Crates Accepted by the Airlines

Selecting the correct size crate will help ensure that your pet will be accepted by the airlines and assure your pet will have a comfortable trip. Please see the measuring your pet tab for additional information on determining proper crate size.

Standard Airline Crate Sizes (manufacturers sizes may vary)

Small (100 series) – 24″x16″x15″
Medium (200 series) – 28″x20.5″x21.5″
Intermediate (300 series) – 32″x22″x23″
Large (400 series) 36″x25″x27″
Extra large (500 series) – 40″x27″x30″
Giant (700 series) – 48″x32″x35″

Crate types accepted by the airlines
  • Hard Plastic Crates
  • Ventilation holes on all sides of crate
  • Must have metal nuts and bolts to hold the top and bottom together
  • Custom crates must meet IATA requirements that vary by species

Unacceptable crates
  • Crates with wheels
  • Fabric or soft-sided crate
  • Crates with dial latches to hold the top and bottom together
  • Wire crates
  • Top opening crates
  • Crates with side snaps to hold the top and bottom together
  • Collapsible crates
Helping your pet feel secure in the crate

It is best to purchase your shipping kennel several weeks ahead of your pet’s trip so that you have time to acclimate the pet to it’s crate. Our staff can give you many tips on crate training which will significantly reduce the stress of travel for your beloved pet. During travel it is best to include a personal item of a family member that has been handled and not washed so the pet travels with a familiar scent.

Items prohibited in the crate
  • High sided beds
  • Toys & kongs (nylabones or other SOLID chew items are permissible)
  • Cat litter
  • Any type of shavings for rodent type shipments
  • Medicines (all meds must be in a prescription bottle and placed in a ziploc bag and taped to the top of the crate with dosage instructions if meds are to be administered in transit)

Airlines are very particular about shipping crate size, so please measure carefully to avoid being turned away at cargo.

Height – Crate is tall enough for pet to stand with three inch clearance above the head.
Width – Pet can turn around comfortably.
Length – Pet can lie down in a natural position with front legs extended.

I am too big for this crate and need a size larger to be accepted by the airline

Length Measurement

– Measure the length of your pet when standing from the base of his tail to the tip of his nose.
– Measure front leg from floor to elbow.
– Add 1/2 of this measurement to length of pet to determine the total length of crate.

Height Measurement

Measure the height of your pet when standing in a relaxed position with muzzle parallel to the ground, from the floor to the highest point on the head (including ears).  Add 3 inches to measurement to determine crate height.

Note if your pet will fit in an XL or Giant crate length wise but does not meet the 3 inch clearance regulation on height, talk to us about adding an extender vs. going to the next size crate which increases the airfare charges.


1. CRATE SIZE & SPECIFICATION – Pets must be able to stand up, turn around comfortably and have at least 3 inches above the top of the head when standing in a natural position & must space to lie in a natural position without curling in the front legs. Crates must be hard case, non-collapsible, solid top & bottom (no opening on top) & without wheels – “slide locking side fasteners” are NOT accepted. Airlines require that the top and bottom of the crate be secured with all metal nuts and bolts – no plastic nuts. If your crate has plastic nuts, you must purchase metal nuts and bolts separately and replace the plastic ones. Whenever possible crates should have handles for carrying. If your pet fits properly in length but you need additional head room, we can provide an extender for the XL and giant crates.

2. WATER DISHES – Water dishes provided with most crates are not suitable for travel due to their small size. We recommend you purchase plastic food containers. Purchase the size that permits two to be attached to the crate door. Cut two slits just below the lip about ½ – 1” from the end depending on the container size. Insert one zip tie into each slit. Fill with water to just below the zip tie and freeze and attach to the crate door (ice cubes may also be used). This provides constant hydration for your pet without filling its bladder early in the flight and also prevents water from spilling during take off or landing. If your pet chews, for their safety, it is best to purchase aluminum buckets and use the zip ties or clips to attach. If your pet is timid, you may add a burlap flap over the door opening to provide a more secure feeling. Note: United Airlines will no longer accept the plastic bowls pictured, so if your pet is traveling on UA, you must purchase crate crocks or the buckets. United also requires that the bowls be empty when you arrive at the airport.

3. FLOORING/PADDING – We recommend (not required) that a piece of cardboard be placed in the bottom of the crate and then covered with lots of shredded paper to about 1/3rd full. This provides cushion as well as a consistently dry bed for the pets. If you choose to send a regular dog bed, please be advised that is must lie flat in the crate (no high sided beds due to security). If your pet is a chewer or you are unsure, do not use the shredded paper. You may also send blankets or towels – we suggest you handle the item(s) regularly and do not wash before shipment to give your pet the security of a familiar smell.

4. VENTILATION – Crates must have ventilation on all four sides – most all airline approved crates have ventilation on each side and the front, so if you purchase a crate without vent holes on the back, ventilation holes must be drilled on the back.

5. CRATE LABELING/SECURING – Two red & white arrow labels should be placed on the RIGHT FRONT & LEFT REAR corners of the crate, and the yellow Live Animals on each UPPER side with the arrows pointing upward as well as one on the UPPER back of the crate (not pictured). Red & White identification & food & water label (not pictured) should be placed on the TOP of the crate, just above the door. Use additional sticky tape if necessary. Please indicate temperament on the back of the Pet ID tag and use zip tie to attach to the front door. The airline may place other signage on your crate. 4 skinny zip ties are provided to secure the door closed after inspection.

6. LEASH AND COLLAR – Take a zip lock baggie and a leash and collar for your pet, it will be taped to the top of the crate by cargo staff. Most airlines will require you remove the pet from the crate for security inspection and measuring so be SURE that whomever is going to the airport has a means to secure the animal outside the crate. The airlines MUST provide a secure area to remove the pet so please insist on this if it is not offered.

7. PROHIBITED ITEMS – High sided beds, water containers not attached to crate door, non solid toys.

8. MEDICATIONS – If your pet has meds, they must be in a prescription bottle. If the medication must be administered during any animal center layover, please clearly provide instructions for administration.

9. FOOD – It is advisable to attach a few servings of the pet’s regular food to the top of the crate, especially if there is a kennel stop. United Airlines require that at least 16 ounces of food travel on the crate even if the flight is non-stop.