The secrets to finding the best pet carrier

Keep your pet safe and secure in the perfect carrier with these quick tips.

How to find therigh pet carrier
Although most cat owners know a carrier is essential, many dog owners – and owners of leash-trained cats – do not. This is a mistake, say veterinarians.

Does your dog need a carrier?
"Dogs should always be transported in a safe carrier with rigid construction," regardless of what vehicle they're riding in, says Dr. Doug Roberts, president of the Canadian Medical Veterinary Association and a companion animal practitioner at Cornwallis Veterinarians in Kentville, N.S.

"The only exception would be allowing your dog to be seated in your car and fastened by a pet seat belt purchased at a veterinary clinic or pet retail outlet. But the safest place for your dog is in a rigid pet crate," says Roberts.

Likewise for leash-happy cats, says Dr. Liz O’Brien, a feline-veterinary specialist and owner of The Cat Clinic animal hospital in Hamilton, Ont.

"You never know how a cat is going to respond to a different environment, so even if they're used to a harness and leash, it's safer to have the cat in a carrier," says O'Brien.

Uncrated cats can cause car accidents if they lodge themselves under the brake or gas pedal. They also run the risk of escape when you open the car door (or window!). Escapes into traffic or a busy parking lot can have a tragic outcome.

How to find the right carrier
Avoid buying a used pet carrier: You won’t know how much wear the carrier has been subjected to, or if its previous occupant had a communicable disease. Seeking a used product may make you more likely to buy the wrong carrier because selection is limited.

Purchase your carrier from a reputable pet-supply store, online retailer, veterinarian's office or animal shelter (many sell merchandise).

When shopping for a cat or dog carrier, consider the following:
• Rigid, hard-plastic construction (they're sturdy and easy to clean and disinfect).

• In addition to the front door, a fully removable top is a good feature. This allows your vet to ease into your cat's checkup by removing the top and leaving the bottom intact for kitty’s comfort. "Obviously, the carrier needs to be well made so that when the top's reconnected to the bottom, it's securely put together," says O'Brien).

• For a dog crate, look for rigid medium- or heavy-duty wire construction (add a plastic bottom liner tray to protect paws).

Page 1 of 2 - find out how to choose the right size on page 2.

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