The 3 Best Pet Shipping Companies of 2020

  • Best overall

    Air Animal

    4.5
    • Veterinarian founded
    • Frequent updates
    • No boarding or grooming
    Get a Quote
  • Best for pet comfort

    Airpets America

    4.5
    • Grooming and boarding
    • Military discounts
    • Hard to reach by phone
    Get a Quote
  • Best for multiple pets

    Happy Tails

    4.4
    • Frequent updates
    • Discounts for multiple pets
    • No boarding or grooming
    Get a Quote

If you’re moving with a furry, feathered, or scaly friend, you have several options for getting them to your new home. You can drive them yourself, arrange to have them flown to your new home, or hire a professional pet transportation company to ship them for you.

Of course, this convenience comes with a price tag, so you may be tempted to do all of this yourself. We’d caution against that, though. When your beloved pet’s safety is on the line, it’s always best to trust the professionals. In fact, some airlines won’t even let you ship live animals unless you’re going through a pet transporter.

Keep reading to find out which pet shipping companies are the most reliable, convenient, and safe.

Compare the best pet shipping companies

Air AnimalAirpets AmericaHappy Tails
Air Animal Pet Movers LogoHappy Tails Logo
Veterinary services✔ Yes✔ Yes✔ Yes
Door-to-door delivery✔ Yes✔ Yes✔ Yes
International pet transport✔ Yes✔ Yes✔ Yes
Veterinary services
Door-to-door delivery
International pet transport
Air Animal Airpets America Happy Tails
Air Animal Pet Movers Logo Happy Tails Logo
✔ Yes ✔ Yes ✔ Yes
✔ Yes ✔ Yes ✔ Yes
✔ Yes ✔ Yes ✔ Yes

Data as of 1/17/2020.

How pet shipping works

Pet shipping companies work like travel agents for pets, and they handle several of the most difficult and time-consuming parts of the process:

  • Registration and customs paperwork
  • Flight booking (no pet shipping companies own their own airplanes)
  • Travel kennel accommodations (pets need special kennels for flying)
  • Pet vaccinations for the country or state you’re moving to

For an extra charge, some pet transporters also provide concierge services, ground transport, and door-to-door delivery. While all three companies on this list offer these transport services, they can be limited in certain states and regions.

Info box icon

Shipping some fish?

Shipping some fish?

Fish and other aquatic pets are some of the most difficult animals to ship safely, and most pet transporters won’t even accept them. None of the shippers on this list transport fish, so we recommend talking to your veterinarian or visiting the IPATA website to find fish transport specialists.

The best pet shipping companies

All three of these companies are members of the the International Pet and Animal Association (IPATA) and accredited by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Together, these organizations ensure that pet shippers meet animal safety regulations and don’t scam pet owners.

Air Animal—Best overall

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

Founded by a veterinarian in 1977, Air Animal is an international pet transport company that puts your pets’ safety and well-being first. Air Animal pairs this care with responsive customer service and a mobile app that lets you manage your pet’s journey with your phone.

Pros

  • Veterinarian founded
  • Frequent updates about how your pet is doing
  • Online customer service chat
  • Mobile app

Cons

  • No grooming
  • No boarding

Pets Air Animal ships

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Birds
  • Rabbits
  • Hamsters
  • Turtles

What sets Air Animal apart?

Its online pet shipping resources

Moving has a lot of unknowns, which can add undue stress to an already stressful process. This is especially true when you’re shipping your pet. Air Animal alleviates this stress with informative videos and articles that walk you through every step of the process from start to finish.

Are you unsure what kind of kennel your golden retriever needs? Is it unclear how to get your cat the right health certificate for international shipping? And what is a concierge service anyway? Air Animal’s website connects you with all this information and more.

These resources make Air Animal our number one recommendation for anyone shipping a pet for the first time.

Its first-rate customer service

Part of being an informative resource is having good customer service, and Air Animal has this in spades. Whether you’re talking to them over the phone or through the website’s live chat, Air Animal’s customer service agents are friendly and helpful throughout the pet shipping process.

Air Animal takes this service one step further with a handy mobile app. When you request a quote for pet shipment, Air Animal sets you up with an app account. From there, you can coordinate with Air Animal about your move dates, your pet’s flight, and any special needs you or your pet have. You can also use the app to upload your pet’s veterinary records.

Between its mobile app and its superb customer service, Air Animal puts you in control of your pet’s journey at every point.

Airpets America—Best for pet comfort

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

Airpets America has been shipping animals for over 20 years, and it’s committed to keeping your pets safe and satisfied—whether you’re moving to another city, another state, or another country.

Pros

  • Grooming
  • Boarding
  • Military relocation discounts

Cons

  • Hard to reach by phone

Pets Airpets America ships

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Birds
  • Snakes
  • Turtles
  • Frogs

What sets Airpets America apart?

Its list of pets it can ship

Of all the companies on our list, Airpets America ships the widest assortment of pets. While it can’t ship fish or other aquatic creatures, it can transport just about any other animal you might keep as a house pet. It even ships livestock and zoo animals.

In the company’s own words, “There is no pet we can’t help you get home.”1 So if you need to ship a pet you don’t see on the list above, Airpets America might still be able to help.

Its grooming, exercise, and veterinary services

While the company transports almost every type of pet, its deluxe add-on services for dogs and cats are where it really shines. Airpets America offers the following accommodations to ensure your canine or feline companion is happy and comfortable during their journey:

  • Grooming
  • Exercise routines (dogs only)
  • Microchip implants
  • Custom crates
  • Crate training (dogs only)

If you’re willing to pay for these services, then Airpets America is your best option for shipping a hyperactive dog, a grumpy cat, or a frequent shedder of either species.

Happy Tails—Best for shipping multiple pets

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

Do you have a zoo’s worth of fur babies you need to ship? Then Happy Tails is the pet shipper we recommend for your move. While the company can ship only cats and dogs, it offers discounts to pet owners shipping multiple pets at once.

Pros

  • Frequent updates about how your pet is doing
  • Discounts for multiple pets
  • Military relocation discounts

Cons

  • No grooming
  • No boarding

Pets Happy Tails ships

  • Dogs
  • Cats

What sets Happy Tails apart?

Its discounts for shipping multiple pets

Happy Tails is your hookup if you’re shipping two or more dogs/cats at once. For each pet you ship, Happy Tails charges a travel consultation fee. Depending on where you’re shipping from/to, this fee ranges from $425 to $950 for the first pet (which is pretty standard for the pet shipping industry). The consultation fee for each additional pet you ship is about $200 less.

Keep in mind that this travel consultation fee is just one part of your final price, and it doesn’t include things like veterinary fees, ground transportation, or airfare. No one ever said pet transportation was cheap, but if you need to ship a lot of pets, then Happy Tails might be your most budget-friendly option.

Its adoption assistance services

Let’s say you aren’t moving, but you’re looking online for a cat or dog to adopt. If you find the perfect pet for you, but they’re in a shelter far from where you live, you can use Happy Tails’ adoption assistance to get them shipped to your home.

With this service, Happy Tails will make all the travel arrangements and coordinate with the shelter to get your new best friend to you as quickly as possible.

Orange exclamation mark

Lose a pet during your move?

Lose a pet during your move?

Moving can be very scary for pets, and sometimes they get lost or run away in all the hustle and bustle. Accidents happen, and Happy Tails’ adoption services can help you recover them. If your furry friend turns up at a shelter somewhere after your move is complete, then Happy Tails can ship them to your new home quickly and safely.

Recapping our top 3 pet shipping companies

  • Air Animal—Best overall
  • Airborne Animals—Best for pet comfort
  • Happy Tails—Best for shipping multiple pets

We want to hear from you!
If you’ve worked with any of the pet shipping companies on this list, we want to hear about your experience. Drop a comment below to tell us all about it!

Pet transportation FAQs

How do pet transportation companies ship my pets?

Pet shipping companies don’t own airplanes, and while some of them own vans and trucks for ground transport, they typically ship pets long distance using commercial airlines.

While in transit, your pets ride in a separate area of the cargo hold that is designed for transporting animals. This area is pressurized, climate controlled, and fully oxygenated to keep your pets safe and happy during their trip.

What are concierge services?

Airports are confusing, and if you’re like most people, you probably have no idea where in the airport you’re supposed to take your pet to catch their plane. If you pay for a concierge service, a representative from the pet shipping company will meet you at the departure or arrival airport and help make sure your pet gets on or off their plane safely.

A pet shipping concierge will not ride on the plane with your pet.

Can I move with my pet myself?

If your budget won’t allow you to ship your pet or hire a pet shipping company, you can always drive with your pet yourself as long as your destination isn’t overseas. Of course, different pets require different accommodations on the road. Read our guide to moving with pets to learn more.

Sources

  1. Airpets America, “Dog & Pet Shipping Questions

About Joe Roberts

Joe Roberts
Joe Roberts is a professional writer with a degree in writing studies and over three years of copywriting experience. He previously worked at Overstock.com, where he wrote about furniture, home decor, and moving. Joe has moved all over Utah, so he knows his way around a moving truck—and he spends his time (and money) expanding his personal library so it will be even heavier next time he moves.