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Dog Shipping Costs

Published on: October 12, 2023  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

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Pet travel costs can quickly add up, leaving pet owners with a hefty bill. However, understanding the factors that contribute to the cost of shipping a dog can help you budget and find ways to save money. Let's take a closer look at these factors and how they can impact the overall cost of transporting your furry friend.

Breed and Size

One of the main factors that influence the cost of shipping a dog is the breed and size of your pet. Larger dogs require larger travel kennels and thus are more expensive to transport via air. Not every airline or country will allow dogs to travel in-cabin, so they may be required to travel as accompanied baggage or cargo. When pets travel in-cabin or as accompanied baggage, there is a set fee from the airline (usually around $75-$300). However, when pets travel as cargo, the "airfreight" is based on the weight of your pet and their kennel and/or the volumetric weight of the travel carrier. So it can cost over $1,000 just in airfreight charges for a large dog to fly. 

Additionally, certain breeds may have specific requirements or restrictions when it comes to transportation. It's important to research these factors beforehand to avoid any surprises. Some breeds must travel in a specialized crate, which is typically more expensive than a standard plastic kennel. For example, the smallest Zinger CR-82 crate is $785. 

Number of Dogs

As mentioned earlier, when pets travel as cargo, the cost is determined by the size and weight of the pet and travel kennel, rather than a flat fee. Therefore, it is logical that if you have multiple dogs, the cost will be higher. It's important to note that pet travel costs are not usually divided equally among pets.


Another factor to consider is the distance and destination of your pet's journey. Shipping a dog domestically within the same country is generally less expensive than international pet travel. The longer the distance, the higher the cost is likely to be. Additionally, certain destinations have specific regulations or requirements that need to be met, which can also impact the overall cost. Such additional costs can include import permits, customs procedures, examinations, veterinary treatments, blood testing, and quarantine.

Travel Kennel

In addition to the cost of shipping itself, there are other expenses to consider. These include the cost of a suitable crate and necessary supplies. Pets that are flying must be in a travel carrier that is IATA-compliant and is the right size. Depending on the size of your dog, the travel kennel costs can range from $50 to over $1,000. You may want to include comfort items, such as a familiar blanket, crate pad, and training pads. Keep in mind that the bedding must be under 3 inches thick or it may be removed by the airline.

Veterinary Services & Paperwork

Depending on the destination, your pet will need to meet specific pet import requirements. These can vary in number and timing but include things like microchipping, vaccinations, blood tests, parasite treatments, examinations, and health certificates. Some countries have more pet import regulations than others (like Australia and New Zealand), so some of these will require multiple vet visits. The cost for these services and treatments will vary by each vet hospital, so you'll need to check with your vet on the pricing for these items.

There may be other documents required that are also associated with a fee. Some documents, like the OVD for New Zealand, or the RNATT Declaration for Australia, also need to be sent to the USDA for their official endorsement. The USDA has its own fees for the endorsement of pet travel paperwork. Countries such as Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and the UAE also require import permits - which of course cost money. You'll also need to consider pet ownership requirements such as dog licenses or dog registration.

Ways to Save Money

While pet travel costs can add up, there are some ways to save money. Some items you can handle yourself without a professional pet shipper, such as purchasing your own IATA-compliant travel kennel, handling the vet appointments, and driving your pet to/from the airport, if possible. It's important to compare prices and services from different pet transport companies to ensure you're getting the best deal. Reading customer reviews can also give you insight into the quality of service provided by each company.

Plan Ahead

Pet travel costs can be expensive, but understanding the factors that contribute to the cost of shipping a dog can help you budget and find ways to save money. Factors such as breed and size, distance and destination, and mode of transportation all play a role in determining the overall cost. Additionally, considering other expenses such as crates, supplies, veterinary check-ups, and vaccinations is important. By planning ahead, comparing prices and services, and ensuring a safe and comfortable journey for your dog, you can make the pet travel process more affordable and less stressful for both you and your furry friend.

Starwood Animal Transport has rebranded to Starwood Pet Travel. We are still the same great company with the best team, just now with a slightly different name.