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How to Choose a Pet Carrier

Jennifer Mcguiggan
March 4, 2009

Options for bringing your pet along.

If you're traveling or moving, check out these other Care.com articles: "Moving Day with Pets" andPart 1andPart 2of "Have Pet: Will Travel?". But if you just want to take your pet with you to the store or the park, keep reading.

Standard Carriers

Basic pet carriers come in both hard- and soft-sided varieties and various sizes. When buying any carrier, pay attention to the manufacturer's size and weight limits for the carrier. At the same time, use your common sense. I know that my 17-pound cat is supposed to fit in a certain size carrier. I also know that he won't go in willingly, so I need to look for a larger one with an opening that's big enough for me to (gently) wrestle him into.

Wheeled Carriers

If you'll be doing a lot of walking with your pet in a carrier, consider getting one with wheels. This will prevent your arms from getting tired and your pet from being jostled around too much. Travelers may be interested in a wheeled pet carrier luggage combo. Amazon.com and other retailers sell a system that combines several pieces of luggage and a pet carrier into one handy tower with wheels. Before you buy this or any carrier for use on an airplane, check that it meets your airline's carrier requirements.

Sport Carriers

If you like to walk or jog but your dog or cat isn't up for the challenge, consider a pet stroller. Just remember that most dogs prefer to walk and need the exercise. As for cats, well that's up to you and your feline friend to negotiate!

Cyclists can find carriers that attach to a bike like a basket. However, many of these seem to be open on the top and have no way of securing your pet inside. This could be a safety hazard if your pet decides to jump out of the basket or if you happen to crash or fall. An alternative is to use a pet trailer that connects to the back of a bicycle.

Wearable Carriers

If you emulate Paris Hilton or just need an extra fashion accessory, consider a dog carrier purse. Or, if you'd like something a bit more rugged, consider a backpack carrier. Likewise, an animal sling may be just the thing if you want to bond with your pet. Obviously, these wearable carriers work best for small dogs and cats. Nobody wants to "wear" a chocolate lab! And don't forget that your pet's safety and comfort is always more important than the cute factor.

If you need specific recommendations for carriers, start by asking your vet. Carriers should be strong enough to hold your pet, durable enough to withstand repeated use, and comfortable enough to make your pet feel at home. Match the carrier to the activity to keep your pet safe and sound, and you'll be good to go.

Jennifer McGuiggan is a freelance writer and editor. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two grey cats.

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