A pet carrier provides a safe, reliable, and convenient way to travel with your pet. Whether you’re looking to take your furry friend on a trip around the world, get your dog to its veterinarian appointment, or bring an injured dog out of the house for some fresh air – we’ve got you covered.
The best pet carriers are made from quality materials, are safe for your dog or cat to be carried in, and won’t tear or break after a couple of trips. We highlight why these five pet carriers stand out from the rest and what to look for in a pet carrier down in our buyers guide.
5 Best Pet Carriers
#1 Best Overall: Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier
The Sherpa® Original Deluxe™ Pet Carrier is compliant with airline and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, making it safe to use for air travel. A patented spring wire frame makes this pet carrier foldable and allows it to conform to airline under-seat requirements, so you can easily go from the car to the airport with your pet. Locking zippers are included as an added safety measure, while breathable mesh windows may comfort your pet as they can see their surroundings.
This pet carrier is included in Sherpa’s Guaranteed on Board® (GOB) program, which guarantees Worldwise will refund the cost of your airline flight and pet airline travel fee if you’re denied boarding due to your pet carrier. The pet carrier comes with an adjustable padded carrying strap, a seat belt strap, and a removable and machine-washable faux lambskin liner. You’ll be able to load your pet into the carrier with ease, as it features both top and side entries.
- Cost: Around $40
- Weight capacity: 16.0 pounds
- Dimensions: 17.0 by 11.0 by 10.5 inches
- Weight: 3.2 lbs.
In our experience, we don’t think you’re going to find a better quality pet carrier than the Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier. Although it’s relatively expensive compared to other pet carriers, we think it warrants the premium price tag.
|Overall Rating||5 out of 5|
Quality: The second our team members took this pet carrier out of the box, we could tell it was “deluxe” quality. While we didn’t necessarily have many quality concerns with other pet carriers, the Sherpa pet carrier stood out as a notch above the rest.
Safety: We had full faith in this pet carrier during testing. As long as you order the right size carrier for your pet, they’ll definitely be safe and secure.
Durability: Our review team members were huge fans of the spring wire frame. It didn’t matter what our testing pup, Taz, did to this pet carrier. It would always spring back into its original shape. This, and the quality of materials, means this may be the only pet carrier you ever need to buy.
What Customers Are Saying
Amazon Review Score: 4.6 out of 5 stars based on 9,700 ratings
Reviewers consider the Sherpa Original Deluxe Pet Carrier as an incredibly high-quality pet carrier. A huge number of reviews mention the fact that they specifically chose this pet carrier because it’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved, meaning your dog can travel on a plane with you. Reviewers mention taking flights with Air Canada and Southwest with this pet carrier bag.
#2 Best For Cats: Vceoa Carriers Soft-Sided Pet Carrier
The Vceoa Carriers Soft-Sided Pet Carrier is a comfortable way for pets to travel by car and fits most airlines’ under-seat dimensions. However, every airline has its own specific rules and regulations – meaning it’s best to contact your airline before flying with a pet. This pet carrier features locking zippers for safety, and mesh windows as well as top and side openings to ensure your pet is not only safe but also happy and content.
For those that order this pet carrier for their cat or small dog, you can expect to receive a removable base insert that makes cleaning your carrier a breeze and an adjustable shoulder strap that can be used as a seatbelt. Additionally, carrying handles are featured on the pet carrier, and the back strap can be used to fasten the carrier to your luggage.
- Cost: Around $20
- Weight capacity: 16.0 lbs.
- Dimensions: 17.5 by 11.0 by 11.0 in.
- Weight: 2.2 lbs.
The Vceoa Carriers Soft-Sided Pet Carrier is an incredibly well-built pet carrier that offers a safe and reliable way to transport your cat or small dog.
|Overall Rating||4.8 out of 5|
Quality: We had no real concerns about the quality of materials used in the manufacturing of this pet carrier. The only reason this pet carrier didn’t receive a perfect rating for quality was the lack of multiple sizing options.
Safety: Although this pet carrier is undoubtedly small and designed for cats, it did fit our testing pup. Our testing pup was a little hesitant about the pet carrier due to its smaller size but was perfectly content once he was secured. We are also big fans of the built-in safety tether.
Durability: Even with our testing pup hopping in and out of the top loading entry, we felt confident this pet carrier would stand the test of time.
What Customers Are Saying
Amazon Review Score: 4.8 out of 5 stars based on 17,500 ratings
The Vceoa Carriers Soft-Sided Pet Carrier has received rave reviews from customers on Amazon, with many speaking to the durability of the carrier. Several reviewers also note that they appreciate that this carrier is both expandable and collapsible. One reviewer claims their cat freaked out after being placed in this pet carrier, but the carrier itself held up through the cat’s desperate attempts to free itself.
#3 Best Value: Henkelion Pet Carrier
The Henkelion Pet Carrier is an airline-approved travel bag for cats and dogs that allows you to take your furry friend aboard as a carry-on for your next flight. Two connecting loop handles offer balanced carrying of your pet as a dual seat belt or luggage strap. The pet carrier has three side entries as well as a top-loading entry for easy accessibility. It should be noted that all four entryways of the pet carrier feature mesh windows to keep your pet calm as you travel.
Made from a durable polyester fabric, this pet carrier is lightweight enough to be easy to carry but thick enough to last. A three-layer mat ensures your dog or cat is comfortable during travel, as the wooden board provides stability, the foam layer adds a bit of padding, and the woolen mat is removable and machine-washable to keep the carrier clean. A built-in safety leash keeps your pet safe and secure while carrying him/her.
- Cost: Around $25
- Weight capacity: 15.0 lbs.
- Dimensions: 17.0 by 11.0 by 11.0 in.
- Weight: 0.65 lbs.
More than any other pet carrier we researched or tested, the Henkelion Pet Carrier impressed us with its quality. If bang-for-your-buck is top of mind, then this pet carrier is certainly worth considering.
|Overall Rating||4.7 out of 5|
Quality: Wow. That one word just about sums up our thoughts on the quality of this pet carrier. To be priced as reasonably as it is, it’s truly incredible that this pet carrier comes with all the features it does and the fact that it has one of the best quality pet carrier mats on the market.
Safety: Based on our experience with this pet carrier, we don’t think you’ll have any problems safely carrying your pet around. The carrier didn’t receive a perfect safety score only because we were concerned about the durability of the built-in safety leash.
Durability: While we were impressed with the quality of this pet carrier, we did hold some small reservations about its durability. Our testing pup could adjust his body weight to make the entire carrier sway, which ultimately made us nervous that he’d eventually wear this pet carrier down.
What Customers Are Saying
Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 stars based on 34,000 ratings
Customers love the many zippers and pockets featured on the Henkelion Pet Carrier. Lots of reviewers speak to the fact that this pet tote is perfect for larger cats who seem to be too squished in standard-sized cat carriers. A few customers complained that their pet carrier smelled of burnt rubber, but we didn’t experience this when we ordered the Henkelion Pet Carrier.
#4 Best For Small Dogs: Tomkas Small Dog Carrier Sling
Designed to keep your pet closer than even a dog backpack could, the Tomkas Small Dog Carrier Sling is perfect for your pandemic pup. Even if you don’t have a clingy dog, this dog purse now gives pet owners the ability to take their old, sick, and/or injured dog out on walks – which would be nearly impossible without the Tomkas. It should be noted that this pet carrier is designed for dogs between 3.0 and 10.0 lbs., but our testing pup exceeded the weight limit.
An adjustable shoulder strap means pet owners of all ages can take their pet out on their next adventure, though we wouldn’t recommend wearing this pet carrier while driving a car.
Simply adjust the length via the plastic buckle and, violá, even your kid can use this carrier sling. Even if you’ve got a hyperactive dog, this pet carrier prioritizes safety by featuring a safety tether within the sling itself. Zippered pockets provide a place for pet owners to keep their dog accessories or personal items safe.
- Cost: Around $20
- Weight capacity: 10.0 lbs.
- Dimensions: 10.35 by 1.85 by 12.52 in.
- Weight: 0.77 lbs.
The Tomkas Small Dog Carrier Sling is the ultimate pet carrier for owners whose pets are clingy, needy, and simply never want their mom/dad out of their sight.
|Overall Rating||4.5 out of 5|
Quality: This dog carrier sling is very well-made. Although the manufacturer doesn’t state what materials the carrier is made from, it’s apparent that more premium materials were used in the creation of the Tomkas than cost-effective ones.
Safety: By design, this pet carrier simply isn’t going to be the safest option for your pet. We think that even without attaching the built-in safety buckle to your dog’s harness, any dog would struggle to get out of the carrier sling. However, a carrier sling will never be able to provide the safety that a soft-sided or hard-sided pet carrier would.
Durability: The pet carrier is incredibly durable. Its material is thick and throughout our testing, we felt that Taz stood no chance of ripping, tearing, breaking, or damaging the carrier sling.
What Customers Are Saying
Amazon Review Score: 4.2 out of 5 based on 20,700 ratings
The Tomkas Small Dog Carrier Sling has received positive reviews from pet owners who claim their pet loves this sling carrier. A huge number of reviewers also mention how comfortable the shoulder strap is, even when you’re wearing the pet carrier for long periods of time. A few reviewers complain that their dog wasn’t comfortable sitting in the sling, but we mark that down to customer misuse or their dog’s personal preferences.
#5 Also Consider: Amazon Basics 2-Door Hard-Sided Travel Carrier
The Amazon Basics 2-Door Hard-Sided Travel Carrier is made from plastic but features steel wire doors and screws to ensure this pet carrier is built to last. The hard-sided pet carrier has two doors, a traditional front door, and a top-loading door, making loading and accessing your pet a breeze. A number of air vents spanning the front, back, sides, and top of the carrier help to keep your pet calm and comfortable during travel.
The front door features a spring-loaded latch to allow for one-handed opening and closing. The door itself swings open to the left or right depending on how you set up your pet carrier, but it can be changed up later. If taking flights with your pet isn’t your top priority and rather finding a durable pet carrier for car travel is, this is a great option to consider.
- Cost: Around $30
- Weight capacity: 20.0 lbs.
- Dimensions: 22.83 by 14.96 by 12.99 in.
- Weight: 4.55 lbs.
In our experience, the Amazon Basics 2-Door Hard-Sided Travel Carrier is one of the best pet carriers available if you’d prefer to opt for a hard-sided carrier rather than a soft-sided one.
|Overall Rating||4.2 out of 5|
Quality: We had some issues with the top and bottom sections of the carrier staying on during our testing. We could understand some of the questions and complaints coming from customer reviews online, and it seems this carrier is better suited for animals under 10.0 lbs.
Safety: This pet carrier offers the expected amount of safety that most pet carriers could offer. Due to the lack of padding and omission of a built-in safety tether or leash though, we weren’t able to give a perfect 5-star rating.
Durability: While the top-loading entry might not have been the highest quality and the front entry wire didn’t close tightly, this pet carrier is undoubtedly durable. None of the other pet carriers we researched or tested implement as much plastic in their design, which ultimately makes this a strong and rigid carrier.
What Customers Are Saying
Amazon Review Score: 4.7 out of 5 stars based on 29,000 ratings
Reviewers like how easy it is to put together the Amazon Basics 2-Door Hard-Sided Travel Carrier. Customers appreciate how well-made this pet carrier is, and many also comment on the sturdiness of the pet travel carrier compared to soft-sided carriers. Those with negative feedback complain that the top load door pops open if your pet weighs more than 10.0 lbs.
Pet Carrier Buyers Guide
If you’re looking for the best pet carrier on the market, the pet carrier’s level of quality, safety, and durability must be your top priorities. However, it’s also important whether or not your pet carrier is airline-approved if you plan on flying with it and if it’s straightforward to get it through security at airports.
Airline-Approved Pet Carriers
There are no overarching rules or regulations when it comes to airline-approved pet carriers. While one pet carrier may be able to be taken on board one airline’s flight, the same pet carrier may not be allowed elsewhere.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) sets technical standards for 290 airlines, roughly 83 percent of total air traffic. This trade association lists the maximum exterior size of a small pet carrier for cats or dogs weighing 20.0 lbs. or less as 21.0 by 16.0 by 15.0 in.
Small pets are allowed through TSA checkpoints, but you need to check with your specific airline about their rules and regulations. It should be noted that there are different size requirements for pet carriers you can take onboard a flight as a carry-on.
For more information on flying with your pets, check out the IATA’s Live Animal Regulations, which includes details on container requirements.
What Size Pet Carrier Fits Under Airline Seats?
Pet carriers that are 17.5 by 12.0 by 7.5 in. in size or smaller fit under airline seats.
United Airlines does not have weight or breed restrictions for pets on their flights and allow both hard- and soft-sided pet carriers on board. Hard-sided kennels must conform to the IATA’s guidelines, but soft-sided kennels can be as large as 11.0 by 18.0 by 11.0 in. on United flights.
Pet Carriers: Bottom Line
How We Tested
The pet carriers in this article went through two rounds of reviews. We started by searching retailers like Amazon, RealTruck, and Advance Auto Parts for top products, looking at factors such as whether or not the pet carrier was airline approved, weight (as you’ll need to carry not only your pet, but also the carrier itself while traveling in any capacity), customer ratings, and prices.
Our product testing team then ordered the pet carriers that best met these standards. A team member tested each product on a car, taking note of the build quality of the pet carrier, how safely the pet carrier could move a pet, and its durability. Each pet carrier was given a rating out of 5 stars based on this criteria.
- Quality: Deemed as the most important quality of a pet carrier by our review team, we tested each pet carrier’s quality by observing how it held up when loading and unloading our testing pup.
- Safety: Equally as important as quality, we tested each pet carrier’s safety by carrying our testing pup in each carrier for a predetermined amount of time. Following this, we tested whether our testing pup was safe during a brief car ride.
- Durability: To test for durability, our review team loaded and unloaded our testing pup multiple times. Whilst loaded, we encouraged Taz (our testing pup), to sit, stand, lay down, and just generally bounce around to get an idea of how much of a beating each pet carrier could take.
Taz, our testing pup, weighs approximately 11.0 lbs. and is 23.0 in. long and 16.0 in. tall.
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Pet Carrier: FAQ
*Data accurate at time of publication.