These days, dogs are no longer stay-at-home creatures. In fact, your pal probably has a very active social life that includes playing in the local dog park, accompanying you to pet-friendly stores, and attending family functions. Of course, there are also weekends away and vacations. With all that activity, a pet carrier or stroller may be the most essential lifestyle accessory your dog can own.
These utility items “to go” have become very trendy and the myriad styles available are both functional and fashionable. Before you make a purchase, however, there are various factors you should consider. Top on the list of considerations will be your pet’s temperament. Some pets love to be carried; others get restless quickly. Let your pal’s comfort level be the ultimate guide for your purchasing decision.
Your Personal Requirements
Make sure you assess your specific pet carrier needs before you shop. Ask yourself whether you need a general tote-around bag or carrier for everyday use or something specifically designed for airline and other travel. If it’s a general bag, what are your personal preferences? Do you like to hold something in your hand or wear something across your shoulder like a messenger bag, or do you prefer a backpack? Finally, are you looking for a pet carrier that can also hold personal items such as a cell phone, wallets, keys and make-up? Numerous styles include extra pockets for personal items. Many dog owners have more than one bag to cater to their various needs.
Checklist for Design Features
If you are looking at a “boxed” design that can be used for casual outings and for day trips and long distance travel, check to see that it has waterproof and removable floor pads, a security leash inside to restrain your pet, an interior water bottle holder, and a device that allows the carrier to be firmly attached in a car. Many styles have an additional shoulder strap that you can put into use when you get tired of carrying the bag by hand. Other innovative ideas include air-conditioning compartments where an ice pad or heat pad can be stored to provide a temporary solution for keeping your dog cool or warm. Some designs also have side curtains that provide both privacy and ventilation.
Fabrics range from corduroy, silk, faux suede, genuine leather to lightweight parachute material, actual luggage grade tear-resistant fabrics and hard plastic. Consider purchasing a practical fabric that cleans easily like Scotch-guarded tear-resistant luggage materials for your everyday carrier. You can always add to your collection with high fashion fabrics for special occasion bags.
General Totes and Strollers
Backpacks, front carriers or pouches, and shoulder bags that resemble messenger bags fall into the tote-around category and are extremely practical if you are an outdoor adventurous type, enjoy hiking and sightseeing excursions, or simply like to travel hands-free. If you are considering a backpack, remember that your dog will be out of sight and out of your hands-on control. Also, some strangers find it irresistible to pat backpack travelers–something your pet might not enjoy.
A pet stroller is great for an arthritic or elderly dog that can’t walk too far. They offer more room than a bag on wheels. Also the latter could subject your pal to a bumpy sidewalk ride because the small wheels are similar to those used on luggage.
Strollers are wonderful for elderly owners because they offer alternative walking support to a walking stick. They are also a great option for anyone who would rather push than carry! Most styles fold up for easy transportation. There are models that cater for two pets in a double-decker style, and some have removable carriers that you can convert to a standard hand-held carrier if necessary.
For large elderly pets that enjoy outings but can’t go the distance, consider a wagon. Perhaps you can resurrect the one you used to take the kids to the beach when they were small. One with a canopy will keep your pet cool. Alternatively, attach an umbrella to the side.
Special Airline Travel Bags
If you are looking specifically for a carrier that you can bring on board an airline, it’s essential to take individual airline regulations into account as size requirements vary. Pets have to weigh less than 22 pounds and travel in carriers that are a maximum of 18 inches in length and 11 inches in height to be allowed in the cabin. For in-cabin travel, consider a rectangular soft-sided bag with a special internal structure that compresses down under the airline seat. This will give your dog more sideways room without jeopardizing her safety and security.
Big dogs have to be crated and travel in the hold so suitable carriers focus on functionality, not style. The correct size will enable your dog to both stand and sit. Make sure your pal still has basic comforts like a soft waterproof floor pad and water bottle. And do give careful consideration to the locking devices to ensure your pal’s in-flight security. (Only certified service dogs, irrespective of size, are allowed to travel on board and sit at your feet.)
It’s a good idea to introduce your dog to the experience of being toted in a carrier from puppyhood. Box-styled carriers open around the house and allow your pet to jump in and out. If you’re considering a pouch style or something similar for everyday use, put your pet inside and wear it around the house to ensure that it is comfortable for your pet before venturing out. By making your dog used to a carrier for a variety of outings she will be less fearful of visits to the vet. Generally carriers should intimate fun – and being with you!