What to Look for in a Pet Carrier for Small Dogs

June 2, 2020 // 6 minute read

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We all consider our dogs as part of the family, and as such, we treat them with care, love, and respect. So, whenever we’re forced to leave them behind because we need to travel or be out of town for a couple of days, it’s not entirely surprising to feel a bit heartbroken.

I find it difficult and even painful to see those eyes riddled with sadness when it’s time to go. I noticed that my dog could already sense that I’m leaving him again, and every time it happens, it just melts my heart. But it doesn’t have to be that way for long.

I used to hate bringing my dog along while traveling because it was too inconvenient. Airlines have strict policies and rules to follow. Road trips weren’t fun, also. My dog started panicking and breathing heavily in the car when we were barely out of the driveway. I couldn’t even focus on my driving. I thought, “there’s no way this is happening again.”

So, what made me change my mind? The solution was a lot simpler than I expected – a pet carrier.

chihuahua before traveling

I live with my four-year-old chihuahua. He’s my buddy for life. For the most part, he’s a blessing because he has everything I’ve wanted in a dog. He doesn’t have an attitude, and he’s not destructive. The only thing I hate about this breed is that it barks on practically everything, even his own shadow. You probably can guess right now that I consider him my world.

I sell surgical gloves for a living. My job sometimes requires me to travel out of state and be gone for three days the most. I used to leave my dog behind, usually to the neighbor or dog daycare. When a client told me about the prospect of using a pet carrier, I wasn’t enthusiastic about it at first.

But you’ll never know how one experience can change your perspective of things. I didn’t want to bother buying a pet carrier because I felt there was nothing wrong with leaving my dog behind. After all, it was just for a couple of days. Also, my previous experience of taking him on a road trip was entirely forgettable.

Anyway, I didn’t need the advice of a veterinarian or a dog trainer to realize that a carrier for my small dog will solve my problem. I put in a lot of time to study how a dog carrier works and what it can do to help my situation. Now I believe I’ve done enough research to share some tips to those who are once like me that underestimated the benefits of a pet carrier. If you own a small dog, then you should focus your search for a compact and lightweight variety.

Here is a video showing a puppy going on several airplanes:

Factors to Consider in Choosing the Right Carrier for a Small Dog

Dog Size

You can’t just go out there shopping for a pet carrier when you’re not even aware of your dog’s exact measurements. There’s a different carrier for a large breed and a medium or small-sized dog. Measuring your dog is essential because you need to figure out if the carrier has enough space inside for the pooch to stretch out and stand up. Be sure that the dog can also turn around while standing inside the carrier.

Be sure to measure your dog’s length, starting from the base of his neck to the root of the tail. Add a couple of inches to the actual measurement as some sort of space allowance for movement. Meanwhile, height is measured from the floor up to the tops of the dog’s shoulders. Add about four inches to the actual measurement for movement.

The last thing you want to check is your dog’s weight since carriers have limitations. For a small dog carrier, the maximum load is usually at 22 lbs.


It’s not the right time to be thrifty when buying a pet carrier for your small dog. For the most part, an overly affordable variety comes with cheap material construction. Don’t forget that the purpose of the pet carrier is to keep your small four-legged buddy comfortable and safe while you’re traveling with him.

If you cheap out on the carrier, you may find yourself dealing with a panicked dog while on a plane. You never want that to happen because you will cause annoyance and disturbance to the other passengers. A cheaply made pet carrier doesn’t guarantee comfort and protection for the dog.


Whether you go for the hard or soft-sided pet carrier, the one thing you should focus on is the product’s durability and sturdiness. Even if you want something light and compact, it doesn’t mean you should make a compromise on the build quality. A durable small dog carrier comes with sturdy internal support; the purpose is to prevent it from collapsing with your dog inside.

You can figure out if the product is durable by checking on the corners and seams, as well as the bed and ground. You want those components to have reinforcements.

Design Flexibility

Design isn’t merely about aesthetics. When buying a small dog carrier for the first time, you should contemplate on how you’d use it. If the purpose is to use the carrier for regular visits to the vet and some occasional hiking trips, then you don’t need a multipurpose carrier. But if you wish to bring your pooch with you on road trips and air travel, then you should focus on a product with a flexible design. Look for something that is equipped with wheels for pulling, adjustable shoulder straps, sling option, and backpack straps.


Your dog’s comfort and safety are the priorities when buying a pet carrier. Therefore, you should look for one that comes with nifty accessories. Don’t be fooled by some brands with a lot of free stuff since most of them are useless. Choose a carrier with lots of pockets so that you can put all your doggy essentials in them. You may want to get a pet carrier with a removable and washable fleece bed because it’ll be easier to clean it separately.

Our Final Thoughts

Buying a carrier may very well be the best gift for your small dog. With it, you no longer are forced to leave him behind when you need to go out of town. It’s also convenient for you because it’ll be easier to bring the dog to the vet. It is a win-win situation for you and your loyal buddy.

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