The Best Pet Transportation Services of 2022

When traveling or moving, make sure your pet is safe and under as little stress as possible by enlisting the help of one of the best pet transportation services.

By Tony Carrick | Published May 5, 2022 9:37 AM

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The Best Pet Transportation Services Options

Photo: istockphoto.com

Whether traveling for vacation or relocation, safely getting a pet from point A to point B can be a challenge. While some pet owners can pay a small fee to have their dog or cat travel in the airplane’s cabin with them, that’s not always an option.

Luckily, there are pet transportation services that specialize in safely transporting dogs, cats, and even reptiles and other exotic pets across the state or country or even into other countries. These services will prepare pets for air travel or transport them via ground, monitoring them through the journey to ensure they’re safe and happy. Some services even have pet nannies to travel with a pet in the plane’s cabin or personal drivers to chauffeur them cross-country.

Since not all pet relocation services are aboveboard, vetting a service that will be in charge of a pet’s welfare is crucial. Read on to learn about what qualities one should look for in a reputable service, and find out why the companies below are some of the best pet transportation services for moving and travel.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Airpets International
  2. RUNNER-UP: Starwood Animal Transport
  3. BEST FOR GROUND TRANSPORT: Royal Paws Pet Transportation
  4. ALSO CONSIDER: Blue Collar Pet Transport
The Best Pet Transportation Services Options

Photo: istockphoto.com

What to Consider When Choosing One of the Best Pet Transportation Services

There are numerous factors pet owners should consider when shopping for a pet transportation service, including the type of transportation, USDA certification, and breed restrictions. Read on to learn more about these and other vital attributes of animal transport services.

Type of Pet Transported and Breed Restrictions

Since pet transportation services vary in the type and breed of pets they’ll transport, the first step to choosing one is checking its restrictions. While most services will transport cats and dogs, not all companies will transport other types of pets. As for dogs, some pet moving services won’t agree to transport certain breeds. Airline restrictions often dictate these restrictions as opposed to the service itself. For example, most airlines will not transport any flat-faced dog breeds due to concerns that the dog may have difficulty breathing while in flight. With this in mind, customers should first determine if a service will transport their type of pet.

Type of Transportation

Pet transportation services offer ground and air transportation options. Those that offer air transportation will help the owner coordinate logistics with airlines, ensure the pet has the proper travel documentation, transport the pet to the airport, and monitor the pet through its journey. While some companies will assign an experienced animal handler to ride with the pet in the plane cabin for a higher fee, other services will even charter a private plane to take a pet from point A to point B for those who can afford it.

Ground transportation services transport pets in a van, typically with other pets. The best pet ground transportation services will transport a pet in a van by itself with one or two animal handlers. Some companies even offer to transport a pet in the owner’s vehicle, making them an excellent option for those who need to transport both a pet and a car to a new location.

International Transport

Some pet transport services offer animal transportation worldwide. A good international pet transportation service should be knowledgeable in the rules and regulations for transporting pets to different countries. Many countries require pets to meet certain health requirements to enter the country, so international pet transportation services should also be able to help pet owners collect any necessary health documentation required. Once the pet is in transit, the service should have contingency plans in the event of any flight delays or cancellations. A good international service will also shepherd the pet through the arrival process by providing the necessary documentation for customs.

USDA Certification

Every pet transport service should adhere to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Welfare Act, which dictates standards for how animals should be treated and cared for while in transportation. Customers can verify this certification on the pet transportation company’s website or by asking.

Pet Nanny Services

Pet owners who don’t like the idea of their pet traveling in a plane’s cargo hold can also choose to use a pet nanny service. The customer can pay someone from the service to ride with their pet in the plane’s cabin. Due to airline restrictions, only cats or dogs that are under 20 pounds (including the weight of their carrier) are allowed in the cabin. Of course, this personalized service also costs significantly more than a standard animal transport service.

Door-to-Door Delivery

Pet transportation companies offer different levels of service when it comes to receiving a customer’s pet. Some services offer door-to-door delivery: The company will pick up the pet at the homeowner’s residence and deliver the pet to its final destination, be it a hotel or other residence. Other services require the customer to drop off and pick up the pet at the airport. Services that offer door-to-door delivery are usually more expensive than those that complete drop-offs and pickups at the airport.

Grooming and Boarding

Some pet transportation services include grooming and boarding options with their services. A service may be able to groom the pet following its journey before delivering the pet to its owner. Other services have facilities that allow them to board pets during layovers or if there are delays, so pets don’t have to spend an extended amount of time in their crate.

Pet Travel Updates

Some pet transport services will not only provide information regarding where the pet is and how the pet is handling the journey; they’ll also update a customer regarding their pet’s location and status during the relocation process. The type of travel updates pet owners receive varies from service to service. Some services allow the owner to track the pet in real-time via GPS or contact the pet’s assigned animal handler directly to get updates.

Customer Support

A reputable pet transportation service should have customer support that is available for the pet’s owner through the travel process. During the trip, customer support should be available to communicate any issues that may arise, including unexpected delays or potential health problems the pet may experience. Customer support should also be readily available for any questions the pet owner might have before and during the trip. If the company offers tracking, the service should help the client set up that feature and be available should the customer have any problems using it.

Our Top Picks

The pet transportation services below are USDA certified and offer comprehensive transportation services focused on making sure a customer’s pet travels safely with a minimum amount of stress to both animal and owner.

Best Overall

Photo: airpetsinternational.com

Why It Made the Cut: With its experienced animal handlers, grooming and boarding services, and roomy crates, Airpets International is a standout choice for transporting cats, dogs, lizards, guinea pigs, and other exotic pets.

Airpets International checks all the boxes for the features a standout pet transportation service should provide. This service, which offers ground and air transportation options, employs trained and experienced animal handlers, so pet owners can rest assured that Airpets has high pet care and safety standards. Airpets International offers various crate sizes, including modified and custom options, so pets of all sizes get a roomy and comfortable crate. Airpets can transport more than just cats and dogs; the company will also transport lizards, snakes, rabbits, guinea pigs, sugar gliders, and more. If Airpets doesn’t list a pet’s species on its website, customers can reach out directly and ask about transportation options.

Grooming services are available if a pet needs to look its best before reuniting with its owner. And, should delays or layovers interrupt the relocation, Airpets offers temperature-controlled overnight boarding for pets. And while Airpets International is one of the more expensive pet transportation services, the company does provide a detailed quote form. Customers will know exactly what’s behind the total price, and surprise fees won’t blindside them.

Specs

  • Type of pet transported: Cat, dog, bearded dragon, guinea pig, iguana, gecko, snake, rabbit, sugar glider, additional animals upon request
  • Type of transportation: Air, ground
  • International transport: Yes
  • Pet nanny services: Yes

Pros

  • Grooming and boarding services offered
  • Many types of pets transported
  • Employees with professional animal handling expertise
  • Custom and modified crate sizes
  • Comprehensive quote form for accurate pricing

Cons

  • Prices may be relatively high

Runner-Up

The Best Pet Transportation Services Option: Starwood Animal Transport
Photo: starwoodanimaltransport.com

Why It Made the Cut: Starwood offers customizable pet moving packages so owners can get the right amount of comfort and security their pets need.

Starwood Animal Transport packages its services into three separate tiers: economy, business, and premium. These plans allow customers to customize the level of service to meet their budget requirements. The premium package includes a pre-travel check-up by a vet and Starwood’s Pet Protection Plan, which covers the cost of any medical treatment or boarding costs the pet may require during travel due to unforeseen circumstances. Customers can also add the Pet Protection Plan to the economy or business packages.

Starwood offers ground transportation through a partner company, but it’s unclear whether ground transport is available door-to-door. Customers interested in ground transport should reach out to a customer service representative before or during the quote process, but Starwood partners with a separate company that provides this service. Since Starwood does not offer details regarding who it partners with or how the ground transportation service works, customers interested in this service should inquire about it before committing. Starwood specializes in international travel and maintains a database of pet travel requirements for a multitude of countries. Customers can use these resources to prepare for their pet’s trip.

Specs

  • Type of pet transported: Cat, dog, additional animals upon request
  • Type of transportation: Air, ground
  • International transport: Yes
  • Pet nanny services: Yes

Pros

  • Customizable moving plans
  • Pet protection plans available
  • Boarding services offered
  • Online pet travel guides for individual countries

Cons

  • Unclear service terms around ground transportation

Best for Ground Transport

The Best Pet Transportation Services Option: Royal Paws Pet Transportation
Photo: royalpaws.com

Why It Made the Cut: Royal Paws transports pets individually without using crates, making it one of the least stressful ways for pets to travel by ground.

Royal Paws is a top-notch ground transportation option for pets. Royal Paws aims to make the transportation process as stress-free as possible for animals. Rather than traveling in a crate with other animals, each pet travels individually or with other pets from the same family in a van. Pets don’t have to travel in a crate, and they can have their own blankets and toys to make the journey comfortable. Royal Paws provides one driver for cats and two for dogs. The company can even use the owner’s car to transport the pet for an additional fee, making Royal Paws an excellent option for pet owners who may need to transport a vehicle to a destination. Royal Paws does not update the owner directly during the journey, though owners can opt to have drivers post public updates on its Facebook page. Royal Paws drivers will drive continuously to make sure pets get to their destination as quickly as possible.

Specs

  • Type of pet transported: Cat, dog, additional animals upon request
  • Type of transportation: Ground
  • International transport: Contiguous U.S.
  • Pet nanny services: N/A

Pros

  • Crate-free travel with pet’s personal items
  • Pets travel independently or only with other pets from the same family
  • Pet owner vehicle transportation available

Cons

  • No direct updates from handler to owner

Also Consider

The Best Pet Transportation Services Option: Blue Collar Pet Transport
Photo: bluecollarpettransport.com

Why It Made the Cut: Blue Collar offers plenty of pet transportation options, from vans to private jets, to meet any pet owner’s needs.

Some dogs, like flat-faced dogs or so-called bully breeds, won’t be able to travel with every pet transportation service. That’s not the case with Blue Collar Pet Transport, which clearly states that it does not have any restrictions on the breeds it will transport. Blue Collar also provides owners with plenty of options to transport their pets, but owners may have to wait longer for their pets due to Blue Collar’s scheduling and routing processes. For ground transport, customers can choose between shared or private van options. Cargo shipping and pet nanny services are available for air travel, and Blue Collar will even transport pets via private jet.

Specs

  • Type of pet transported: Cat, dog, additional animals upon request
  • Type of transportation: Air, ground
  • International transport: Contiguous U.S. and Canada
  • Pet nanny services: Yes

Pros

  • Shared van, private van, air, and private jet transportation options
  • No dog breed restrictions

Cons

  • Transport times can be relatively long

Our Verdict

With a staff that consists of trained animal handlers, along with transparent pricing and additional services including grooming and boarding, Airpets International is the best all-around pet transportation service for pet owners. Pet owners looking to transport their pets overseas should consider Starwood Animal Transport, which specializes in international travel.

How We Chose the Best Pet Transportation Services

Using a second party to transport a pet can be an anxiety-producing process for both pet and owner. With that in mind, we chose pet transportation services that would ease that anxiety. First and foremost, we only chose services with USDA certification, ensuring the pet service follows best practices when transporting pets. We also looked for services with features that keep the owner in the know by providing tracking options and updates during the trip. A good pet transportation service should offer various options for transportation and accommodations, so we chose companies that would be able to meet different demands and budgets.

Before You Use One of the Best Pet Transportation Services

It’s imperative that pet owners understand that while there are reputable companies in this business, there are also many disreputable ones. With that in mind, it’s crucial to search for a company with a USDA certification, which ensures the service will use best practices when transporting a pet. A reputable pet transportation service typically does not advertise on online marketplaces such as Craigslist or Facebook. Services that require customers to pay them via Venmo, Zelle, or Western Union should also raise red flags with pet owners. Before hiring a service, pet owners should conduct due diligence by reading testimonials and online reviews. Pet owners should also ask a lot of questions regarding how the pet will travel and how they’ll receive updates during the journey.

Cost of Using One of the Best Pet Transportation Services

Pet transport services vary significantly based on distance and the type of transportation. Transporting a pet to a nearby location may cost as little as $100, whereas long-distance pet transport or shipping a pet to an international location can cost thousands of dollars. In addition to distance, pet size is also a factor in cost. Transporting a golden retriever that weighs more than 60 pounds will cost more than shipping a Chihuahua. Additional services, such as door-to-door pickup and drop-off, overnight boarding services, insurance, and veterinary care, can all add to the cost of a pet transportation service. Pet owners can expect to pay between $700 and $10,000 depending on the type of transportation, distance, pet size, and extra services.

The Advantages of Using One of the Best Pet Transportation Services

There are several reasons pet owners should consider a reputable pet transportation service. The best pet transportation services go beyond getting a pet from point A to point B; they prioritize a pet’s safety and well-being by providing personalized care while tailoring their services to make the pet’s experience as stress-free as possible. A good pet transportation service also gives the owner peace of mind by being transparent about the transportation process and providing status updates while the pet is in transit. By using a USDA-certified pet transportation service, pet owners can rest assured that the company follows a set of standards designed to keep their pets safe.

  • Pet receives personalized one-on-one care.
  • The service is tailored to make the journey as stress-free for pets as possible.
  • Owners get peace of mind while their pet is in transit.
  • USDA certifications ensure pet welfare standards are met.

FAQs

While we’ve covered a lot of information about transporting pets, you may still have some lingering questions. Here are the answers to some of the most pressing questions pet owners have about pet transportation.

Q. How do I transport my pet long-distance?

You have a few options when transporting your dog over distances too far to drive. Many airlines will allow pet owners to take their small pets in the cabin. Generally, the carrier will have to fit underneath the airplane seat. It’s also possible for a pet to travel in a plane’s cargo hold. The pet won’t be sliding around with the luggage; carriers are stored in their own section and secured for stability. Using one of the best cat carriers, best dog crates, or best rat cages will make the journey safe and comfortable for your pet. A pet transportation company will use these methods to transport pets, but they’ll take care of all the logistics for owners.

Q. What is the best method to transport pets?

The best method for transporting pets is to have them with you during the journey. However, if this isn’t possible, hiring a transportation service that specializes in relocating pets is the next best option. Though expensive, these services will best ensure that your pet arrives safely at its destination while undergoing the least amount of stress.

Q. Are pet transport companies safe?

Reputable pet transport companies are safe to use. Make sure to fully vet the pet transportation service before hiring one. A good pet transportation service will have USDA certification and be a member of the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA). The service should also be able to tell you exactly how its transportation process works.

Q. What is the cheapest way to ship a dog?

If your dog plus its carrier weigh less than 20 pounds, transporting the dog with you on a plane is one of the cheapest options. Most airlines charge a flat fee of around $75 for a pet to accompany you in the cabin or between $100 and $250 for the pet to fly in the plane’s cargo hold. You can also select a transportation service that will ship your pet either in a van with other pets or, for a higher fee, by itself with one or two handlers.

Q. How do you transport a big dog across the country?

The best way to transport a large dog across the country is via plane. Many airlines allow dogs to travel in a crate in the plane’s cargo hold. Since the cargo hold is pressurized and temperature-controlled and the crates are secured, this is a safe way to transport pets.

Q. How do you transport a puppy from a breeder?

There are numerous options for transporting a puppy from a breeder to its new owner. A breeder can make flight arrangements via a commercial airline or even have registered a handler travel with the dog in the cabin to its new home. For shorter trips, the dog can travel via ground transportation in a carrier in a van with other dogs. Breeders can also use a USDA-certified pet transportation service to transport the puppy to its new owner safely. Most airlines and pet transport services require dogs to be at least 8 weeks old before traveling.