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How does shipping a dog work? Full Process Explained

Are you planning to move or relocate to a different state or anywhere across the country? If yes, then are you looking for advice on how to ship your dog by road or air transport? Then do not worry as you can consider hiring any suitable pet relocation service for dog shipping. In this article, we will provide you with all the information about dog shipping that you need to keep your dog safe.

You can find many pet shipping companies that cater to the specific requirements of their clients. You will find many pet transportation companies that promise to offer professional pet shipping services both by ground or air transport from one state to the other. 

Important Documentation

First and foremost, the documentation part is very important so If you want to ship your dog, then your pet would require an original medical certificate provided by a licensed and certified veterinarian that is no more than 10 days old at the time of its travel. 

Other than this, the service providers also need to have a signed certificate of vaccination for rabies. The rabies vaccine also has to be at least 30 days old, or under one year old for foreign travel. Based on your destination country, the dog or puppy needs to have documents like various annual vaccinations, import permits, quarantine kennel reservations, and many other documents which can take more than 6 weeks to get into your hands. 

You can easily avail yourself of all these services and facilities from a dedicated dog shipping company. The agents of the transportation service will help you understand the requirements to ship a pet from one nation to the other. 

It generally takes one to six weeks prior notice depending on the country you choose to move to for arranging your dog’s travel. Before the trip, your puppy or the dog is picked up by your hired pet transportation team and then taken to the veterinarian for the checkup and to get the paperwork done. A similar process may also happen for dog transportation within the country. 

Note: Pet shipping services like CitizenShipper also facilitate door-to-door pet transportation services in the US.

Shipping your dog by air

Air travel is a safe pet shipping option if proper planning and the right choices are made and several shipping services work with airlines and offer live animal transportation. USDA requires you to feed your pet at least four hours before the flight, in order to avoid upsetting their stomach. Also, make sure that they are hydrated. Note the time of the last meal in their kennel, so that airlines can give the pets food every 24 hours and water in 12 hours. This is done if they are below the age of 16 years. 

Sometimes people are a bit skeptical about airline food, which is why you can provide in-flight food & beverages for your pet. The food and water carrier should be well secured, granting easy access to airline personnel. 

If you are planning international air travel, research the country import permits to ensure that your puppy has completed all the vaccine requirements.

As we stated before, you can’t ship your dog without the requisite documentation. Pet shipping services request a valid health certificate from a licensed veterinarian (not exceeding ten-day-old), a signed certificate of vaccination against rabies, and requisite international permits as related to the destination country. In many cases, your chosen shipment company will have systems in place to help you gather this paperwork. The aim is to make the process as easy as possible.

The process of getting the aforementioned documents together may take up to six weeks. In this regard, companies require a maximum of six weeks to prepare for shipment. The pet is then picked up from your home (if you opt for a door-to-door service) one day before the date of shipment.  

Before we get to the process of boarding, we have to talk about the carriage kennel. These kennels are made to a certain standard. The dog has to be able to comfortably stand, turn and lay down in the kennel. This means that the height should be greater than that of the animal. Moving to the kennel’s door, it should be sturdy and not easily opened during transit.

In the case of puppies, no puppy under six weeks old can be shipped. Remember that the safety of the animal is the most important thing. You are also encouraged to feed the animal four hours before the flight. The meal should not be heavy. With all these measures in place, your pet should be safely shipped.

Recommended: Shipping Dogs Via Ground Transportation Services

Though not a necessity but you should always have two travel documents for dog shipping:

Signed Rabies Vaccination Certificate

Original Health Certificate provided by a licensed veterinarian which should be issued at least 30 days before the travel
It isn’t necessary for ground travel, but we always recommend microchipping your pets. This will help in identifying your animal just in case of a mishappening.

Travel Crates

For ground transportation, You need to make sure that high-quality kennels are chosen to transport your dog. Other than this, you should always check if you are opting to go with the travel crate of your pet transporter. You can also ask your pet shipping services if they have high-quality crates available. 

Weather Restrictions

If traveling by road, then it is always safe to make sure that the weather conditions are safe to avoid any inconvenience. When it comes to using a pet transportation company like CitizenShipper then you can always have a word with the driver at any given point in time. 


For nationwide animal shipping, services like CitizenShipper offer a door-to-door option where the driver will come to your place, board the pet and move on. Just to be on the safe side, you should get the requisite health checks done and have a valid health certificate and rabies vaccination certificates to indicate this. Naturally, puppies are treated with extra care. Most companies will not ship a puppy that is under six weeks old.

Many times when there is a breeder then there are multiple dogs that can be transported in a group or in an individual vehicle. This, of course, is also subject to individual budgets and preferences. During travel, an individual can opt to send a personal toy or other possession of your dog to further facilitate comfort.

Speaking of comfort, your animal can be subject to scheduled intervals of walks to facilitate exercise and reduce anxiety. These walks and the number of them are usually based on the duration of the trip. On average, a dog may be given its walk every four hours. This can also be adjusted based on your individual requests.

Transportation vehicles are spacious and climate-controlled. The bedding provided is soft and comfortable ensuring that your dog or puppy is comfortable. For your peace of mind, pictures can be taken and sent to you at intervals during the trip. Handlers are usually trained to deal with special cases such as blindness, mobility issues, and anxiety.


1. How long does it take to ship a dog?

The time taken to ship a dog varies between dog shipping services companies. However, on a basic note, it does not take more than 6 weeks or could be even less (based on the destination to the place inside or outside of a country you travel). If it’s in the USA, it can take 2-4 days. 

2. How much does it cost to ship a pet? 

The shipping cost of a pet depends upon the place or destination where the pet has to be transported. Also, it depends upon the requirements of the pet (in particular) during the time of the trip. 

On average, it may cost $120 to $250 to ship a pet within a distance of 300 miles. Accordingly, the cost will increase for longer journeys as the food and other requirements of the pet will also increase with it. 

So, before shipping your pet, make sure to check the cost-to-ship index of the pet transportation service you hire. 

3. What happens when you ship a dog? 

Pets are generally received from their guardian by the pet shipping companies on the day before the trip. Then they are taken straightway to the vet to do necessary health checkups and paperwork.


Every pet dog transportation agency ascertains the guardians of their pets’ safety during the trip. The dog shippers take special care of the pets and make them feel comfortable by taking the pets for a walk within every 4 to 5 hours interval. 

4. What authority and licenses are required for transporting dogs? 

When you travel internationally, a federal endorsement of Certificates of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) of your dog is needed.

The Veterinary Service office of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) can help you in the inspection of your pet before travel. 

So, it is always advised to plan before as these services are not available on time and always need an appointment. 

To avoid facing any problem with the forms of the country you choose, it is better to be aware of the import requirements of that country. You will need extra time to make sure that all the formalities are completed.

Also, do not forget to keep a copy of the CVI and the documents needed with it. The authorities can ask to see the documents, so it is necessary to be ready with them.


If you don’t have the documents, the authorities at the destination may take action against you. For example, they could impose a penalty, extend the quarantine, or simply refuse entry.


The dog shipping services, like other similar services, need to adhere to state, federal, and local regulations. This is because dog shipping services are responsible for the shipping of live animals, and that is why it is also important to get all the licenses and certifications done. 

Hence, before you trust anyone for the shipping of your dog or puppy, always ensure that they are the right authority and have good experience in shipping. Professionals who provide these services need to have the license issued by the USDA as a carrier, dealer, or intermediate handler, assuming they are shipping the “regulated” animal species. 

If there is any unregulated animal, like a bird, reptile, or a fish, then the shipper does not need any license by the USDA. The regulations are different as per the animal, so make sure that you hire the dog shipping services with proper authority, licensed by USDA.

Updated January 17, 2022

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