Our Top Picks for Pet Bedding and Seat Covers

Pet travel preparation doesn’t stop with finding an airline-approved pet carrier or kennel. You want to ensure your pet is comfortable for the duration of the journey, whether he’s with you in the cabin or in the cargo hold. Shopping for pet bedding and seat covers can be as difficult as finding the carrier itself; you want material that is both soft and absorbent, but you don’t want the container to feel cramped at any point during the trip. Solutions do exist, and we’ve found a few items that stand apart from the rest.

 

Absorbent Pad; DryFur Pet Carrier Insert Pads

Sometimes you want a little more absorption security. Maybe your carrier already comes with a removable liner, or perhaps your pup has a habit of reliving himself in stressful situations. For added safety, we recommend investing in an insertable dry pad. These pads are reusable, inexpensive, and sized to fit nearly any type of carrier or kennel. We prefer the Pet Carrier Insert Pads from DryFur. These have a rigid code to keep the pad from bunching when wet, allowing the absorptive material to stay in place throughout the flight.

To use, simply slide this pad directly under your carrier or kennel’s bedding. If you’re choosing to forego bedding (maybe you’re just taking a quick trip to the vet), the pad is soft and plush enough for animals to remain comfortable. Chemicals in the pad work to eliminate potential smell, which is perfect for the cramped quarters of an airplane cabin. If you want added security or a no-spills guarantee, an absorbent pad is a low-cost solution.

Pet Carrier Bedding; Reversible Paw Print Pet Bed

Pet carrier bedding is one of the most difficult items to shop for. You want the bed to be comfortable, but not so plush that it makes the container feel cramped. You want it to be absorbent, but you don’t want that quality to hinder its comfort. When shopping for an in-carrier pet bed, we recommend looking for liners and pillows no more than three or four inches high/deep. Depending on your dog’s size, this will allow them to both stand up and sit down comfortably.

If you’re looking for something small, comfortable, and inexpensive, try the Reversible Paw Print Bed from Midwest Homes for Pets. It comes in six separate sizes to ensure a great fit, and the soft synthetic material makes a comfortable seat for your furry friend. The material itself, though not hyper absorptive, is machine washable and dryer safe, allowing you to easily use and reuse this helpful item. This is also a comfortable option for pet parents looking for small, washable peds for the home.

Cargo Kennel Bedding; Polo-Zippered Insertable and Removable Pillow

If your pet is traveling in the cargo hold of an airplane, you’ll likely need something a bit larger and more durable. You’ll want something with enough absorptive power to prevent long-term messes, but you don’t want to sacrifice comfort on cross-country flights. For cargo kennel bedding, we prefer the Polo-Zippered Insertable and Removable Pillow from touchdog. This item features a zip-open removable and machine-washable inner cushion, making for easy cleanups and reuse. The bed is made of a nylon-cotton blended exterior and a poly-cotton blended interior, allowing the pillow to absorb any and all messes that may occur in transit. This bed is soft enough to comfortably lie down but sturdy enough for your dog to stand.

The Polo-Zippered Insertable and Removable Pillow comes in two sizes (LG and XL) and four colors. However, if you’re worried about weight, be sure to test this out before flight day. The product weighs just over two pounds; that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it could make a difference in how much you pay for cargo travel.

Travel-Friendly Bedding; Chuckit! Travel Bed

If you’re bringing a furry friend on vacation, comfort supplies don’t stop with carrier and kennel beds. You may want to bring an additional bed for the hotel. Of course, you can always reuse the travel beds, but they may be saturated with drool and urine. If you don’t have access to an adequate washer or dryer, this could result in a build-up of smell and bacteria. You don’t want Fido relaxing on that for the duration of your trip.

Instead, opt for an inexpensive and travel-friendly bed. We like the Chuckit! Travel Bed, which folds up into a portable sack for optimal utility. The fabric is machine-washable, breathable, dries quickly, and is very soft. It measures 30”x39”, fitting most dogs. The bed itself is around four inches thick, creating a comfortable base, and the entire bed and sack weigh just over one pound. If you’re worried about fitting this into your carry-on, the sack has a strap for you to tie it to the outside of your backpack or suitcase.

Car Seat Covers; Pet Front Set Cover and 600D Waterproof Pet Car Seat Covers

Traveling often means renting a car or utilizing rideshare services. Though both Uber and Lyft allow animals in their vehicles, the decision to allow a dog into a car is made by the driver. As a precaution, you may want to bring a car seat cover. This item will protect the driver’s car from shedding, drooling, and an accidental bathroom break. If you’re using rideshare services, we recommend the Pet Front Seat Cover from BarksBar. The material is soft, waterproof, and folds up for easy travel. Additionally, the simple design can be quickly installed, which is very important if you have an impatient Uber driver.

Some pet parents will opt to rent a car on trips. Most rental car companies will allow animals in their cars, but many require drivers to use seat covers. If you’re looking for a travel-friendly but durable cover, we like the 600D Waterproof Pet Car Seat Cover from Bonve Pet. This Hammock-style cover protects the entire back seat, and the waterproof design is leak-proof. Additionally, the cover comes with two seatbelts for maximum safety.

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Six Essential Items for Your Doggy Go-Bag

Your pet flight experience will differ depending on your airline, airport, and your pet’s method of travel. Despite these variables, pet parents should always carry and pack specific items in their doggy go-bag. If you’re heading to the airport with your furry friend, you should take along a few essential accessories. From first-aid kits to food and water bowl, these items will ensure your pet’s flight is both safe and comfortable. Below, we have listed the seven essential toys and accessories to have packed and ready to go for your big travel day. Pet parents can modify the list to suit their animal’s needs, but carefully consider the items you bring; they might take up some space, but they will significantly improve your pet’s journey.

 

Dog Travel Bag; Day Away Tote

If you’re traveling with a furry friend, you’ve likely spent hours agonizing over the perfect carrier. While considering these options, you likely neglected to find a carrier for your pet’s belongings—food, accessories, and other essential travel items. There is a wealth of options available online, but we like the Day Away Tote from Overland Dog Gear. This lightweight tote includes several pockets of varying sizes, an adjustable padded shoulder strap for added comfort, and a lined carrier can for dog food and treats. This polyester bag is under $30 and comes in three colors.

If you’re in the market for something a bit larger, consider this Weekend Tote Organizer Bag from Hilike. It is slightly more expensive, but the bag provides multiple pockets of various sizes, dog food carriers (up to 30 cups), and silicone collapsible bowls.

 

Collar and Leash; TSA Fast Pass Leash & Collar

Unless you are traveling with a service animal, your pet will likely need to stay in his carrier while at the airport. He may only leave the carrier while utilizing a pet relief area or passing through security. When this happens, he must remain on a leash. A new, busy, and loud environment is enough to scare even the most curious pup, so investing in a great leash and collar is necessary before travel. We like the TSA Fast Pass Leash & Collar, which is guaranteed to not set off metal detectors. This allows for hassle-free airport inspections and often eliminates the need for additional pat-downs. This leash and collar system features an easy secure snap buckle—not a breakaway buckle, as most collars and leashes have. It is adjustable and fits both cats and dogs.

 

First-Aid Kit; Safe Travels First Aid Kit and ThunderCap Calming Cap

It is impossible to anticipate when an accident will strike, but if it’s on a plane or in the airport, you want to be prepared. Bringing a first-aid kit, even a rudimentary one, is essential for safe pet transit. A standard kit, such as that offered by Johnson & Johnson, will do the trick—it contains assorted adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointments, and soft-gauze bandages. You should also consider adding a muzzle to your pet’s kit. This will prevent biting and allow the animal to calm down. We like the ThunderCap Calming Cap, a behavior management aid designed to decrease a dog’s anxiety or aggression in high-stress situations.

 

Food and Water Bowls; COMSUN Collapsible Dog Bowl and Petmate Kennel Water Pet Cup

Your pet should be able to eat and drink while in transit, and it is the responsibility of the parent to provide food and water bowls. Collapsible silicone bowls, such as the COMSUN Collapsible Dog Bowl, are the most popular among frequent travelers. They fold up to store easily in any bag, and they are easy to clean and maintain. The non-slip bottom provides enough grip for your pup to eat and drink without the bowl sliding around, and a handy carabiner clip delivers additional convenience.

If your pet is traveling in cargo, you will need to purchase attachable food and water bowls. We like the Petmate Kennel Water Pet Cup, a durable system designed to attach to the kennel’s door for easy access. However, if you are looking for this type of bowl system, we recommend purchasing it alongside your kennel. This will allow you to ensure that it fits the kennel and remains sturdy in transit.

 

Food, Water, and Treats; Zuke’s Enhance Calming Chicken Formula

Before your flight, pack a couple servings of your pup’s favorite food in a Tupperware container or plastic bag. When you pass through airport security, purchase a bottle of water or fill up a container at a water fountain. Keep these items with you at all times for the duration of your journey—you never know when hunger stress might strike. Remember to bring food and treats that your dog will recognize; trying a new food on the day of a flight is never a good idea. Similarly, you should pack your pet’s favorite treats, but consider adding a calming treat to the mix. We like the Enhance Calming Chicken Formula from Zuke’s. This variety includes passion flower, valerian, chamomile, hawthorn, and L-theanine to ease stress, whining, excessive panting, and other nervous behavior.

 

Toys; Mammoth 100% Cotton Dog Rope Toy

Toys and blankets provide comfort to animals in times of stress. If possible, grab your pup’s favorite toy before heading out the door. The familiarity of a chew toy will help calm the animal in anxious situations. However, you must ensure the toys you pack are safe. You will not always be able to supervise your dog during transit, and you do not want to risk accidental asphyxiation if a small part comes loose. To that end, you will not want to pack toys that bounce, fly, or spring. Instead, opt for chew toys, such as the Mammoth Cotton Dog Rope Toy, which is built to withstand even the most aggressive chewers.

 

Pet parents should carefully consider each item on this list before leaving for the airport. If you choose not to include something, you should have a great, legitimate reason for neglecting to bring it—”not enough space” is rarely an acceptable excuse. When packed correctly, these items should easily fit into your carry-on or dog travel bag, adding just a few pounds of weight to your luggage. Remember that your airport is unlikely to have an in-terminal pet store, and forgetting an item could spell disaster for an anxious animal. However, with the right preparation and packing, your journey should be both safe and comfortable.

 

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Purchasing an Airline-Approved Pet Carrier? Ask These 5 Questions

When purchasing an airline-approved pet carrier, it is essential to arrive armed with the information you need to make a confident purchase. Dogs on Planes already provides most of the basic information you need to know, but if it’s convenient to do so, we also recommend you take advantage of the in-store experience including a brief trial run with your pet. When you’ve narrowed down the options, you can ask a sales associate the following questions to guarantee a great purchase.

 

Do you have a scale?

Some pet carriers advertise incorrect weights and heights. If you are purchasing a container for simple vet visits, these measurements don’t matter very much. However, one inch of height or a couple pounds of weight could ruin your dog’s ability to board a plane. Though a specific carrier may claim to be “airline-approved,” the maximum measurements are not standard across airlines. Check your provider’s requirements before purchasing. In assessing the measurements yourself, you ensure airline height and weight compatibility. Most larger or specialty stores offer a variety of pet services, such as grooming and boarding. In most cases, there will be a scale and tape measurer available.

 

Is there any proof of airline approval?

As with measurements, some carriers falsely advertise airline approval through tricky and confusing wording: “travel approved,” “travel tested,” and “flight safe” are popular choices to make customers believe the product has been airline-approved. Look for signage, stickers, or informational tags before making your pet carrier decision. If you don’t see anything, ask the sales associate if the store has additional information or literature on a specific product. In most cases, the salesperson will be able to look up any certification or approval a carrier may have.

 

Does it expand or collapse?

Though measurements are the most important factor in choosing a pet carrier, comfort should follow as a close second. Soft-sided carriers provide added comfort; their ability to collapse under a seat and expand to increase available pet space could mean the difference between your animal having a peaceful trip and a stressful one. Look for carriers that expand in one or two directions; this small addition can double the space your pet has to move around during the flight. However, always check to see that this addition does not hinder any other safety feature, such as ventilation and security.

 

Is anything else included in the purchase? 

This is an especially important for pet parents flying their animals in the cargo hold. These kennels are made of hard-sided material, such as plastic, metal, or wood, and they have solid roofs. Most do not come with any sort of bed or lining for added comfort, so it is essential to ask your sales associate. Additionally, animals traveling in cargo must have access to food and water dishes, which affix to the inside of the door. The airline staff should be able to access the dishes without opening the door. Some cargo kennels include these attachments, but many do not. If your kennel is not sold with the necessary materials, you can easily buy food and water dishes for a few extra dollars. In asking during the purchase, you eliminate a potentially devastating surprise on the day of your flight.

 

Can my dog test it out?

This is perhaps the largest benefit of shopping for a pet carrier in a store. You’ll arrive armed with your airline’s maximum measurements, but these mean nothing if your pet cannot fit comfortably in the carrier. Bring your dog along and allow him to check out the container. If he can’t stand or sit comfortably in the space, move onto the next option. Additionally, bringing your dog will allow you to check if the carrier fits within an airline’s weight requirement.

In asking these questions, pet parents ensure they get the best, most comprehensive information about specific pet carrier products. However, it is important to arrive at your pet store already understanding the features necessary in airline-approved carriers. Research your airline’s specific policies, write down the measurements you need, grab your dog, and head to your local pet retailer to find the airline-approved carrier you need.

 

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Big Box vs. Independent Pet Stores

Many pet owners are torn between convenient and affordable chain stores and small, locally-owned businesses. The decision is determined by a variety of factors, like budget, item, time limit, and resource availability. We know that big box stores are often the cheaper and more convenient option, but they are not the perfect choice for every purchase. Similarly, small, independently-owned shops have a more limited inventory, but this allows them to provide specialized products and services. As with most things pet-related, your choice in store will be determined by the type and quality of product you need. See below for our comprehensive guide.

 

Big Box Stores

Big box stores continue to dominate the pet supply market. Whether it’s through brick-and-mortar locations or online retail branches, most pet owners have visited a large chain pet supply store. These retail venues are known for their wide-reaching inventory and accessible prices—they carry everything from pet carriers and kennels to birdseed and aquarium decorations. If you need to pick up several unrelated pet supplies—for example: terrarium decorations, specialty bird food, and a cargo kennel water dish—you’ll be able to do all of your shopping at a single location.

Large inventories comprise just part of the benefit of shopping at a big box pet store. Large stores with a wide market reach are able to sell products at the lowest possible prices. Consistent and recurring sales further lower prices, allowing customers to save hundreds of dollars on large purchases. The e-Commerce pet industry is quickly changing this reality; buying online is becoming less expensive than shopping in a store. However, a big box store will almost always have lower prices than a small, independently-owned shop.

If you prioritize convenience and affordability, a large-scale pet store chain is your best option. However, big box stores have their own set of disadvantages. In most cases, a large-scale pet supply store will not provide the customer service necessary for big, important purchases, such as airline-approved carriers and kennels. The responsibility of research will fall to you, the customer. Pet store sales associates will understand their inventory, but if you’re trying to decide between two carriers when they have dozens of options, the attendant is unlikely to have the expertise necessary to advise. Similarly, if you want an item that is not in their inventory, ordering can be difficult.

Recap: Big box stores offer convenience and affordability through their large inventories, but they may not provide the customer service and flexibility necessary for important purchases.

 

Independent Pet Stores

The benefits of shopping at a small, independently-owned pet store rival those of big box stores, but they are necessarily different. When you shop local or independent, you sacrifice both convenience and affordability. Of course, there are still affordable boutique pet stores, but big box stores have a greater command of the market; they are able to offer supplies at the lowest prices available (aside from online retailers, who, without the burden of a brick-and-mortar storefront, can afford to slash costs even more). To that end, small, independently-owned pet stores are unlikely to have all the supplies you need. If you want to buy cat litter, dog treats, a bird cage, and a new aquarium filter in one trip, a big box store is likely the more convenient option.

That said, independent pet stores bring something significant to the table: an ability to follow market trends and understand their target buyers. A small size will allow these small businesses to follow market trends more closely, allowing them to quickly and easily phase out inventory in favor of new technology or trends. If you want the latest, trendiest pet supplies on the market, they’re more likely to be in your neighborhood pet store than at the large chain retailer off the highway.

Independent pet stores also possess a greater understanding of their target market. Though this greatly limits accessibility if you are not their target buyer (i.e. a cat owner shopping in a dog boutique), it improves the range and quality of supplies for specific customers. If you own a large tropical fish in Houston, there are dozens of independent stores available to provide resources and supplies. The big box store might not have the expertise necessary to coach you own that specific pet experience.

Shopping independent, regardless of industry, will nearly always result in a better customer service experience. Customers are able to communicate their likes, dislikes, and expectations for a product, and the sales associate will be able to point you in the right direction. Furthermore, if you would like to purchase a product but don’t see it on a small pet store’s shelves, talk to a sales associate; in most cases, they will be able to order it and potentially stock the item for future buyers. If you’re shopping at a big box store, you might have difficulty ordering an item if it is not in their inventory.

Recap: Independent pet stores lack convenience and affordability, but customer relations and an understanding of the target market and trends provide utility for specific demographics.

 

Conclusion

As with most shopping experience, the store you choose will depend on the type of product you need. If you’re only in the market for pet toys and a collar, you’ll find the trendiest products at your local, independently-owned pet store. If you need to stock up on food and litter, the big box store is likely the more convenient option. However, never write off the specificity of a small pet store. Who knows—you could have a neighborhood pet store devoted exclusively to cat litter.

 

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Guide to Pet Stores: Where and How to Spend Your Money on Pet Travel Supplies

As with most retail venues, not all pet stores are created equal. The varying needs of pet owners have led to the creation of uniquely-defined subcategories. Unfortunately, this diversity also means that not every pet store may carry the item you need—especially if you’re looking for airline-friendly equipment. We’ve identified the four most popular subcategories to explore what, specifically, they can offer traveling pet parents. We hope these categories, Natural/Organic, National Chains, Multi-Purpose, and Online stores, will help you shop more strategically for airline-friendly supplies, regardless of the type of pet store in your neighborhood.

 

Natural or Organic

The “mindful living” trend has extended into the world of pet care, and pet stores have begun to capitalize on the growing demand for organic and “all-natural” pet supplies. Whether it’s chemical-free cat litter or BPA-free toys, natural and organic pet stores have a strong consumer base. These stores often carry natural and organic food, toys, clothing, and cleaning products, as well as a range of handmade or independently-produced supplies, such as collars and leashes.

If this is your only option to prepare for your upcoming pet-friendly trip, stick to stocking up on toys and treats. These pet store tend to be exorbitantly priced despite the lack of data to support “all-natural” pet products. As a result, you may want to hold off on larger, more expensive purchases, such as large bags of food and pet carriers. In fact, a natural/organic pet store may not even carry the heavy-duty, airline-approved carriers you need to fly. If you’re in the market for one, opt for an online retailer or find another pet store.

 

National Chain

Large, national pet store chains, such as PetSmart, Petco, Pet Supplies Plus, and Petland Discounts, are the tried and true favorites of pet parents across the world. These large stores have nearly everything you need to raise a pup from infancy to adulthood. If you have one of these in your town or neighborhood, consider yourself lucky—this is a one-stop shop for all things pet travel.

If you’re stocking up on supplies for an upcoming vacation, you can find nearly everything you need at a national chain: food, toys, treats, harnesses, seatbelts, and crates and carriers of all sizes. However, those with access to these types of stores should prioritize carriers and other safety equipment. National chains have wide selections of airline-approved carriers, and they are often sold at the lowest prices available at brick-and-mortar stores. These are also excellent stores for purchasing dog seat belts, safety harnesses, and secure collars to guarantee your pet’s security for the duration of your trip.

 

Multi-Purpose

Multi-purpose pet stores are as ubiquitous as they are varied. These retail venues are often presented in conjunction with another service; they might share a space with a groomer, a pet boarding facility, or an independent veterinary office. Though the selection is often limited, the items are likely carefully curated to support the product offered through the venue. If your local groomer has a retail section, you should expect to find a selection of shampoos, brushes, and collars/leashes. If a boarding facility has a boutique, you’ll likely see toys, treats, and a limited selection of food.

Multi-purpose pet stores are some of the most difficult for pet travel shopping. Odds are, you won’t be able to find specific items unless they are similar to the service the shop provides. However, most will provide a few travel-related necessities: collars, leashes, and small toys. Though the selection will be very limited, the products offered at multi-purpose stores are chosen for a purpose. If you’re shopping at the boarder, you might see more sturdy collars and harnesses for in-facility use. If you’re shopping at a salon, you might find handmade or artful collars and leashes. However, don’t plan to stock up on travel supplies at these stores—they are often very expensive.

 

Online

As with most industries, pet supply providers have moved to online venues. If you shop online, you’ll be able to find everything and anything related to pet travel. Online shoppers can utilize customer reviews to steer them in the correct direction, and purchasing several items from varying sources is possible from the comfort of your living room couch. Online retailers can come in the form of large, national chains (Chewy.com, for example), or small, local boutiques trying to branch into the online market.

As with all pet store options, online retails have their own set of disadvantages. Purchasing large, important items, such as airline-approved carriers, may be more accessible, but you will not be able to experience the quality of the product until after you have made the purchase. If you’re torn between shopping online and at a brick-and-mortar store, check out our guide; we break down the benefits and drawbacks of each option to help you decide which is best for your travel needs.

If you’re on the hunt for some airline-friendly pet supplies, you can find the appropriate materials at nearly every pet store. If your options are limited, you will be able to find a version of what you need at every iteration of pet store we have described. However, if you have a couple of options, be discerning with your purchasing—it could save you a lot of money and guarantee a better-quality product.

 

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Shopping In-Store vs. Online: What You Need to Know

If you’re in the process of researching airline-approved pet carriers, you’re likely deciding between purchasing online or at a brick-and-mortar retailer. Pet store owners are split on the issue, but the fact remains that both options have several benefits and detriments. Inevitably, the decision will rely on a variety of factors. To supplement your choice, we have explored each retail option in detail. Both possibilities include thorough considerations and extensive “Pro/Con” tables to guide your purchase.

When reviewing this guide, remember that your purchasing venue will determine the experience you have in selecting the product; it won’t necessarily impact the quality of the item (unless, of course, you go with an untested off-brand carrier). The decision to shop online or in a store will influence your confidence in the purchase, the money you spend, and the convenience.

 

The Case for Online Shopping

Online shopping is an explosive trend that shows no signs of slowing down. The convenience of online product browsing allows customers to quickly and efficiently view, compare, and review items from the comfort of home. Users can conduct side-by-side comparisons with necessary specifications (height, weight, and material are essential considerations for pet carriers), and the range of options is seemingly endless. Coupon codes and free shipping bundles are widely available, and customer reviews are invaluable in deciding which product works best.

However, online shopping is not always the perfect purchasing venue for certain products; airline-approved pet carriers may fall into that category. When buying a carrier, you will need to experience the product’s quality and durability to feel comfortable with the purchase. Unless you plan to order and return several options, this is an impossible test to complete through online shopping. To that end, you cannot test the product with your pet before ordering, and fake, seller-written reviews may steer you in the wrong direction. Shipping may take several days, and returning unsatisfactory products is often inconvenient.

 

Pro

Convenience

Affordability

Range of options

Access to customer reviews

Ability to compare product specifications

 

Con

No quality assurance

Unable to test size and comfort with animal

Fake customer reviews

Shipping time/expenses

Inconvenient return

 

In-Store Purchases are Tried and True

Though online shopping is a convenient and cost-effective option, certain items continue to remain popular for in-store purchases. Though there is no data on airline-approved pet carrier purchasing, we suspect that most pet parents prefer to buy these containers at brick-and-mortar locations. The experience of visiting a shop allows customers to test the quality and durability of products, compare material, and test sizing and comfort with their pets. Additionally, sales associates are able to provide in-depth and knowledgeable advice for those struggling to decide between several options.

However, visiting a store comes with its own set of disadvantages. You may live in an area that does not have a pet store, and driving to visit a location may prove to be too inconvenient. Additionally, your range of options will be more limited; a store may not have a certain brand you like, or they could be sold out of a specific color or material you want. In-store purchases are also, in general, more expensive than online shopping, and you will not have access to customer reviews.

Pro

Quality assurance

Customer service

Ability for side-by-side inspection/comparison

Possible pet testing

No wait period, as one might experience with shipping

 

Con

Inconvenient

Limited options

Often more expensive

No access to customer reviews

Sales associates may upsell products

 

The Verdict

As you’ve likely guessed, the process of purchasing an airline-approved pet carrier is more complicated than picking online vs. in-store shopping. Your decision process should depend on a variety of factors—from budget and time to quality and location. Below, we have detailed various aspects to consider when making your decision. Take your time; finding a sturdy, airline-approved carrier is not a task you want to rush.

 

Location—Not all of us live close to a pet store. If visiting the pet store requires a long drive, you should opt for an online purchase. When testing out a carrier, you will want to bring Fido along to ensure the container is not too small. If you don’t feel comfortable bringing your pet on a multi-hours-long pet store trip, purchasing a carrier online is a perfectly fine solution. This will allow Fido to test it out in the comfort of your living room, and you’ll be able to return the container if you find anything you don’t like.

 

Time—If your flight is in a few days, shopping in-store is the best choice. Sure, Amazon Prime might get a carrier to your door in less than 48 hours, but what if it’s not what you need? What if it’s too large, or perhaps too small? If you are on a tight deadline, you won’t have time to return the parcel and order another carrier.

 

Direction—If this is your first time purchasing a travel carrier, you may not know what to look for. Our Travel Shop can help, but nothing beats talking to a sales associate at a store. A pet store employee will help you determine which details to prioritize in a travel carrier, and they may also be able to tell you about recent trends and popular items. In contrast, online reviews are helpful, but fake reviews written by the seller tend to upsell an item’s quality and durability.

 

Budget—Though time, location, and direction are important factors to consider, your budget should guide the decision. In most cases, large, online pet stores, such as Chewy.com, are less expensive than brick-and-mortar stores, such as PetSmart. If you’re looking to save a few dollars on an item, shopping online will nearly always guarantee an additional discount. Smart buyers can also save money by shopping at PetSmart.com and selecting in-store pick-up; in most cases, this can save you between $3 and $15, depending on the item.

 

However, pet parents should also reflect on the quality of merchandise. If you feel comfortable spending $200 on a durable, airline-approved pet carrier, you might want to see just how durable it is. Most pet owners will treat this purchase as an investment—something you will use for travel, trips to the vet, and various excursions for several years. If you’re comfortable with ordering, testing, and potentially returning carriers via online venues, it is the more convenient choice. However, if you want to see what your money gets before making the purchase, visiting a pet store will provide the peace of mind you need.

When making your decision, consider the above factors and prioritize accordingly. In most cases, purchasing online or in-store will result in a perfectly suitable product. With enough research, pet parents can deduce the exact size and material they need in a pet carrier. The vehicle for the purchase will, ultimately, depend on individual circumstance and comfort.

 

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