Dog Travel Bags - How to Choose the Right One

How to Choose the Best Dog Travel Bags

One of the wonderful things about dogs compared with other pets is their portability. Not only can you take them out for a run, but they love to ride in cars! Sometimes though, travel with your pet requires more than a leash or a seatbelt.

Whether your pet just isn’t built for a long walk or your travel arrangements require your pet to be secured, dog travel bags are a good staple of any pet supply collection.

Picking out the right doggy travel bag is more complicated than you may think, and the search can be just as much fun as shopping for a purse or a new dog backpack. Dog travel bags come in a wide range of colors and styles. Some even come from designer labels.

The first thing you’ll want to consider when beginning your hunt is what you plan to use the travel bag for. Your search will be different if you’re looking for a carrier for quick trips to the vet or an everyday bag to tuck your Chihuahua into while the two of you run around town.

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Dog Travel Bags: How to Choose the Right One

Dog Travel Bags - How to Choose the Right One

What type of dog travel bag do you want?

Dog travel bags come in many different styles and you need to make sure you pick one that suits you. Cross body messenger or duffel bags are great for carrying a lot of weight, so they are ideal when you have a bigger dog – or lots of them! They hang to the side of your body so you can dip in and out of them easily.

However, this particular design means that the weight is not distributed evenly and may not be the best choice if you have back, hip or shoulder issues. They can be cumbersome if you’re hiking or exploring the great outdoors as well.

If you love to have your dog along when you go out shopping or hiking, and she is small enough to carry, you might want to shop for a dog carrier styled more like a purse or a pack. A fair number of different designs are available. The selection you make will depend on how heavy your dog is and how strenuous your activities will be.

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Backpack styles distribute weight more evenly, although your shoulders and back will take the brunt. Backpacks are easier to carry if you are traveling long distances by foot or if you’re hiking, as they leave your hands free.

They are also more compact in comparison to messenger styles, making them a good choice if you will be flying or taking public transport. However, you will need to stop and take the backpack off if you need to retrieve anything from it and their shape means items can end up buried at the bottom.

Tote and briefcase styles make it easy to retrieve your doggy’s gear. Their lightweight style makes them ideal for car trips or going to visit relatives, but they can be awkward to carry for longer periods of time.

Many dog travel bags come as kits and include lightweight fabric dishes and water bottles.

RELATED: Benefits of a Dog Backpack Carrier & Why I Love Mine

Dog Travel Bags - How to Choose the Right One 3

If your dog will only be occupying her new carrier when it’s time to go see the doctor, you’ll want something sturdy with plenty of ventilation. Even though some vets will allow you to bring your dog in on a leash, it’s important to have a carrier in case your animal becomes injured or is too ill to move around on her own.

Hurt dogs can also be dangerous, especially around other dogs. For this reason, it may be wise to confine yours to a carrier, even if she is normally well-behaved. You never know what a sick or injured dog may see as a threat – in this case, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Dog travel bags that work well for vet visits can either be made of rigid material or fabric. You can even find some that fold up for storage and pop open like a tent when you’re ready to put your dog inside.

Important qualities to look for are ventilation holes or screens on all four sides, a strong latch or zipper that will keep the door secure, and portability.

If you have a heavier breed, you may want to pick out something equipped with wheels. You can ask your vet what type of carrier they prefer you bring in. Even if the office doesn’t have a preference, they may be able to recommend a few good models.

Dog Travel Bags - How to Choose the Right OnePrice

After you’ve narrowed down your search to the type of bag or carrier you want, the next filter to use is price. What do you want to spend on the new satchel? You need to make sure that you're only shopping for dog travel bags that fit within your budget.

Searching Amazon, you can find some as low as $12 and others as high as $700. Price shouldn't be your only deciding factor, but with a range as wide as this, it definitely needs to be a concern. Keep in mind that in most cases, the more you spend the better quality bag you'll get.

Spending more will usually get you some unique features as well. Some dog travel bags have leg holes for your pooch to put her paws through and others have openings for the head only. You'll spend more money for safety features and comfort too.

Don't settle for the cheapest bag that you can find, make sure to find one that fits your budget and meets your needs.

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Dog Travel Bags - How to Choose the Right OneAnother important criterion for selecting the best dog travel bag is the quality of the bag. A cheap price is great, but you usually get what you pay for.

Pay attention to the material that it’s made from. Any bag you choose should be made of strong fabric that doesn’t have too much give. You won’t want it to stretch out after just a few trips.

You should also check the seams for double-stitching and watch out for loose threads. Even a bag made of thick fabric can come apart if the seams aren’t secure. Your will need to consider whether you’re looking to have a bag for life or if it’s needed for one or two trips only. If you’re looking for a travel bag that will last your dog many years, you must choose a high quality one made from a strong and resilient material.

You will also want to consider the type of closures the bag has. High quality zippers are usually the best, as magnetic or Velcro closures are no match for a smart and peckish pooch! Internal compartments should close securely so that all your doggy’s belongings don’t spill if the bag is dropped or overturned on your journey.

Zipper locks are another important feature to look for. Some clever dogs can figure out how to work a zip closure by pushing at the opening enough to slide the zipper back.

As cute as a pink, rhinestoned, designer bag might be, it’s not going to stay cute for long if it’s not washable.

Dog Travel Bags - How to Choose the Right One 1Any material the bag is made from should be stain resistant and either machine washable or easy to wipe clean with a damp cloth.

Even the best dogs can make mistakes because they get scared or distracted.

Examining your potential new dog travel bag in person is going to be your best bet, so that you can check out the stitching, fabric, and weight. You should also try on the bag and make sure it’s comfortable. If you’re shopping in a store that allows you to bring your dog in, see if you can try the fit as well.

Make sure your dog can see out and there’s nothing to block her breathing or circulation. Also take into account how prone your dog is to chewing. If you’ve got a dog that likes to munch on your shoes or your handbags, chances are she’ll want to sink her teeth into her new carrier too. See that the bag is either durable enough to handle a few tooth marks or that she can’t reach anything chewable.

If it’s impractical to try out bags in person, and you’re seeking one from an online source, use the product specifications to inform your decision. This section should give you dimensions and materials. Also check the customer review comments.

While the product description supplied by the seller may try to convince you that you’ve just found the best bag in the world, a two-star rating should raise some red flags. See if you can discover any commonalities between the comments that point to a weak feature or a strong point the product may have.

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Where and how will you be using a dog travel bags?

Dog Travel Bags - How to Choose the Right One

Another thing to consider is your destination. If you’re going hiking or into the woods there’s more of a chance your travel bag will get muddy, rained on, and snagged by branches and rocks. You will need to pick one that is tough, waterproof and washable.

Alternatively, if you and your dog are off to a hot destination, you want to pick a bag that is lightweight and made of a breathable material so you don’t get too hot and bothered. The bag you choose also depends on how long you both will be traveling for. If you’re going on a longer trip, you’ll have much more to carry and need a larger bag.

Whether your final decision is canine couture or a more economical pooch pouch make sure to introduce your dog to her new carrier gradually. Set it out for her to sniff. Maybe put her inside of it and encourage her with praise and treats.

Then, take a walk or two around the block to test the bag out for comfort before going on a longer journey. When you’re ready to go tooling around the neighborhood together, stash a few items in a side pocket. It can be useful to have hand sanitizer, doggie pick-up baggies, a bottle of fresh water, a leash, and a few treats along with you.

READ NEXT: Backpacking with Dogs – Essential Tips And Tricks

Dom Naish is a Phoenix-based writer, vegan, cupcake addict and dog lover. Years in the animal rescue trenches have taught him every aspect of dog ownership from behavioral problems, personality and breed specific trait differences of all dogs.