patience and positive reinforcement are key to turning the carrier into a cozy den that your pet will love,” she adds. So you can check one more thing off your to-do list, we found the 10 best pet carriers pet owners recommend. With handy features like smooth wheels and extra storage pouches, they'll make traveling with your furball way less stressful and far more seamless.
Dog moms, this one's for you. Max Bone's All-In-One Travel Carrier certainly lives up to its name. It has memory foam bedding and breathable mesh sides to keep your pup super comfortable. Plus, it features multiple storage pouches, a front rubber waste-bag dispenser, and special latches that can fasten to a car seat belt. Thanks to its versatile straps, you can also carry it by the handles or as a crossbody bag or backpack.
Customer Review: "My doggy loves it! It is gorgeous and functional too!"
Oprah loves Paravel's high-quality bags, including its styles designed for furry friends! Just like the brand's fan-favorite totes, this chic pet carrier is monogrammable and sustainably made of upcycled water bottles. Even more reason to buy? Every purchase of these carriers will help cover medical and transportation costs for pups at Rescue City, a dog rescue based in Brooklyn, New York.
Customer Review: "My dog is not a huge fan of carriers, but he is warming up to this one. I appreciate the two different opening options."
Amazon customers are raving about this sturdy hard-sided carrier, featuring over 46,000 four and five-star reviews. The ventilated, plastic kennel has a steel wire door with a spring-loaded latch for easy access, but it can also open from the top, too.
Customer Review: "The screws are a little hard to put in. The clips work fine, but you need the screws to be airline- approved. I like the top opening, which is hard to find in a little crate like this. Very well-made. Very pleased with it!"
This backpack will help you go completely hands-free when traveling with your furry friend. Featuring wide, dual-side openings, getting your pet in and out of this bag will be a breeze. It's even equipped with a mesh peek-a-boo pocket so your furball can take in all the action.
Customer Review: "Wonderful carrier. The opening is large and it’s so much easier to get my cat inside than his old carrier. It’s comfortable and stylish. Great purchase."
For those quick errand runs, pop your cat or dog into this stylish carrier. While it has an open design, the sleek leather tote comes with a leash attachment to keep your pet secure.
Customer Review: "Ivy Rose absolutely loves trekking through the city in her stylish blush carrier. The leather is high-quality and durable with a roomy interior to fit a few toys and a blanket if needed. Definitely worth the purchase for pups on the go!"
This spacious pet carrier includes sturdy rubber wheels that easily glide on surfaces. What's more, it has a built-in fan and internal cushion to help keep Fido cool and comfortable.
Customer Review: "This pet carrier is far superior to other pet carriers I have used over the years. It’s very spacious, contains a soft pillow for the animal to relax on, and even a rechargeable LED light. The big window is great so your pet can see outside and not feel claustrophobic. The wheels roll smoothly on the ground, so you don’t need to carry it for long distances."
A classic soft-sided option, this travel carrier is small enough for airline travel and secure enough for road trips thanks to its seat belt clips and buckle strap feature. It also comes with a plush bed so your pet can catch some z's and a pee pad in case of any accidents.
Customer Review: "The quality is amazing and it's beautifully designed. Everything in this bag was well thought out and you can tell it’s built to last."
Aside from featuring a main compartment that transforms into a travel mat, this multipurpose pet carrier also comes with a shoulder strap that can double as a dog leash. The carrier also includes ventilated mesh walls and several pockets for added comfort and storage.
Customer Review: "This carrier is amazing. My dog is comfortable, secure, and able to sleep through multiple-hour flights. I also love that it has multiple pockets, so I can put my phone and other items (leash, dog food) under the seat with me."
Ensure your pet stays calm, cool, and collected with this bubble carrier. It has vents all around and an included electric fan to prevent your cat or small dog from overheating. Not to mention, there's a hidden food bowl attached for easy feeding.
Customer Review: "Great carrier. It's lightweight. My cat was no more unhappy than when in her usual carrier. The added food bowl was nice, as having some treats and the fan going made her fall asleep on our drive."
After a long day of travel, all we can think about is kicking back and relaxing. We love this carrier for that very reason: It has an expandable feature on the front and back that enables pets to lay down or stand up and stretch. Also, the wheels are detachable!
Customer Review: "I love this carrier! I needed something that would slide under an airplane seat with a height of about nine inches. This fit perfectly. My puppy could see me through it. The carrier separates from the wheels, which made it convenient to put the wheels in the overhead bin. And when I got to my destination, I opened up the 'wings' on either side for sleeping. Love it!"
Across all major airlines, your pet carrier will need to fit under the seat in front of you. Typically, the carrier will count as your carry-on (note: It'll be helpful if it has storage pouches for quick access to any essentials!). While specific size restrictions vary by airline, most require pet carriers to measure around 18" x 11" x 11" or less.
After purchasing your carrier, leave it accessible for your pet to explore at home. This will allow them to get acquainted with the travel piece so you have an easier time convincing them to go inside when the trip arrives. You can even give them an extra push by putting treats or their favorite toys inside. "Gradually, encourage your pet to spend time in the carrier with the door open," says Satchu. "Associate positive experiences with the carrier, like feeding meals inside or giving them treats and praise when they voluntarily enter."
Keeping your pet in the carrier for a couple of hours at a time is usually manageable, says Satchu. "However, it's crucial to take breaks to let them stretch their legs, hydrate, and relieve themselves," she adds.
Once your pet is all comfy in their carrier, make sure you add in a few essentials. Satchu recommends food and water bowls (collapsible ones if possible), a leash and collar or harness, necessary medications, dog waste bags, and cozy bedding. "You might also want to throw in a few of their favorite toys or a comforting item with your scent on it to provide them with some extra familiarity," she says.
Nashia Baker is a commerce editor at Hearst covering the latest and greatest products across the home and lifestyle categories. Throughout her career, she has interviewed countless veterinarians and pet experts to learn about the best products for cats and dogs.
For this story, she scoured the internet for pet carriers with glowing customer reviews. She assessed carriers with the best online ratings for factors like reported comfort and durability. Additionally, she tapped a veterinarian for what to look for in the best pet carriers and tips on how to ensure animals' comfort and safety while en route.
Nashia Baker is a commerce editor at Hearst Magazines; she covers all things home and lifestyle across brands such as Oprah Daily, Cosmopolitan, Delish, and Esquire. Before joining Hearst, she highlighted small business owners, creatives, and the best shoppable content.
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