Strategizing your move can feel like playing a high-stakes game of chess. While trying to find a new home, figure out how to ship your car, pack, and shop for the best moving company, you realize Fido needs a way to your new home, too.
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Relocating your furry friend doesn’t have to be a monumental task. Actually, pet shipping companies are a safe option to transport your four-legged family members in comfort.
If you’ve never shipped a pet before, don’t sweat it! Check out this moveBuddha guide to fetch (get it?) the best pet shipping company for the job. We’ll show you how pet shipping companies work and how to find reputable providers, too.
What do pet shipping companies do?
Put simply, pet shipping companies specialize in transporting animals domestically and internationally. The exact pet transportation services will differ by company, but most offer:
- Customized travel plans: The pet shipper tailors travel arrangements to you and your pet’s specific needs. A good company will consider factors like breed, health conditions, and the requirements of your destination. For example, for pet owners moving to Texas, the USDA requires a tangled web of paperwork.
- Documentation and compliance: If you’re relocating internationally, bringing Fluffy along for the ride comes with some red tape. Fortunately, pet shippers handle the paperwork for you, ensuring your pet meets destination country regulations for vaccinations and health status.
- Cozy transport facilities: You’re probably flying coach, but the pet shipper gives your beloved pet a first-class experience. They should offer specialized carriers or crates to ensure your pet’s well-being.
- Door-to-door service: Some pet shipping companies will ask you to pick your pet up at an airport or at a specified terminal. Others offer white-glove door-to-door service, picking up and dropping off your pet from the comfort of your home.
- 24/7 monitoring: Travel can be stressful, which is why many pet shipping companies offer round-the-clock pet monitoring. This is especially helpful for long-haul flights or if your pet has travel anxiety.
We know that a pet relocation service isn’t for everybody. Below, we’ll cover the reasons why you might want to hire a pet transport company.
Reasons for hiring pet shipping companies
Hiring a pet shipping company is a solid option for transporting a pet over long distances. It isn’t a fit for every move, but if you find yourself in any of these scenarios, a pet shipping company is probably the way to go:
- International relocations: Moving outside the USA comes with a lot of documentation and quarantine requirements. You don’t want your pet to be in legal limbo for months on end, so work with a company that’s already well-versed in regional pet regulations.
- Busy schedule: Do you have a packed work or travel schedule? Pet shipping companies manage all aspects of relocating your pet so you have more time for packing and hiring movers.
- Health or safety concerns: If your pet has a health condition or special needs, these companies know how to ensure a safe journey. They take proper precautions and provide medical care to ensure your pet’s safety.
- First-time pet travel: If you’re new to traveling with a pet, hiring a shipper gives you way more peace of mind.
- Exotic or unusual pets: If you’re shipping, say, a boa constrictor, we guarantee the commercial airline doesn’t want snakes on a plane. Any animal outside of the cat/dog norm requires specialized care and transport methods, so let the professionals handle this one.
How pet shipping companies work
Pet travel comes with a lot of logistics. If you’re not up for the complexities of planning pet travel plus your own move (and we don’t blame you), a pet shipping company is your best bet.
Here’s how the pet shipping process usually works:
- Initial consult: Most companies will schedule a chat to understand your pet’s needs, your concerns, and the requirements of your destination.
- Free quote: Based on the details you provide, the pet shipping company will send over a quote detailing all of their services and fees.
- Documentation: The pet shipper will ask you to gather documents to streamline the process. This usually includes vet health certifications, vaccination records, or import permits. Don’t worry —the pet shipping company will tell you exactly what to provide and how to get it.
- Pet prep: The pet shipping company will tell you how to prepare your furry family member for the journey. This might include pre-travel vet visits, acclimating them to their travel crate, or following fasting guidelines before you leave (after all, nobody wants a poopy crate).
- Scheduling and transportation: The pet shipping company handles logistics every step of the way, from booking flights and ground transportation to arranging for any layover care your pet might need.
- Delivery and aftercare: Once your pet lands at the new destination, the pet shipping company either delivers them to you or you pick them up. Some companies will even offer post-travel check-ins to make sure your pet is adjusting well.
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The cost of pet shipping companies
According to Pet Transport Pro, the average cost of shipping a pet within the USA is $650. International shipping can cost more than $2,000, depending on how far you’re moving and airfare costs.
As you can see, the cost of pet shipping companies varies. It depends on several factors, including:
- Distance: The further you move, the more expensive it is to ship your pet. This is one reason why international pet shipping is more expensive.
- Your pet: Your pet’s species, breed, and size will affect the final cost. It’s more expensive to ship large pets or exotic animals that require special care.
- Travel method: Air transport is usually more expensive than ground transportation. However, air freight is faster, so this comes down to your budget and preferences. Just keep in mind that air travel is the most expensive option.
- Documentation requirements: Vet check-ups, document processing, customs clearance, and quarantines add to the total cost.
- Time of year: If you’re shipping your pet during the busy holiday season, you might pay more because of higher demand.
- Crate or travel container: Costs vary here based on whether you buy your own pet kennel or if you rent one from the shipper.
- Add-on services: Extra bells and whistles like door-to-door service, 24/7 monitoring, grooming, and boarding will cost more. But hey, anything to make Fido happy, right?
When in doubt, get at least three quotes from reputable pet shippers to get a better idea of pricing.
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Pet shipping companies: Choosing the best fit
A quality pet shipping company treats your pet like royalty. Follow these quick tips to find a pet shipping company that fits your needs:
- Reviews: Start by reading reviews and testimonials from past customers. Look for a mix of bad, so-so, and excellent reviews for a better idea of what it’s like to work with this shipper.
- Accreditations: Look for companies affiliated with organizations like the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA). Being a member of organizations like this means the company has to follow certain standards and best practices, which should give you more peace of mind.
- Transparent pricing: Nobody likes “gotcha” fees. Choose companies that offer clear pricing structures and break down all potential costs.
- Expertise: The pet shipping company should have a proven track record. See how long they’ve been in business and whether they have years of experience shipping your pet’s species. If this company has never shipped a boa constrictor before, go with someone who has.
- Insurance and liability: Pet shippers take very good care of your pets, but even then, sometimes things happen. Go with a provider that has a solid insurance policy against injury, illness, or other incidentals that come with relocating.
FAQs about pet shipping companies
How long does it take to ship a pet?
This depends on how far you’re moving and whether you’re shipping the pet via air freight or ground transport. For domestic travel, this could take a few hours or a day. International shipments can take several days, especially if your destination country has quarantine requirements.
What are the pros and cons of using a pet shipping company?
Hiring a pet shipping company comes with a lot of advantages, including:
- Expertise: Pet shipping companies have the knowledge and experience to handle the complexities of pet travel, especially for international relocations.
- Safety: Pet shippers have specialized equipment and procedures in place to keep your pet comfortable and safe.
- Convenience: Enjoy a stress-free experience. The pet transport service handles all paperwork, customs, and travel arrangements for you.
However, there are a few downsides to shipping a pet, including:
- High costs
- Less control over your pet during the routing process
- Potential delays or changes
Can you use FedEx to ship a pet?
No, technically you can’t “ship” a pet through FedEx. However, the company does ship live animals under Chartered Air Freight Delivery, but it is expensive and impractical for most people. You’re better off using an actual pet moving company.
How much does it cost to ship a pet cross-country?
On average, it costs anywhere from $200 to more than $2,000 to ship a pet cross-country, depending on their species, size, transport method, and add-on pet shipping services.
What paperwork do pet shipping companies need?
Paperwork requirements differ based on your destination and the type of pet you have. Most pet shipping companies will ask for these documents:
- Health certificate from a veterinarian
- Up-to-date vaccination records
- Import/export permits for international pet transport
- Breed certifications, if you’re moving to a country with breed-specific regulations
- Proof of ownership
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